Here in the Centennial State, we have a love/hate relationship with big time sports. Sure we love our Broncos and Avalanche, but back in 1972, the voters of the state didn’t love the Winter Olympics and turned them (and the world) away.
Still, while we apparently didn’t want figure skating and bobsledding, Colorado has always supported World Cup skiing.
This February, Vail and Beaver Creek are hosting the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships from February 2 to 15. This is third time Vail has hosted the World Championships (also in 1989 and 1999), since they began at Portillo, Chile in 1966.
The World Is Coming
#Vail2015 is a big deal with more than 700 professional skiers from 70 countries participating in Mens’ and Ladies’ Downhill, Super G, Giant Slalom, Slalom and Alpine Combined events.
While those are big numbers, they are dwarfed by the anticipated television and online audience: over 750 million viewers. And while you’ll have plenty of opportunities to watch the races on a screen, it’s more fun to see them live.
Beginning with the opening ceremonies on Monday, February 2, week number one is focused on speed with the Downhill and Super G races.
Downhill is, arguably, skiing’s most famous discipline and it’s also a race where some of the best American athletes really shine. Barring another injury, look for Lindsey Vonn to back up her many World Cup triumphs with a victory in her home town. On the men’s side, Bode Miller hopes to compete after missing the first half of the season rehabbing from back surgery. Also watch for Steve Nyman. On the U.S. “B” Team, Nyman was 3rd in early December at the Birds of Prey World Cup race.
The U.S. Ski Team will announce it’s World Championship team on January 27th. With many athletes capable of competing and winning in multiple disciplines, the U.S. has a deep, versatile squad.
In addition to Vonn and Miller, the U.S. “A” Team includes David Chodounsky, Travis Ganong, Jared Goldberg, Tim Jitloff, Ted Ligety and Andrew Weibrecht on the men’s side and Stacey Cook, Julia Mancuso, Alice McEnnis, Mikaela Shiffrin and Leanne Smith on the women’s team.
During the second week of competition on Sunday, February 8, the action switches to the technical events (Giant Slalom and Slalom), beginning with Alpine Combined, which showcases the spectrum of speed and technique during one run of Downhill and two runs of Slalom.
Ski and Party (Of Course)
There’s a lot going on in Vail and Beaver Creek during the World Championships, with everything from nightly awards ceremonies, free concerts and fireworks in Vail, to internationally themed days, with food, beverages and entertainment in Beaver Creek.
Looking for tips on how to maximize my family’s fun, I turned to Andy Daly, Vail’s mayor and the owner of Powderhorn Resort. He had three suggestions.
First, plan to ski. Sure it’s fun to watch all the races (and eat all the great food), but as he explained, “With everyone’s focus on the racing at Beaver Creek, it’s a great time to ski Vail.”
Tip number two? Make new friends, especially European friends.
“Ski racing is a very big deal,” he explains. “Lots of Europeans will be visiting. Many of the teams and their fans will have hospitality houses and restaurants where they party.”
If you meet some of them, you may get invited to the party, too.
Of course, all this partying could interfere with your ski time, unless you know how to party like an Austrian.
My friend David, who frequents World Cup events explains. “The key to partying like Austrians is to ski like a maniac the next day, too…Ya!”
Come to Vail
After reading this, I hope you’ll join us, and the world, for #Vail2015. Opportunities to party and ski on a world stage don’t happen every day, and this one is sure to be memorable for all families.
Which leads me Andy Daly’s tip number three: Come to Vail.
“If you’ve never been to a World Cup race or World Championship, this is a wonderful opportunity to experience the core of competitive skiing and to see people from all over the world who really follow skiing and are totally dedicated. It’s an exciting, dynamic and, sometimes, intense atmosphere.”
When You Come
Organizers in Vail and Beaver Creek have been working toward this event for five years and they’ve got every detail down.
If you’re not skiing, free busses will take you to Red Tail Stadium at the base of the Birds of Prey and Raptor race courses. If you are skiing, (and why wouldn’t you be?), remote parking at Beaver Creek is free and you can catch a combination of buses and lifts to Beaver Creek Village and then ski over to the events.
Best of all, the races are free. There’s no admission charge or ticket required to watch the best skiers in the world.
More On Ski Racing:
- Mikaela Shiffrin: Going For Gold and Sharing the Table, May 8, 2014.
- Talking with Olympic Ski Racer (and Brave Ski Mom) Edie Thys Morgan, February 6, 2014.
- Ten Minutes with Ted Ligety, October 16, 2013.
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