When was the last time someone told you that you “needed” to see something or that you “had” to be somewhere?
Did you believe them ... and did you make it a point to see that particular thing or experience that specific event? Or, if seeing something special or being a part of a great time involved a number of other people, did you decide to pass on the opportunity and read about it later?
While I know that’s a lot of questions for the first paragraph of any column, they are extremely relevant to the upcoming 2015 FIS Alpine World Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek. Unfortunately it seems, whenever a big event comes to town anywhere, there are a great many misconceptions associated with it. These misconceptions can dramatically affect your enjoyment of the event or whether you even experience it at all.
During the course of the Fourth of July weekend, I was amazed how many times I heard how crazy this community is going to be during Worlds. The reasons were varied, but primarily revolved around the “fact” that we were completely booked, that there would be people everywhere and that we locals would be unable to live life as usual.
Interestingly enough, I also heard “expectations” of the exact opposite; that the World Championships presented a tremendous opportunity to make a lot of money over the course of the two weeks as it would bring a valley full of people that would need to pay whatever prices we decided to charge for services.
Not only are these sentiments at opposite ends of the spectrum, but they are both completely wrong. For instance, while there are indeed many people that come with Worlds, the community is not completely booked out and telling people this will only encourage them to look for other places to be during the two weeks.
On the other end of that spectrum, the philosophy of overcharging our World Championships guests because they “have” to be here will totally backfire. Just remember that one of the key reasons for hosting an event like the World Championships is providing a guest experience that will encourage repeat visits in the future. The Worlds have a much broader potential benefit window than just two weeks in February.
As for the locals who are “dreading” the onslaught because of the “inconvenience” of not having everything flow exactly as it does the other 350 days of the year, I would encourage you to allow yourself to get caught up in the excitement of the championships, rather than avoiding it.
These two weeks will be the absolute best time to be in the Vail Valley this winter. There will be more to see and do, if you allow yourself to experience the event, than at any other time of the year, including the Christmas and New Year’s timeframe, Presidents weekend or spring break. The championships come with their own special energy and international flavor, and even if you don’t go to the races, you will still find numerous ways to be touched by the Worlds.
And why wouldn’t you go to the races? The U.S. Ski Team will field one of its strongest teams in recent memory and should have medal contenders in practically every race. Can you imagine what it would be like to see Bode, Ted or Julia win a World Championships medal? And, what if Lindsey or Mikaela wins a World Championships medal at home? You’re going to want to be there because that would blow the roof off this valley.
To top it all off, many of the World Championships festivities are free, including all of the races, all of the medal ceremonies and nightly concerts at Solaris and all of the things that you just happen to stumble upon by just being here during the event.
Please don’t get caught up in misconceptions. There is a reason that many of the top ski resorts around the world battle for the honor of hosting a World Championships. It represents a tremendous opportunity to showcase our community to the world, while also offering a wonderful chance to convince the international television audience that isn’t here that they need to experience Vail and Beaver Creek for themselves.
So we will end this column where we started. You “need” to see the 2015 FIS Alpine World Championships and you “have” to be here to do it right, no matter whether you’re a local or a guest. If you allow yourself to get caught up in the atmosphere and excitement of Worlds and enjoy every minute of it, then you’ll never regret it.
Ceil Folz is president of the Vail Valley Foundation and president of the 2015 World Championships Organizing Committee. The 2015 World Championships are scheduled for Feb. 2-15.