Ironman Tahoe: Businesses already feeling economic impacts

Margaret Moran
Walter Blum, a sales associate for Tahoe Mountain Sports in Kings Beach, shows off the store's triathlon wetsuit inventory. Staff brought in the wetsuits and other items specifically for crowds expected in the area this week for Ironman Lake Tahoe.
Margaret Moran / | Sierra Sun

KINGS BEACH, Calif. — Walking over to a display wall with racks of wetsuits, swim caps and compression wear, Tahoe Mountain Sports’ sales associate Walter Blum points out the store’s newest inventory.

“We’re definitely gearing up and ready — stocking up for all the last minute things the athletes and the support teams might need,” he said.

The event Tahoe Mountain Sports in Kings Beach is preparing for is Sunday’s Ironman Lake Tahoe triathlon, which is expected to generate an estimated $10 million in revenue for the local economy.

“Ironman business is actually quite good,” Blum said. “We’re getting quite the flow of athletes and their support teams coming through our store.”

The event is expected to attract 10,000 visitors — both athletes and their supporters — some of whom have already arrived.

“We’ve had some residual business, (with athletes) coming up to train — to bike, to get to altitude,” said Dave Ferrari, co-owner of Ferrari’s Crown Motel in Kings Beach. “I think it’s been a pretty good thing — good for us.”


Reservations for the month of September are up 41.5 percent from last year, as of June 30, said Andy Chapman, chief marketing officer for the North Lake Tahoe Chamber/CVB/Resort Association.

“The triathlon has already had a huge positive economic impact on our community,” Chapman said in a statement. “Many resorts have sold out hotel rooms for the race weekend.”

While Ferrari’s Crown Motel was nearly 100 percent booked earlier, a few cancellations due to competitor injury left the 71-room lodging establishment at about 80 percent occupancy leading up to Ironman, Ferrari said Saturday.

Yet, it’s expected the motel will be filled by the weekend, said Jonas Tomlinson, front desk manager.


While other businesses haven’t seen a significant increase in sales yet, many are optimistic things will pick up later this week.

“I imagine the village will be packed,” said Kate Taylor, manager of Atlas, a men’s clothing and shoe store, in Squaw Valley. “That’s what we’re hoping for … and have people sort of shopping all day.”

While the 2.4-mile Ironman swim will take place at Kings Beach, the 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run portions throughout the North Shore and Truckee will end at the Village at Squaw Valley, which is hosting various Ironman-themed events throughout the weekend.

Supporters — when they’re not cheering on their athletes from the sidelines — will have also various shops and eateries to enjoy.

“I’m just looking forward to it — the business and a nice busy weekend before it kind of slows down,” said Shawna Blodgett, manager of Olympic Valley Eyewear in Squaw.


Normally, Labor Day weekend signals the last uptick of summer business at Lake Tahoe and Truckee, but Ironman — which inked a five-year contract with the region — is expected to extend the peak season.

Chapman said that’s part of the strategy — to secure human-powered sporting events for the region during slow parts of the year.

“Competitors and spectators alike will be eating, shopping and playing in the area throughout the weekend,” he said.

Ironman Lake Tahoe marks the first time since 2001 that California has held a full-distance Ironman race.

“It’s going to be quite the event,” Blum said. “We’re really gearing up, hoping it’s a huge success.”

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