Lake Placid, NY August 18--Two-time Olympian and reigning U.S. downhill champion, Chad Fleischer, and three-time Olympian and World Cup moguls champion, Ann Battelle, announced yesterday that they will compete in the first-ever Winter Goodwill Games.
With two such well-known athletes already signed on, the Game's organizers hope they can lure top skiers from other countries. Although the Games are FIS approved and USSA sanctioned, skiers may have to take time off the World Cup circuit to participate. That might be a tall order for the leading World Cup skiers, as every point counts in the race for the top 5 berths. Still, the seven-figure purse should keep plenty of elite athletes interested in the Goodwill Games.
"We took the World Cup schedule into consideration when we set the dates for the games," said Goodwill Games president, Mike Plant. "We have talked with some of the world's best ski federations and invited them to participate in the games. We feel comfortable that we will have the top level of competition for the event."
The games will start off with a bang the first two days, with the first-ever running of two separate men's alpine downhill competitions. The first race will be held on February 17, and the second on February 18, crowning two separate downhill champions--both of whom will cash in.
"We saw the opportunity to do something that has never been done before," continued Plant. "We asked the International Sporting Federation and, because of our good relationship with them, they agreed. Basically, we are doing it to be innovative and because we can."
The fact that the men's downhill is typically the most popular event at major ski competitions also likely factored into this decision. Last winter's World Championship Men's Downhill at Beaver Creek, CO, drew the largest crowd of any ski race in US history.
"Lake Placid has a rich sporting heritage," said Olympic Regional Development Authority president, Ted Blazer. "We're sure to see a few more legends rise out of the Adirondacks at the Winter Goodwill Games."
The games will last for four days with up to 16 hours of competition per day. Turner Network Television (TNT) is the host-network and will have continuous coverage throughout.
Tickets for the games go on sale August 23, and are available at the Olympic Center Box Office (518-523-3330), through Ticketmaster (518-476-1000 or 802-862-5300), or on the internet at www.goodwillgames.com or www.tickets.com. Ranging from $10-$46, only 150,000 tickets will be available for the five-day event.