For two days last January, Denver added skiers and snowboarders to the skyline when the Metro Denver Sports Commission — in conjunction with the International Ski Federation and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association — built a 106-foot-tall ramp in Civic Center Park for a World Cup competition meant to highlight snow sports in Colorado.
But Big Air won't be back in 2012 — and probably won't ever return, says Sue Baldwin, development director for the commission, also known as Denver Sports.
"We would have loved to have made it an annual event, and [the International Ski Federation] was willing to look at it," she says, "but the timing didn't work." The federation schedules its events from October through December, Baldwin explains. It made an exception for January's Big Air and might have considered it again, but Denver Sports has its own scheduling problems, with many other events slated for the first few months of 2012, including the NCAA Women's Final Four, which takes place here in April. But moving it earlier is no solution, given the weather.
"You never know," Baldwin notes. "It could be 70 degrees in November." And that would make it hard to produce the man-made snow needed to cover that giant ski jump in the park.
The bigger problem, though, was covering the costs of Big Air. The tab for producing the expo was about $1.2 million, and although Baldwin won't give more specifics, she acknowledges that Big Air lost money. And because of the city's strict rules about ticketed events in public parks, it's unlikely that Big Air would ever make money in Denver, she adds.
But Big Air doesn't need to come back, because it already accomplished what Denver Sports wanted: "When we are evaluating these events, you ask: Can you make money? Can the city get branding? And lastly, what can it do for our international resumé?" Baldwin says that Big Air did a lot on the resumé front, which is especially important to the organization now that it's contemplating bidding on the 2022 Winter Olympic Games — an idea that will surely see as much big air as it will hot air over the next year, since Colorado voted down the 1976 Games after they'd been awarded to Denver.
In the meantime, Denver Sports may put on another winter-sports-related event in 2013, Baldwin says, but it would be on a smaller scale — curling, maybe? — and produced in-house rather than in league with any other sporting associations.
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Tri, tri again: Big Air isn't the only big event that's going to leave a big hole in the Denver schedule in 2012. Biennial of the Americas is "an international event that celebrates the culture, ideas and people of the Western Hemisphere, hosted by the City of Denver," according to its website — which hasn't been updated since the ambitious inaugural bash in July 2010. And now the Biennial won't be back until at least the summer of 2013, which will make it...a triennial? Although the first bash was pulled together in less than a year, organizers decided that more time was needed for the second incarnation, particularly since much of the previous management team had moved on.
And at least the Biennial now has a new director in place: Abaseh Mirvali, a native of Iran who previously served as the executive director of the internationally renowned Fundación/Colección Jumex in Mexico City, and most recently had headed Mirvali Projects, her own contemporary arts organization, this fall.
If at first you don't succeed, tri, tri again...