2015 organizers back from Germany | VailDaily.com

2015 organizers back from Germany

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Italy's Manfred Moelgg clears a gate on his way to win the bronze medal in the men's slalom, at the Alpine World Skiing Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Sunday, Feb.20, 2011. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

VAIL, Colorado – After a recent trip to Garmisch, Germany, for the World Alpine Ski Championships, local officials are realizing that the 2015 Vail Beaver Creek World Alpine Ski Championships is going to be quite the spectacle.

Some officials who were around for the 1989 Championships in Vail and the 1999 Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek already know this, but for those who weren’t around, seeing the championships up close and personal in Garmisch was a bit of a wake-up call.

Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler knew that hosting the World Championships was a big deal in the world of ski racing, but he didn’t realize the size and scale of the event until going to Garmisch.

Seeing the championships in Europe was especially exciting, because Europeans’ love for ski racing is something comparable to Americans’ love for football.

“It’s big,” Zemler said. “I don’t know that it’s their Super Bowl, but it’s something like that.”

The Vail Valley Foundation, which is hosting the 2015 Championships and hosted both the 1989 Championships in Vail and the 1999 Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek, knows the value in attending other major ski racing events well before it’s time to host one at home.

John Dakin, vice president of communications for the Vail Valley Foundation, said the knowledge gained while attending other events is invaluable.

“We’ve always felt the need and realized the importance of going to other people’s events,” Dakin said.

Along for the recent trip to Garmisch were Zemler, Vail Valley Foundation President Ceil Folz, Vail Valley Foundation Vice President of Operations and Sales Mike Imhoff, Vail Resorts’ Mountain Division Co-President John Garnsey, Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger and others.

That outside perspective that local officials have while wandering around a place many of them have never been to before is a lot like the perspective many visitors will have once in Vail and Beaver Creek in 2015.

The visit teaches them about what works and what doesn’t. Are there enough signs? Are they in the right places? Is it easy to move around? What’s the public transportation like?

Dakin said when several Vail Valley Foundation representatives went to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, they came back with a clear idea about what to do with signage for the 1999 Championships.

While signs might seem like a really insignificant thing, Dakin said the perspective they got from going to this place they’d never been to before helped them organize the signs better in Vail and Beaver Creek in 1999.

Zemler, who wasn’t around when Vail hosted the Championships in 1989 or 1999, was particularly interested in seeing the impacts on the commercial areas in Garmisch. There are certain nights during the two-week event that bring a lot of people out and about, he said.

“There are all sorts of things going on keeping people engaged and involved,” Zemler said. “The scale of some of this is really quite significant.”

There’s a huge sponsor presence, he said, with tents and expositions and other activities. There’s a really active European audience that will certainly travel to Colorado in 2015, and there are celebrations, ceremonies and security logistics to figure out.

“There’s always things you can learn, no matter how apples to oranges the comparison may be,” Dakin said.

Garmisch is a perfect example of apples and oranges. The town itself has a population of about 25,000 – much larger than Vail and Beaver Creek combined. Being there, however, gives local organizing officials ideas, and more importantly, gets them thinking about all of the what-ifs for 2015.

The 2015 organizing committee has its first meeting next month, just less than four years ahead of the event itself.

“I don’t think you can be too far ahead of it – I think there’s a lot of work to be done,” Zemler said. “Are we way ahead of it? I don’t know.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.

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