Friday, January 9, 2009

US pole vaulters to start their own tour...

There was a story behind the story at last weekend’s 19th annual UCS Spirit Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nevada.

The concept of a U.S. Pole Vault Tour was proposed during a closed-door meeting with 25 of the nation’s elite pole-vaulters and embraced by the likes of 2008 (editor's note: it was actually 2000) Olympic gold medalist Stacy Dragila, 2004 Olympic silver medalist Toby Stevenson and 2007 World Outdoor champ Brad Walker.

Tour co-founder Tye Harvey, the 2001 World Indoor silver medallist, and Jeff Hartwig, a two-time Olympian and four-time USA Outdoor champ, delivered an in depth 60-minute tour proposal.

“I’ve been a proponent of this for a while now,” Walker said. “We’ve talked about doing something like this for years. So, the opportunity to hear the whole plan was very cool.”

The U.S. Pole Vault Tour – proposed as multi-sponsored, nationally televised two-day events – is scheduled to debut in May or June in Sacramento.

“I’ve always thought, why can’t pole vaulting do something like what the pro bull riders did when they broke off on their own from rodeo,” said Dragila, a two-time world champion. “This is a great opportunity to get ourselves out there and show people that our sport is cool and fun to watch. I’m all for it.”

Dragila, who was heavily involved in rodeo as a youngster growing up in Auburn, Calif., paralleled the proposed USPV Tour to a similar situation in pro rodeo when in 1994 a separate organization was formed for bull riding alone.

Since the inception of Professional Bull Riding, the sport’s popularity has grown to a lofty position as the seventh most watched televised sport in the nation.

“I’d love to be a part of the tour. I’m in 100 percent,” Stevenson said. “It’s about time for something like this for pole vaulting. Either you reinvent yourself for today’s audience or you don’t exist. And that’s what pole vaulting is doing with the tour.”

Here's a link to a discussion on how the USPV tour, which appears to have many elements of pro beach volleyball's AVP Tour.

The proposed USPV seven-city tour will conclude with a Tour Championship.

NOTE: The US Pole Vault Tour and contributed to this report.

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