Birds of Prey World Cup races a go after FIS snow control
Speed races to take flight starting Dec. 3, with a downhill sandwiched between two super-Gs
The Xfinity Birds of Prey World Cup speed races in Beaver Creek have been confirmed following the International Ski Federation’s official snow control on Sunday.
The races will take place Dec. 3-5, with two super-G races and a downhill scheduled.
“We look forward to hosting the world’s best men’s Alpine ski racers as they make their journey toward the 2022 Olympic Winter Games,” said Mike Imhof, president of the Vail Valley Foundation, which has been the local organizing committee for the Birds of Prey races in Beaver Creek since 1997. “Thanks to hard work, an amazing team, and a phenomenal man-made snowmaking system, plus a little cooperation from Mother Nature, we expect a sensational return to racing on this iconic course. We are grateful for the support of our partners at the FIS, U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Vail Resorts, U.S. Forest Service, the Beaver Creek Resort Company, Beaver Creek Resort, Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, and everyone on the snowmaking and course-building teams, including our amazing volunteers, to help get this course ready for training November 30 and racing December 3-5.”
Beaver Creek Resort’s snowmaking team has done an excellent job through warm temperatures during the early season, said Gary Shimanowitz, vice president of mountain operations at Beaver Creek Resort.
“The upper and mid-sections of the course are in great condition, and we are now setting our sights on the lower portion,” Shimanowitz said. “We are heading into a great weather window for snowmaking, and are excited to host Birds of Prey.”
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The FIS inspection was delayed by 48 hours to allow crews more time to create the ski racing track.
“It’s not too terribly uncommon to have that,” said Tom Boyd, the director of communciations for the Vail Valley Foundation. “This year we had a really good early start, and that took a lot of pressure off, so I was never too concerned, but at the same time, it could have been a little colder.”
Warm weather is being cited as the cause for a delayed opening of the public ski terrain at Beaver Creek, said Vail Resorts spokeswoman Rachel Levitsky. The resort still plans to host its World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie competition on Wednesday but hasn’t announced an Opening Day.
“Due to recent warm temperatures, we are delaying our Opening Day until we are able to finish making snow at the lowest elevations on the mountain,” Levitsky said. “We are keeping our eyes on the forecast and will issue an update on our new target opening day soon.”
Nearby Copper Mountain plans to open to the public Monday with beginner and intermediate terrain, along with a terrain park, accessed via four lifts out of Copper’s Center Village.
Copper has been a hub of ski racing activity in recent weeks, with the North America Cup kicking off its season there for giant slalom and slalom racers. The North America Cup is a feeder into the World Cup, which began Oct. 23 in Soelden, Austria, with giant slalom racing. Giant slalom, slalom and parallel slalom — disciplines known as technical skiing — make up half of Alpine ski racing. The other is known as speed and contains the events which will be featured at Beaver Creek this season in downhill and super-G.
While Beaver Creek often hosts the men’s tech skiers, as well, for a giant slalom race, this year the tech and speed events are being kept separate to reduce the chances of COVID-19 spreading among the different cohort groups of Alpine ski racing.
The World Cup ski racing season for the men’s speed disciplines will begin this week in Canada at the Lake Louise World Cup, with downhill races scheduled for Friday and Saturday and a super-G race scheduled for Sunday. The event will give ski racing fans a preview of whom they will see in Beaver Creek the following week.