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Minden Gears Up To Help Athletes Go For Gold At Tokyo Olympics

Indoor world-record-holding pole vaulter Armand Duplantis prepares to clear the bar with the assist of a UCS Spirit pole.
UCS Spirit

Indoor world-record-holding pole vaulter Armand Duplantis prepares to clear the bar with the assist of a UCS Spirit pole.

The Summer Olympic Games are a month from now in Tokyo, and tiny Minden is a major part of the games. 

Minden, 15 miles south of Carson City, is home to UCS Spirit, the world’s largest supplier of pole-vaulting poles. Its larger facility in South Carolina has supplied track and field products to four Olympic games. 

The company, which sells 8,000 to 10,000 poles a year, creates its poles in an hourlong process of heat, pressure, and sanding,

“It's all handmade fiberglass material, sort of like a sheet fabric, and we wrap that around a mold we call a mandrel,” said Chris Chappell, operations director for UCS Spirit.

The company's poles have been used in breaking more than 75 world records, including every women's world record. This year, its poles are being used in the Olympic trials, and in Tokyo, the company’s discus and shot put shots will also be used. 

The company's founders relocated to Nevada in the late 1960s from Southern California "largely because of the congestion and tax rates," said Steve Chappell, UCS Spirit general manager and father of Chris Chappell.

Steve Chappell, a British pole vaulting champion in the 1970s, said to look for big things at the Olympics from pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis.

"We think that he will improve the record. He's a very heavy favorite for the title of Olympic champion," Steve Chappell said. "He's made those records by a very large margin and we just have to expect there's a lot more to come.  

Duplantis, a 21-year-old who uses a UCS Spirit pole, holds the current world record of 20-feet-3-inches.



Steve Chappell, general manager, UCS Spirit;  Chris Chappel, operations director, UCS Spirit; 

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Zachary Green is the Coordinating Producer and a Reporter for KNPR's State of Nevada Program. He reports on Clark County, minority affairs, health, real estate, business, and gardening. You'll occasionally hear Zachary Green reporting and fill-in hosting on the State of Nevada program.