ISHPEMING, Mich. (WLUC) - World class skiing could soon be returning to the Upper Peninsula.
In a joint press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in Ishpeming, the Federation of International Skiing, as well as the Great Lakes Sporting Commission and Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced their intention to bring the Ski Jump World Cup back to Pine Mountain, in Iron Mountain.
In order to be eligible, Pine Mountain will have to undergo nearly $4 million in renovations. The state of Michigan helped out with a good chunk of that funding Wednesday afternoon.
"Today we're announcing a $3 million grant for the Pine Mountain Ski Jump, one of the largest artificial ski jumps in the world," said Whitmer.
The Federation of International Skiing is also looking at Copper Peak in Ironwood as a potential site for a World Cup. They would be required to make close to $15 million in renovations. Some of that funding could come from the state, who appropriated $10 million to the Great Lakes Sports Commission last year with Public Act 618.
"An investment like this is something that will have incredible economic ripples to the positive for all of the surrounding communities," said Whitmer.
Governor Whitmer is confident that an investment like this could pay dividends to not just Iron Mountain and Ironwood, or even just the Upper Peninsula, but to the whole state.
"This is going to be crucial for our tourism industry and our state’s economy,” said Whitmer. “In 2017 visitors to our state spent more than $1.2 billion in the Upper Peninsula alone."
Those in the world of skiing are excited to get back to North America, where a World Cup hasn't been held in more than 15 years.
"The national athletes here, they are invited to other events in Europe, they would like to invite their colleagues to come here to the States on the same level to compete," said FIS Race Director Walter Hofer.
Iron Mountain previously hosted World Cups in 1996 and 2000. Copper Peak hosted all the way back in 1981, and has now been closed for decades.
"It needs a complete reconstruction and refurbishing of everything it's used for," said Hofer.
Many others are excited about how this could grow the sport in the United States, which has already seen youth participation double in just the last five years.
“We really feel like we can make a center of gravity for that community out there to not only inspire their local youth, but create a center for outdoor recreation," said Billy Demong, Olympic gold medalist and executive director of USA Nordic Skiing.
At Wednesday’s press conference there were members of the Great Lakes Sports Commission, as well as members of the public and the ski jumping community. There was plenty of excitement from everyone involved on the future of the sport, and what this could mean.
Pine Mountain has made a bid to host the 2021 World Cup, and if chosen, there would be international athletes, international coverage, and Pine Mountain could become a premiere destination for skiers from around the world.
The official announcement on where the 2021 World Cup will be held is expected in October of this year.