Championships ignite passion for ski racing in Vail |

Championships ignite passion for ski racing in Vail

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail Daily file photo Will Gregorak, now part of the U.S. Ski Team, is one of the Vail Ski and Snowboard Club racers who hopes to compete in the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championshops in Vail and Beaver Creek

VAIL – Hosting the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships means more than just international recognition and an economic boost for Vail – it’s an event that can spark a fire in local skiers and inspire them to keep racing.

Aldo Ramarus, executive director of Ski Snowboard Club Vail, said that’s exactly what happened for 2010 Olympic skiing gold medalist Lindsey Vonn when she volunteered at the 1999 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail.

The event sparked a fire in her that helped jump-start her ski racing career, Ramarus said, and he expects the event to do the same for other young ski racers watching closely in 2015.

“It’s a great opportunity for our kids to really ignite their passion for the sport,” Radamus said. “Undoubtedly there will be some young aspiring skiers on the sidelines inspired in the same way (Vonn was inspired).”

He said it’s a huge honor for the Ski Club to not only get to watch the event at home in Vail, but to be a part of it – he expects to see at least two Ski Club members competing in 2015.

“This is one of the major showcases in sports,” Ramarus said. “It’s the Olympics for ski racing.”

Skier Abby Ghent, who’s going into her senior year at the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, hopes to be racing in the 2015 championships and Ramarus said she has a real shot at it. Ghent, 17, said the fact that her hometown is going to be the host gives her even more motivation to qualify in 2015.

“It’s really cool,” Ghent said. “It will be home-hill advantage if I end up going.”

Ghent was born in Vail and lives in Edwards. She can’t get enough of ski racing, even during the times she doesn’t do as well as she would like.

“Those moments when you’re not doing well are nothing compared to the moments when you are,” Ghent said. “It’s super rewarding.”

Another Ski Club member, Will Gregorak, said he was thrilled to hear the news Thursday about Vail and Beaver Creek winning the 2015 bid. Gregorak, 19, was a member of the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy’s first graduating class and now travels and trains as a member of the U.S. Ski Team.

“It will be a goal for me to compete (in the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships),” Gregorak said. “Hopefully I’ll be at the level – it would be really special to have my family there to be able to watch it.”

Radamus said he’s excited to showcase local ski racers in 2015, as well as the entire valley. The world will be focused on Vail and Beaver Creek, he said.

Ghent knows what an honor it is for Vail, and hopes to take on the honor as a competitor, too.

“I don’t think the locals realize how big of a deal it actually is,” Ghent said. “The Birds of Prey (World Cup race) is a big deal for people, but having the World Championships – it’s the whole thing, not just the men’s event. It’ll definitely be motivation to continue to work hard.”

For Vail pioneers like Pepi and Sheika Gramshammer, who have helped Vail grow into a world-class ski resort, no amount of work was too much to get Vail a chance to host its third World Alpine Ski Championships.

The announcement that Vail won its bid for the 2015 Championships came around 10:20 a.m. local time Thursday, as the Gramshammers celebrated in Antalya, Turkey, with other board members and executives from the Vail Valley Foundation and Vail Resorts.

“We won! I am so excited, oh my god, there are no words for it,” Sheika Gramshammer said.

The Vail Valley Foundation had tried to win another World Championships bid for Vail and Beaver Creek twice since the 1999 Championships without success. Sheika Gramshammer said every time they tried, they would put a little more effort into it.

This year, they gave it everything they had, she said.

“That’s what made the difference,” Gramshammer said.

Vail native and Vail Town Councilwoman Kerry Donovan was watching the International Ski Federation’s live feed on its website awaiting the announcement. She was overjoyed when she saw that Vail and Beaver Creek won.

“It’s so cool to host them for the third time,” Donovan said. “What a compliment to the town and to the legacy of Vail that the world wants to continue to come back here.”

She said that with the Billion Dollar Renewal coming to an end, Vail is ready to host a world-class event like the World Championships.

“It’s a spectacular achievement,” Donovan said.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

Support Local Journalism