World Cup Ski racing in Beaver Creek | Tricia's Top Weekend Picks |

Ski races, live music, libations and more during Birds of Prey weekend: Tricia’s weekend picks 12/6/19

Ski Racing 101

If you didn’t grow up ski racing, you may not know the difference between a tech event versus a speed event, but don’t worry, here’s a quick primer on what you’ll see this weekend at the Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup.


There are five disciplines, some are speed events, some are technical events. Many ski racers specialize in technical versus speed or the other way around. Some racers train for a combination of tech and speed events.

  • Slalom-this is a technical event with 56 to 70 gates spaced close together, testing the agility of a racer. The racers are traveling at slower speeds. The top 30 racers advance to the second run, which is called “making the flip”, with the fastest skier in the first race going out of the starting gate last on the second run. The skier with the lowest combined time from both runs wins.
  • Giant Slalom-or GS, a technical event that has the same amount of gates as the slalom, but the gates are spaced farther apart. Just like the slalom, this is a two-run format, with the top 30 racers advancing and the skier with the lowest combined time from both runs wins.
  • Super-G-this is a speed event with fewer gates over a longer course. There is only one run in super-G.
  • Downhill-this speed event has the least amount of gates and the fastest speeds of all of the disciplines. There is only one run in downhill.
  • Combined-this is a combination of a technical event and a speed event, with the lowest combined race time from each race winning the event.


  • Friday-super G – 10:45 a.m.
  • Saturday- downhill – 11 a.m.
  • Sunday – giant slalom-first run-9:45 a.m., second run-12:45 p.m.

By the Numbers:

  • 2,483 Feet-the Birds of Prey Course features a vertical drop of nearly 2,500 feet
  • 45%-the average gradient of the course is 27 %, increasing to 45 % in the middle of the course and again in the final third of the course
  • 1997-the first competition on Birds of Prey took place December 2-6, 1997
  • 1:39- the fastest World Cup or World Championships Downhill race time ever recorded on Birds of Prey is 1:39.59 by U.S. Ski Team’s Daron Rahlves in 2003
  • 2004- history was made with the one-two American downhill finish of Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves

Birds of Prey Way

Birds of Prey Way is the place to be before or after the races to meet up with friends, enjoy the live music, cheers to the day’s race results and get your groove on with the Silent Disco.

Silent Disco? If you haven’t heard of this type of party, don’t be shy, grab a pair of headphones and groove to your own sounds and dance like nobody’s watching. Each pair of headphones has a light that will indicate which song the person wearing them is listening to. So if you are feeling the beat and see someone else with the same colored light as you, go on over and dance next to them. Birds of Prey of a feather dance together. The Silent Disco, presented by TIAA Bank, will take place along Birds of Prey Way from 4 to 6 on Friday and is a free activity.

Kids love the excitement of watching the world’s fastest zoom down the hill. Some schools even take part of the day off to bring classes up to see the action and cheer on the racers. After the races, bring the kids to Beaver Creek Village for free ice skating from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday. I’ve also heard that you can wear the Silent Disco headphones on the ice rink if you dare.

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Kids can get up close and meet the racers at the U.S. Athlete Signing on Friday from 4 to 5 p.m. at Gorsuch in Beaver Creek Village. Bring a sharpie, take a selfie and have the athletes sign your helmet or anything else you want to keep as a memento.

After the silent disco, free ice skating and the autograph signing, stick around for fireworks at 6:15 p.m. After that, head down the escalators to the Vilar Performing Arts Center and view the latest Warren Miller film. A staple of the early part of the ski season, Warren Miller films have been a way for families to kick off the year for 70 years. Get inspired by the athletes featured in the films and the beautiful locations they travel to. This year’s film is called “Timeless” and there are three opportunities to see the film in the Vail Valley: Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 6 and 9 p.m. Get tickets and more information at  

Live Music

Enjoy live music throughout the whole weekend on the main stage by the Black Family Ice Rink in Beaver Creek Village:


  • Drunken Hearts-2 to 3:45 p.m.
  • DJ Walt White and the Global DJ Team 4 to 6 p.m.


  • Andy Thorn of Leftover Salmon and Mark Morris from Rapidgrass-9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
  • Whitacre-1 to 2:45 p.m.
  • Rocky Mountain Grateful Dead Review-3:15-5:45 p.m.


