America’s Winter Opening is a weekend for ski racing, beer, vintage onesies and more | VailDaily.com

America’s Winter Opening is a weekend for ski racing, beer, vintage onesies and more

Kim Fuller
Special to the Weekly

For many locals in the valley, Dec. 1 won't be a Friday that is spent in the office. This "unofficial holiday" is celebrated by those who are game for spending their day watching ski racing and raising a glass to the start of the winter season.

America's Winter Opening is the celebration in conjunction with the Beaver Creek Birds of Prey World Cup super-G, downhill and giant slalom races, scheduled for Dec. 1-3, with race week starting up Nov. 28 with the first optional day of downhill training.

"As a free event, the Birds of Prey has always had a strong festival atmosphere, but this year's America's Winter Opening plans are going to take it to the next level, starting with the Ted Ligety '80s ski party on Thursday and going all the way through the weekend," said Tom Boyd, media chief for the Birds of Prey ski races. "It's always been an unofficial local holiday. People take the day off work, they come up and they get to experience ski racing and everything that surrounds it, which is something that you can't find anywhere else in America."

Boyd said spectators will even be able to acquire a "doctor's note" that's being printed in the paper, so people can cut it out and take it to work with them in anticipation of a long weekend.

"Take the day off, come up on Friday, and kick off the winter season with the greatest ski racers in the world," he said.

This year brings a fresh race lineup — the downhill race, traditionally held on Friday, will move to Saturday; the super-G will move to Friday; and the giant slalom race will hold its Sunday position in the lineup.

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Party Like It's 1987

Festivities really start rolling on Thursday, Nov. 30, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the '80s Ski Welcome Party with Ted Ligety, held in Beaver Creek Village. Enjoy '80s cover band Rewind while sipping drinks from the Pumphouse Bar, and stay for the firework finale.

"A new video short that Ted did with GoPro hasn't been released yet, and that video will be premiering at this party," said Alex Miller, marketing and digital manager for the Vail Valley Foundation.

Ligety will also be the first emcee of the night to get things started, followed by a poster signing.

"Each poster he signs is going to have a number, and then after the signing is done, he'll to draw the number up on stage, and the winning number will win a GoPro and some other cool swag," Miller said.

And if you're an Epic holder, then don't miss out on the Flash Your Pass giveaway on Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. to be entered to win a VIP weekend at the races.

"So you get to go enjoy the races, VIP-style, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which is always a fun time," Miller said.

FAC and Beers of Prey

Celebrate a kickoff to winter from 3 to 6 p.m. with a special Friday Afternoon Club, or FAC, Birds of Prey style. Drink specials will be available in Beaver Creek Village, as well as a live press conference with NBC Sports' alpine skiing team of Dan Hicks, Bode Miller and Steve Porino at 3:30 p.m. Following the press conference will be a U.S. Ski Team athlete signing.

"This will be a really cool part of the races that is going to happen post-race in the village, and everyone can come and check it out because it's free," Miller said.

In its second year, the Beers of Prey craft beer tasting is a weekend highlight featuring a dozen breweries from across the country. Master beer makers like Oskar Blues, Avery, Bonfire, Dogfish Head, Ska, Vail Brewing Company and more will be pouring samples of limited edition and seasonal brews.

Last year, Beers of Prey was held in the Vilar Performing Arts Center. This year, it will be more integrated with the races — held outside in Beaver Creek Village. Tickets are $35 per person and available at http://www.bcworldcup.com.

"What's really cool about this event is that these brewer's won't be bringing their average typical beer you can find at a restaurant or a liquor store," Miller said. "There will be three of four tastes from each brewer of special releases and fan favorites, with cool tasting notes and great knowledge of what makes their brew special."

For the love of skiing

On Friday and Saturday evening, the Vilar Performing Arts Center will be showing Warren Miller's "Line of Decent" — the 68th ski and snowboard film from the production company.

"These ski films are pretty exhilarating," Miller said, "and it's a perfect way to get hyped up to go watch some really fast ski racing during the weekend."

The film has three showings: Friday, Dec. 1, at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Saturday, Dec. 2, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at http://www.vilarpac.org.

With the anticipation of the Winter Olympics, it's a big year for the athletes at the Birds of Prey World Cup, making it all the more exciting and entertaining for the fans.

"What we saw at the 2015 Championships is that this community loves to rally around ski racing, especially when there are concerts, parties, beer tastings, kids activities, fireworks, and all the things that take a weekend from good to great," Boyd said.

For more information, visit http://www.bcworld cup.com.