Vail Daily column: Excitement builds for 2015 Worlds
July 7, 2014
The highlight of next season will be the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships taking place in Vail and Beaver Creek from Feb. 2 to 15, just a few short months after the 2014 Men's World Cup Birds of Prey races take place in Beaver Creek from Dec. 5 to 7.
Two Ski & Snowboard Club Vail alumni and past world champions are medal favorites in one or more disciplines. Both past world and Olympic downhill champion Lindsey Vonn, working towards a return to competition following two years of injury, and current world and Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin are looking to add to their World Championships medal tally.
Adding to the excitement at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail for the upcoming season will be a return to action by Ski & Snowboard Club Vail's Sarah Schleper, the first World Cup slalom winner from Vail, for her adopted nation of Mexico. Young guns and current U.S. Ski Team members Paula Moltzan, Abby Ghent and Katharine Irwin and comeback athlete and former U.S. B Team member Will Gregorak are among Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes and alumni vying for USA roster spots on the World Championships team.
SURE TO INSPIRE YOUNG ATHLETES
The Alpine World Championships, which are second only to the Olympics, host the largest, most elite group of alpine ski racing talent in the world. This competition series is sure to inspire the club's young snowsports athletes, the community at large and those passionate about ski racing from around the world.
The Vail Valley Foundation, which is coordinating the upcoming season's World Cup and World Championships, has been hard at work on these events. It takes a village, as the expression goes, to produce this caliber of event (let alone two of them), and volunteers are the critical citizens of this village.
JOIN THE TALON CREW
One of the largest volunteer recruitment efforts for the 2014 World Cup in Beaver Creek and the 2015 World Championships is going on right now — securing the Talon Crew. This intensely dedicated group of volunteers is focused on building and maintaining the best possible alpine race courses for top FIS alpine competitors from around the world. The work is physically taxing, but, as I've heard told by those crew members, "something deep in the human psyche craves this sort of challenge … for most of (us), work usually means staring at a computer screen, rarely toiling with (our) hands, (our) backs and (our) bodies. … If physical labor is rare, true communal labor is even rarer."
I don't think I could say it any better than the Talon Crew does. "It's about being a part of something bigger than ourselves while celebrating the sport we love. We're a community that's one week (or more) long and a thousand friendships deep. We are the Talon Crew."
The Talon Crew is seeking skiers capable of safely skiing a slope in race condition, preferably with some race course maintenance experience, to volunteer for the 2014-15 season World Cup in Beaver Creek and World Championships.
Volunteers are asked to work a minimum of four days during the Birds of Prey World Cup and six days during the World Championships. These volunteers will receive various perks, as described at http://www.taloncrew.com, but clearly that is not what keeps them coming back. It is the bonds formed as this team of hundreds of volunteers works together on common goals and shares an amazing sense of accomplishment, while all the while having fun. To learn more and sign up as a volunteer go to http://www.taloncrew.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On set-up, training and race days the Talon Crew is joined by the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail alpine staff along with club parents and athletes. They are up and down the slopes performing demanding physical tasks such as transporting and installing nets, serving as slip crew, acting as gate runners and doing other miscellaneous tasks requiring the ability to safely and quickly move on the race courses specially prepared to world class racing standards.
They too experience the camaraderie, the thrill of being in the action supporting world-class athletes and using their special skills to contribute to the community effort that is the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.
RACERS ARE GRATEFUL
No one is more grateful than the world-class competitors who realize they could not achieve their level of performance on these courses without the work of the Talon Crew and the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail coaches and volunteers.
The 2015 World Championships will bring a much higher level of recognition to the sport of ski racing among American youth and adults alike, being only the fourth to be held in the U.S., with two previous ones held in the Vail Valley in 1989 and 1999 and one held in Aspen in 1950.
There is nothing more thrilling for me than to see this level of competition right here in our own backyard. And what better way to inspire character growth and excellence in Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes than to have them stand among the "best in the world." We hope you too will stand by their sides, whether as a volunteer or a spectator, and be part of something monumental in our Vail Valley.