Birds of Prey soaring to new heights | VailDaily.com

Birds of Prey soaring to new heights

2015 BIRDS OF PREY SCHEDULE

Schedule of events

Tuesday, Dec. 1:

• Ticket pickup, registration and event HQ open at Hyatt in Beaver Creek 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

• Audi Birds of Prey DH training 1 at Beaver Creek

Wednesday, Dec. 2:

• Ticket pickup, registration and event HQ open at Hyatt in Beaver Creek 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

• Audi Birds of Prey DH training 2 at Beaver Creek

Thursday, Dec. 3:

• Ticket pickup, registration and event HQ open at Hyatt in Beaver Creek 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

• Audi Birds of Prey DH training 3 at Beaver Creek

• Audi Birds of Prey Way opens 4:30 p.m.

• EverBank America’s Winter Opening welcome party in Beaver Creek Village

Friday, Dec. 4:

• Ticket pickup, registration and event HQ open at Hyatt in Beaver Creek 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

• VIP + Club open 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

• Audi Birds of Prey DH race day at Beaver Creek

• Birds Of Prey Way festivities in Beaver Creek Village

• Black Diamond Ball at The Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch (Tickets Available)

• Movie: “Streif, One Hell of a Ride” at Vilar Performing Arts Center $10, 7 p.m.

• Fireworks in Beaver Creek Village

Saturday, Dec. 5:

• Ticket pickup, registration and event HQ open at Hyatt in Beaver Creek 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

• VIP + Club open 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

• Audi Birds of Prey Super G race day

• Birds of Prey Way festivities in Beaver Creek Village

• Movie: “Streif, One Hell of a Ride” at Vilar Performing Arts Center $10, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

• Fireworks in Beaver Creek Village

Sunday, Dec 6:

• Ticket pickup, registration and event HQ open at Hyatt in Beaver Creek 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

• VIP + Club open 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

• Audi Birds of Prey GS race day

• Birds of Prey Way festivities in Beaver Creek Village

*All events and event schedules are subject to change.

BEAVER CREEK — Here in Eagle County, nothing says “winter is here” like the Audi Birds of Prey World Cup. But could that event do more to kick off winter?

Absolutely, say organizers, and over the next few years, the kickoff to winter at Birds of Prey is going to be like the kickoff to summer at the GoPro Mountain Games — a telegraph to all that the season is here.

“Of course, Birds of Prey is very different than Mountain Games, but it’s that ushering in of the message — that the new season has arrived in Colorado, in the Rockies and in America — that we want to duplicate,” said Michael Imhof, acting CEO of the Vail Valley Foundation. “Around it is an evolved celebration of skiing, ski racing, mountain sports and the mountain lifestyle.”

The Birds of Prey World Cup races is something the Vail Valley Foundation is quite proud of, and for good reason. The race course itself has earned the handle North America’s Downhill and is a favorite venue among athletes and fans alike. But once those races are over, what’s next? It’s a question organizers started pondering before the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships came to town. That event pushed the question to the forefront of everyone’s mind.

“There’s nothing broken with Birds of Prey — we just want to take it from where it’s been, and put some more bells and whistles around it to create that bigger, better Birds of Prey,” Imhof said.

BELLS AND WHISTLES

In the effort to bring a more evolved Birds of Prey to the world, an evolution will continue to take place. Operating under the title of EverBank America’s Winter Opening, the first incarnation of the festival will include larger grandstands, VIP tickets available to the public for purchase, live music, movie showings, exhibitions along Birds of Prey Way in Beaver Creek Village, prizes, giveaways and more.

The future of the festival, however, will evolve even further to capture Vail and the atmosphere of the American Ski Classic, which was retired in 2014.

“A couple of things we really liked about (the American Ski Classic) were the legends race and the International Ski Hall of Fame ceremony,” said Imhof. “So in 2016 and beyond, we’re looking at having a legends race on the dual competition course at Golden Peak, with beer and concessions and live music, as well as an International Ski Hall of Fame event.”

‘WE BELIEVE IN IT’

While the idea to expand the Birds of Prey into something bigger was floating around before last season, the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships moved it from a “this could happen” to a “this should happen.”

U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association president Tiger Shaw said the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships brought in a huge wave of enthusiasm and passion for ski racing through the festive atmosphere that surrounded the celebration of the team’s top athletes.

“Beaver Creek has provided a remarkable setting for our U.S. Ski Team athletes to achieve success including Steven Nyman’s downhill podium last December and Ted Ligety’s string of five straight giant slalom wins,” he said.

After the championships, Beaver Creek CEO Doug Lovell said the support and excitement surrounding ski racing in the Rockies is tremendous.

“Together with our partners and sponsors, we envision EverBank America’s Winter Opening and the Audi Birds of Prey World Cup as events that, taken together, can build into a valley-wide party that can electrify the alpine world,” Lovell said.

EverBank is also thinking about how it could expand its involvement, even before the World Championships came to town. Their partnership with the Vail Valley Foundation started during the run up to the 2014 Audi Birds of Prey.

“These events really allowed us to connect with our clients in a one-of-a-kind setting,” said Tom Wind, EverBank’s executive vice president for home lending. “Now we’re excited to extend our sponsorship for an additional two years and to be the presenting sponsor of the EverBank America’s Winter Opening.”

In the coming weeks, the Vail Valley Foundation plans to release more details about music acts, movie showings and other festivities surrounding the EverBank America’s Winter Opening.

“It may take a couple years to get everything where we want it, but we believe in it for the long term,” Imhof said.

This year’s Audi Birds of Prey World Cup is scheduled for Dec. 1-6. For more information, please visit http://www.vvf.org.