Beaver Creek women’s speed course named ‘Raptor’

U.S. Ski Team downhiller Leanne Smith arcs a turn on “Raptor” during the Team’s test camp in April.
Special to the Daily |

BEAVER CREEK — The power and grace of the majestic birds of prey family will show the way as the world’s fastest women take flight on “Raptor,” Beaver Creek’s new ladies’ speed course for the upcoming 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

“There has obviously been considerable discussion about what the ladies’ course would be named,” said Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation and the 2015 World Championships organizing committee. “Given its proximity to Birds of Prey, the natural inclination was to try to find a name that would be both complementary and that could stand alone. We definitely feel that Raptor is a name that works well with Birds of Prey and, given the majesty of the raptor family, I think we have accomplished both goals.”

Origins of the name

The term “raptor” is derived from the Latin word rapere, meaning to seize or take by force. The birds in this family have well developed senses, especially vision, and large, powerful talons and beaks that aid them in hunting prey.

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Raptor symbols are also very special to Native Americans, with their ability to soar above the clouds, perhaps to the heavens, and their sense of freedom serving as a source of inspiration.

Because of their amazing power of flight, many raptors are revered as bringers of messages and symbols of change. Their feathers having many spiritual and ritual uses.

The new Beaver Creek ladies’ speed course has been constructed over the course of the past two summers in anticipation of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. The new Downhill course incorporates portions of Peregrine and Golden Eagle, along with two new cuts that have been dubbed Kestrel on the trail map.

The course, located skier’s right of Birds of Prey, will join the men’s course at the Red Tail Jump and flows into the current finish arena.

‘Challenging to say the least’

“It’s challenging to say the least,” said U.S. Ski Team downhiller Stacey Cook. “It’s narrow and in your face. We’re right up against the fences and there’s a lot of forces to deal with, particularly high speeds combined with big turns, which is something that doesn’t get combined very often in women’s downhill. You’re going to have to be really strong to be fast.”

“There’s going to be a lot of wide eyes when the rest of the world gets their first look at the slope at the end of November,” said U.S. Ski Team member Leanne Smith. “I think it’s going to be one of the more popular downhills on the women’s World Cup tour.”

Race schedule

Raptor will get its first official test Nov. 29-Dec. 1, when the Women’s World Cup descends on Beaver Creek for downhill, super-G and giant slalom competitions.

The Men’s Birds of Prey World Cup is slated for the following weekend, Dec. 6-8, also with downhill, super-G and giant slalom racing.

Scheduled from Feb. 2-15, 2015, the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek are expected to showcase athletes from over 70 nations.

The event is also expected to draw an estimated 750 million worldwide television viewers and an onsite media and broadcast entourage of approximately 1,500 members.

For additional information on the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek, visit http://www.vail

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