VAIL — The finish stadium at Vail’s Golden Peak race course will only hold so many people. And “so many” isn’t nearly enough for world championship events.
That’s why the Vail Valley Foundation, the local organizing group for the 2015 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships, has moved a lot of off-mountain activities to Solaris, in the heart of Vail Village. That’s where the Opening Ceremonies, medal ceremonies, concerts and other events will take place from Feb. 2 to 15.
During a recent update to the Vail Town Council, Foundation president Ceil Folz laid out what’s been happening in planning to this point. Responding to a question from Vail Mayor Andy Daly, Folz said many of those events had first been planned for the Golden Peak finish area.
“But we needed (space for) 3,500 people, minimum, and we can’t quite get it,” Folz said. “We could only get to about 2,200 seats and that’s not enough.”
Folz said moving the Opening Ceremonies and other events to Solaris opens the capacity up to roughly 5,500 people, with the possibility for even larger crowds if money can be found for additional video screens.
‘Whole New Take’
Opening up the space allowed what Folz called a “whole new take” on Opening Ceremonies, one of the Foundation’s goals.
Vail Town Council member Jenn Bruno, a member of the organizing committee, said there will be “a lot of surprises” for the opening ceremonies.
“It’ll be an hour of complete programming, and will look different than anything done before.”
That hour-long ceremony is important, since there won’t be any grandstand seating. Organizers believe making people stand for an hour is doable for most people.
And those people will be attending a free event. Folz said staying at Golden Peak would have required selling tickets, and those tickets would have cost between $150 and $200 each. Opening the event to the public is an important element of the plan, Folz said.
While people who don’t go to the championship races at Beaver Creek will be able to watch the races in Vail via a live video feed, people around the country will be able to watch from their living rooms.
Many of the races will take place during prime time in Europe, an important consideration, but NBC will also have plenty of live coverage in this country. Of that network’s planned 25 hours of coverage, half will be live. Folz said the broadcast team will borrow ESPN’s “College Game Day” idea with live broadcasts from Vail. To help boost the enthusiasm, there will also be professional cheerleaders, most from Denver.
Another new twist is live performance of national anthems during every day’s awards ceremonies. The Colorado Children’s Choir is already rehearsing those anthems.
And, while not having the main races in Vail has been a prickly point for town officials, Folz said a number of national “hospitality houses” will be in Vail. The Italians will be at Cocina Rustica, she said, and the German team will be at the Sonnenalp. Audi will have a hospitality house at Matsuhisa, and the French are talking about taking over yet another Vail restaurant.
While the planning team remains in high gear, Folz said the mood of the organizers has shifted in the past few weeks.
“We’ve gotten past the point of being nervous and freaked out, and now we’re really excited,” she said.