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U.S. Ski Officials Debate Security Measures

Denver, Colo. Oct. 8, 2001 (AP by Nick Wadhams)--U.S. ski and snowboard officials will heighten security measures for World Cup and Olympic qualifying events this winter following last month's terrorist attacks.

``Travel and security are always things we look at carefully,'' Tom Kelly of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association said Friday. ``Obviously, we look at it now with a heightened sense of awareness. Obviously, our athletes are aware of that.''

The association is coordinating security for U.S.-based events but is withholding details.

The United States will play host to several professional skiing, snowboarding and skating events before the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The World Cup stops in Colorado later this year, and Olympic qualifying races will be held at Park City and Snowbasin in Utah.

``The measures that we're taking, both existing and supplemental, are things we've been instructed and choose not to relate to the public,'' said Andy Wirth, a spokesman at Steamboat Springs Ski Area, which will play host to Nordic combined and freestyle events.

``We will be doing everything we can to secure the safety of the athletes and the spectators,'' he said.

Some athletes have expressed concern about safety after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

``At any event that brings a large number of people together, security issues and concerns are more pressing than they were a month ago,'' said Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association. ``I don't think the venues where ski racing and snowboarding occur are going to be any exception to that.''

One major concern is athletes going abroad. Americans have been given new guidelines to be more aware of how to handle themselves abroad, said Sarah Bergstrom, alpine events manager for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.

Super Series and World Cup races are scheduled at Beaver Creek, Colo., in December. Resort spokeswoman Emily Jacob said that security measures have not been worked out but she expected changes.

The Olympics in February are the primary concern, officials said. For the games, Utah expects to call up 2,000 members of the Utah National Guard to assist with security, and organizers have gone to Capitol Hill to press for money for enhanced security measures.

Because of the stress on the system, there won't be much left over for Gold Cup and Olympic qualifying events at Park City and Snowbasin in the end of December, said David Tubbs, a former FBI anti-terrorism investigator who works for Utah's Olympic security command.

``I guess it would be comparable to going to see an NFL game and going to see the Super Bowl,'' Tubbs said. ``Yes, there's always a concern, but not on the level we would do with the Olympics.''

Officials say there are no plans to scrap any of the ski races.

For more information on the U.S. Ski Team, log on to www.usskiteam.com

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press

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