MCHENRY — Local dignitaries pushed the button to begin the One Year Countdown Clock for Deep Creek 2014: International Canoe Federation Canoe Slalom World Championships on Tuesday morning. An unveiling of the clock was held at the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s an honor and privilege to be here today to help kick off what is one year out from what will be an iconic event for the state of Maryland, the western region of the states and for the U.S. in general,” said Terry Hasseltine, executive director of the Maryland Office of Sports Marketing.
The 2014 World Championships will mark the 25th anniversary since they were held in 1989 on Savage River and ICF is excited about coming back, said County Commissioner Gregan Crawford.
“This is the largest inbound international sporting event in the United States in 2014. That is an accomplishment that is second to none” said Hasseltine. “Garrett County is setting itself as an example of sports in the sports marketplace in the United States by hosting this world championship. This is a difference maker in the grand scheme of sports in the United States but we are hosting it here in Maryland.”
An executive committee of about 13 people began preparing in 1985 for the 1989 World Championships, according to Mike Logsdon, executive director of Adventure Sports Center International, who was on the executive committee for the 1989 event. The sport of canoeing and kayaking has changed a lot in the last 25 years and it now has a larger following, noted Logsdon.
“It was a challenge then on how to educate spectators about what they were going to see; now it’s much more understood,” said Logsdon in an interview with the Times-News following the countdown event.
Todd Copley, executive director of Deep Creek 2014, stressed that this is the second time in history for the World Championships in the United States. The 1989 event drew the paddle world to America and really showcased the region, according to Copley.
“That one event, believe it or not, shaped the history of what happened in this region as well,” said Copley. “What followed that was the attraction of the 1992 Olympic trials that came here,” said Copley. “There was a lot of impetus after that event in the founding of Adventure Sports Institute at Garrett College as well as the attraction of a myriad of legacy sporting events.”
The 1989 event led to the hosting of the Savage Man, the Grand Fondo, as well as the Center of Adventure and Experiential Learning at Garrett College, according to Copley.
“That event was one of the defining moments in establishing this region as an epicenter for adventure sports,” said Copley.
During the 1989 event, there were about 10,000 spectators, according to Logsdon. The 2014 event is expected to draw 35 to 40 International teams; 1,200 coaches, athletes and support staff; 35,000 sponsors and will have a $20 million economic impact, according to Crawford. Crawford also noted that the 2014 event will provide the area with some international broadcast opportunities.
Not only will the number of spectators differ between the two World Championships but the venue differs as well. Next year’s world championship will take place Sept. 16-21 in McHenry at ASCI, the world’s only mountaintop whitewater course, which was built to host it.
“The whitewater course was built knowing that it would host a world class canoe competition,” said Logsdon.
“It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to build that facility on the hill,” said Sen. George Edwards. “It’s there and look what it’s done, it’s drawn this fantastic event to Garrett County, which is going to benefit this part of the state tremendously. This, as I see it, is maybe the first stepping stone. We can be the epicenter of adventure sports not only in Maryland, and the United States but in the world.”
Minor adjustments are needed to prepare the whitewater course for the event, according to Joe Schroyer, director of operations at ASCI. Other projects at ASCI will include building a natural amphitheater and an 800- square-foot pavillion.
Garrett County was awarded $1 million from the state’s capital budget for upgrades to ASCI. The proceeds will be used as a grant to the county commissioners for the planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction and capital equipping of ASCl. The project will also include upgrading telecommunications and building new and upgrading existing infrastructure and facilities. Delegate Wendell Beitzel was instrumental in securing the funding through Gov. Martin O’Malley’s capital budget, according to Crawford.
“Hopefully, this 2014 event will really set the stage for a lot of future activity and growth in this adventure sports arena here in Garrett County,” said Beitzel.
During the countdown event, Julianna Albowicz, assistant to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, presented certificates to Crawford and Hasseltine in recognition of the one year countdown to Deep Creek 2014.
Copley, who was part of the U.S. delegation to the 2013 ICF World Championships held in Prague, Czech Republic, noted that there was palpable excitement at that event.
“I cannot describe the excitement that exists out there, not only within the management team and the Host Organizing Committee for Deep Creek 2014 but also at the highest ranks in the sporting communities within the ICF,” said Copley.
On Sept. 15, Deep Creek 2014 accepted the ICF flag on behalf of the U.S., the state of Maryland and on the behalf of Garrett County, according to Copley.
“In order to get to that moment, it took years of dedication but most importantly a grandiose vision on the part of numerous individuals,” said Copley.
Contact Elaine Blaisdell at email@example.com.