As the host of the 2015 Audi FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, we are required to run what’s called a “test” event to ensure that we are indeed ready to bring the world to our valley. Our test event just concluded with the running of Raptor, immediately followed by our annual Birds of Prey World Cup. So as the dust settles on our test, how did we do?
There are a couple of answers to that question. The test event not only allowed us to run racers on our newly completed women’s speed course, Raptor, but also provided an invaluable learning experience in every area. During those few weeks, our course crews tested themselves against the elements, while also working both the women’s and men’s course, moving smoothly from one to the other.
Accreditation was able to use our new system and test not only the format, but also who is allowed to go where. Our press got their first glimpse of the new Talons building, which will serve as their home as the 2015 Media Center and stress tested the new fiber backbone that was installed this past summer on Beaver Creek Mountain.
One of the biggest things we tested was our international team for our host broadcasting. We increased the number of cameras on the course from 16 to 26 and the number of people working on our TV side from 40 to 150. We dramatically increased the number of hours of broadcast with 8.5 hours of live or same-day coverage of the two weeks of racing and the quality of production we sent to the world was amazing — all in preparation for 2015 when we’ll have over 200 camera positions!
In addition to all of these tests and races, we held our World Broadcaster Meeting and our 2015 Sponsor Summit just to add a little extra challenge. So — how did we do?
The answer to that is we did great. We passed a lot of our tests and failed a lot. We saw things that were far better than we thought they would be and things that were nothing like what we thought or hoped.
We had unbelievable television pictures, but couldn’t talk to each other on our cell phones in the stadium. We pushed our staff, our Mountain Ops team and our volunteers to the edge, and they excelled at every point. We saw great successes from our home team, and our hometown girl Mikaela, and disappointing days as well.
We had days of transportation that were seamless and days that were far from it. We pushed ourselves to test everything we could, and we learned from our successes and our failures and both of those will make us better for it. That’s the ultimate goal, to learn and to take those lessons and improve. We have done that.
But there were two areas where our successes were off the charts. Our team on the mountain, both our Beaver Creek Mountain Operations team and our volunteer Talon Crew were amazing. What they achieved from the moment they began building the courses to the last racers’ turn on Dec. 8 was nothing short of miraculous.
The dedication and skill that we see from this team is unparalleled in the world. Yes, in the world. Just ask the Austrians, the French, the Swiss, the Italians and the Scandinavians. Just ask the very best skiers in the world what they think of our team on the hill and they will tell you. There is nobody better, anywhere. If they could take our team on the road with them, they would. They are that good.
Everyone Felt Welcome
The other area of huge success is all of you. It is this community. We heard it over and over again from our broadcasters to our sponsors to our athletes and special guests. They were astounded by the warmth and commitment of our volunteers, the dedication to excellence from our staff and team and the energy and excitement of our community for the World Championships. They felt everywhere they went that they were welcomed, and they left us feeling that they were already home here.
So, thanks to all of you. Vail and Beaver Creek are the world class resorts you all know them to be.
If you came here or live here because you believed this is where excellence and hospitality come together, then the World Cup has proven you to be a wise person. And you have proven through these last few weeks, through this “test event,” to have passed with flying colors.
We can do better with our transportation and improve our cell service and lots of other things that are fixable. But what we could never fix, and what we don’t need to fix is who we are and what we stand for. In that we are the best in the world, and we are ready to welcome the world to our home.
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, 2015.