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High Altitude Training Crib gains momentum in first year

September 16, 2011

“The Crib” is about to close up shop for the season.

It has been home to runners, cyclists, biathletes and sports media for four months. Now, Tourism Director John Urdi said it is up to them to spread the word about one of the most innovative high-altitude training facilities anywhere.

Technically it has no name, but every since its inception last winter, Urdi has called it the “High Altitude Training Crib.”

Now it’s merely “The Crib,” a two-bedroom (with loft) townhouse at Snowcreek that can handle six (or more if some want to choose a spot on the floor).

“The general feedback from everybody who’s come here,” Urdi said, “was ‘I want to come back and I want to bring my team,’ no matter who they ran for or rode for.”

The Crib is situated close to the Snowcreek Athletic Club. The athletes all had access to the club’s facilities, Urdi said.

The project was linked directly to one of the core elements of the town’s “Recreation Strategies” document (“RecStrats”), which emphasized Mammoth as a high-altitude training Mecca.

The expense of The Crib was borne by Mammoth Tourism, which shelled out $2,000 a month ($8,000 total).

The majority of athletes who took advantage of the Crib were triathletes and cyclists, Urdi said.
There was, for example, Lesley Paterson, a superb Bay Area triathlete.

“She couldn’t have been happier,” Urdi said. “She fell in love with the place. She loved the altitude, the training, the weather and the scenery, obviously.

“The triathletes are big here. Chris Lieto has trained here for a number of summers, and they pay attention to that.”

But Mammoth also is squarely in the cross hairs of the road cyclists, too. Last year, in advance of the Amgen Tour of California, one of the members of Team Bissell trained in Mammoth, rode the race and told just about everybody how great it was.

That, in turn, helped gain the attention of tour organizers, who visited The Crib earlier in the summer.
Last season, the Tour was to begin at Lake Tahoe, but organizers had to move the start to a lower elevation bebecause of a pesky (and big) spring blizzard.

“We were a little concerned with our bid for next season that they’d be gun shy from a mountain finish or stage,” Urdi said.

“But they look at the opportunity to continue these stages. They’re great stages. They’re different and challenging, and I think they like having that rather than having a milquetoast course that hasn’t really given anybody any fits.”

Also taking advantage of The Crib was Tour de France cyclist Freddy Rodriguez, from Berkeley.
As of yet, there is no measurable payoff for The Crib, other than word of mouth and social networking by the athletes who visited.

“The word of mouth gets out there. It’s been productive. The people who were here tweeted out a lot of pictures, and they’re all over Facebook.”

Urdi said he’s looking for something bigger next summer.

“The goal here is to add a sponsor for next year,” Urdi said. “It could become, for example, something like the PowerBar House. What we want is to make it a self-sustaining program.”

Urdi said he would push The Crib at all the big races coming up, such as January’s Olympic Trials in Houston, the New York City Marathon and the Boston Marathon.

And, he said, he has spread the word among many media outlets.

“I’ll host media any time they want to talk about us.”

The lease on the crib ends on September 30. Until then, it’s open for athletes, coaches and media.
“It was a first-year program and our goal was to bring in athletes from around the country to come up and train, and we did that.

“The point was to get the word out about Mammoth being a fantastic place to train.”

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