Ceil Folz: ‘We think it’s going to be great’

Ceil Folz, center, is flanked by U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Tiger Shaw, left, and FIS President Gian Franco Kasper during a press conference to kick off the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships. Folz is president of the Vail Valley Foundation and chairs the World Championships organizing committee.
Randy Wyrick| |

BEAVER CREEK — Ceil Folz grinned the grin of the well prepared Monday afternoon.

“It feels like our countdown clocks just burned up,” Folz said.

Folz is president of the Vail Valley Foundation and head of the World Championships organizing committee. The journey that began in June 2010 is done.

“We’re proud to have the world come to our home,” Folz said.

The world visits us all the time, just not all at once. Still, we love it when company comes.

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Those of us old enough to know that tweet is the sound a bird makes will recall that we’ve twice hosted the Alpine World Ski Championships.

“In 1989 and 1999 we held very successful ski races. Our race crews are the best in the world, so it may seem unusual but the thing we feel least anxious about is our ski racing,” Folz said. “The goal is to do more than ski racing, to concentrate more on the guest experience.”

“We’re looking forward to the other things. It has been a big job to coordinate, and we think it’s going to be great,” Folz said.

Global perspective

Folz was part of a panel that included FIS President Gian Franco Kasper; Tiger Shaw, president and CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association; and Sara Lewis, FIS secretary general.

U.S. alpine legend Bode Miller called this year’s U.S. team a “powerhouse,” akin to the great Austrian teams.

“We feel like the podium is ours,” Miller said.

Shaw did not flinch much when Miller said it.

“The expectations are high,” Shaw said. “We come into these World Championships more prepared than almost any other time in history. We come into this hoping to do better than I expect, and as well as I hope,” Shaw said.

There’s no place like home

“Not only is this an opportunity for our athletes to compete at home, we come into this with one of our strongest teams ever,” Shaw said.

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s development program is one of its biggest improvements.

“We hope that makes a difference in our pipeline,” Shaw said. “Kids coming in the following days may have a moment of inspiration and want to be like that.”

Kasper said he is hoping for a bump not only in U.S. skiing, but also internationally.

He recalled the 1989 World Championships when recreational skiers lined up for a lift at the bottom of Vail Mountain. Many watched the races, but some did not.

“You already did a good job in 1989 and 1999,” Kasper said. “Look how far we have come.”

The world is watching

In all, 26 broadcasters from 24 countries will provide 25 hours of programming, including prime time in Europe, coordinated by the European Broadcast Union.

Among the goals is to expand ski racing in the United States.

“The focus has been on the global message to have a great World Championships, not only in Vail and Beaver Creek, but also in Colorado, the U.S. and globally,” Lewis said. “We’re now reaching out to the world in prime time.”

There are 124 million TV homes in the U.S., and 8 million people in Austria. These World Championships will be carried live by NBC on weekends, and by the NBC Sports Network during the week.

Some new technology will help put the television audience right in the racers’ pockets.

“We couldn’t be more proud to be part of this groundbreaking effort,” Folz said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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