This season, over 200 of the world’s top athletes competed in Valley events for close to $20 million in prize money. World class competitions including the HITS Horse Show (Thermal), USA’s Modern Pentathlon (Palm Springs), Humana Challenge (La Quinta), Kraft Nabisco (Rancho Mirage) and the BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells) attracted athletes from 50+ countries worldwide.
These events not only bring international recognition to the Coachella Valley, but millions in revenue while providing locals with top-notch entertainment.
The 22nd annual HITS Horse Show featured the largest purse in show jumping history, the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix presented by Lamborghini of Newport Beach. Horse and rider teams representing 11 countries came from as far away as Australia and included 10 Olympians. The top prize was awarded to Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and her beautiful and talented Bella Donna.
The first annual USA Modern Pentathlon kicked off the sport’s season in Palm Springs. It was the first in the 2013 World Cup series and followed by events in Brazil, China, and Hungary. 26 countries were represented and 75% of the top athletes were current Olympians providing some fierce competition. The Women’s Gold went to Victoria Tereshuk of the Ukraine and the Men’s Gold to Aleksander Lesun of Russia. Each took home $5,000 of the $30,000 total prize money awarded. The top 36 men and women of this event qualified to compete at the World Cup Finals in Russia this month.
La Quinta`s Humana Challenge featured an impressive field representing 11 countries and including 12 of the top 50 golfers in the world competing for over $5 million in prize money. USA’s Brian Gay took top honors this year. In partnership with the Clinton Foundation, Humana has become so much more than just a world-class PGA Tour event. It has generated focus on healthy living and delivered hands-on action that is creating sustainable change for members of our community year round.
This year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage featured all 10 of the top 10 LPGA players in the Rolex World Rankings, and 23 of the top 25. Korea’s Inbee Park took home the grand prize and her share of the $2 million prize.
Last, but certainly not least, was the thrilling BNP Paribas Open held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. 130 Olympians representing 38 countries played night and day throughout the 2 week tournament. International stars Rafael Nadal of Spain and Russia’s Maria Sharapova won the singles finals and took home the lion’s share of the $12 million in prize money.
These spectacular events not only bring together athletes from around the world, but spectators as well. The economic benefits to our community match the thrill of being a primary destination for the world’s elite athletes. And each event continues to grow: The Indian Wells Tennis Garden expansion is underway; the Kraft Nabisco is under new management by one of the world’s leading golf event producers, IMG; and HITS-Thermal 2014 will join HITS-Saugerties and HITS-Ocala as part of the newly launched Triple Crown Challenge of Show Jumping.
We all look forward to next season and the many exciting developments to come!