  • Andy Thorn of Leftover Salmon and Mark Morris from Rapidgrass-8:45 to 9:45 a.m.

Lots o’ libations

Even though the weekend centers around the races, it is also a party to celebrate having a world cup on American soil (most of the season’s races are in Europe) and the kick-off to winter. Thus, let’s raise a glass, and there are plenty of opportunities to grab a drink throughout the weekend. The following bars and restaurants are offering these specials:

Hooked-Wild Tonic sampling and swag-12 to 6 p.m., $4.50 happy hour Wild Tonic cans 3 to 5 p.m. and Wild Tonic included in two of Hooked’s new Tiki drinks.

C Bar-$6.50 Svedka cocktails and $10 Robert Mondavi bourbon barrel-aged fume blanc or cabernet

Coyote Cafe-Svedka, Tincup Whiskey and Robert Mondavi specials all weekend

Dusty Boot-Happy Hour-3 to 5 p.m.

The Met-Happy Hour-3 to 5 p.m.

Bloodies, anyone? Bloody marys will be poured up for free before the races start on Saturday and Sunday. These bloodies will be served up with some bluegrass music as part of the Bloodies and Bluegrass offering that starts at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and at 8:45 a.m. on Sunday.

Throughout the weekend, enjoy the Pumphouse Bar located in the center of Beaver Creek near the ice rink and a long Birds of Prey Way. They will be serving Pacifico beer, various spirits, wine, bubbles, and Wild Tonic, a hard Jun Kombucha that comes in different flavors. You may have tried a sample at last summer’s GoPro Mountain Games.

The Beers of Prey has become a regular part of the weekend, bringing in local, regional, national and even international breweries to Birds of Prey Way. “Colorado is no stranger to great brew festivals, but what sets this one apart is the amount of limited edition, seasonal and fan-favorite brews that the breweries bring in,” said Tom Boyd of the Vail Valley Foundation, the organization that produces the Birds of Prey races each year.

The fourth annual Beers of Prey event is presented by Ballast Point Brewing Company out of San Diego. This year’s event hosts 15 breweries:

  • 4 Noses Brewing Company
  • Ballast Point
  • Bonfire Brewing
  • Denver Beer Co.
  • Destihl Brewery
  • Eddyline Brewery
  • Great Divide
  • Holidaily Brewing Company
  • Lone Tree Brewing Company
  • New Belgium Brewing
  • Odell Brewing Company
  • Outer Range Brewing Company
  • Ska Brewing
  • Vail Brewing Company
  • Wild Tonic

Tickets are $35 and the event runs from 2-6 p.m. on Friday. PLEASE NOTE: After 7 p.m. on Friday, tickets will only be available for purchase on-site at the Vail Valley Foundation Booth near the Beaver Creek Ice Rink. New this year, the first 300 ticket buyers will receive a custom Beers of Prey OtterBox tumbler with their purchase. Tickets and more information can be found at

How to get there

How do you get to all the fun? Park in the Elk Lot or Bear Lot for $10. Please note that these lots are free after 1 p.m. if you are just going up for the festivities after the races. Regularly scheduled free shuttles will bring spectators from the lots to the Vilar Performing Arts Center and Birds of Prey Way expo area. Free race shuttles depart from the Covered Bridge, every five to ten minutes. Please note that as of press time, there is no skiing or snowboarding access to the finish area. However, skiers and riders will be able to bring their gear on the buses and leave the finish area via Birds of Prey Express (Lift No. 9) on skis and boards.

If you are staying in the hotels in Avon or are taking public transportation to Beaver Creek, then transfer from that bus to the buses at the covered bridge to get to the race venue.

Feeling ambitious? You can snowshoe up to the race venue on the Dally catwalk from the base of Beaver Creek Village.

Once you get there, you still have a five-minutes of stairs and an on-snow walk to Red Tail Stadium, so wear appropriate footwear. (Ladies, no heels unless they are wedge boots). Please allow one hour of travel time from the base of Beaver Creek to Red Tail Stadium to avoid missing any of the action. ADA access to the venue is available on request. Please contact Birds of Prey Registration at 970.748.5901.

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