Clock to 2015 Championships ticking faster
EAGLE COUNTY — The clock is ticking faster toward the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships. That means the work is getting ever more caffeinated at the Vail Valley Foundation, the organizing group for the event.
At a recent Vail Town Council meeting, Ceil Folz, the always-caffeinated president of the foundation, provided an update about the work done so far, and the work that still needs to be done.
One of the biggest items is the TV package.
In this country, NBC has committed to between 20 and 26 hours of race coverage on its broadcast and cable outlets. That’s a good amount for ski racing coverage in this country, but it pales in comparison of the TV package for Europe and the rest of the world — 90 hours during the two weeks of the World Championships. The total TV audience is expected to exceed 800 million people.
While the bulk of the TV audience will be in other countries, Folz said she’s excited about the fact that some of the biggest stars in skiing today are Americans, including Ted Ligety, Julia Mancuso and, of course, the valley’s own Mikaela Schiffrin.
Since she was in Vail for this presentation, Folz focused on the Championships’ impact there, given that virtually all of the racing will be in Beaver Creek — and that Vail contributed more than $2 million to the effort.
While Beaver Creek gets the races, Vail will host the opening and closing ceremonies, award ceremonies and concerts. The town will also host most of the participating nations’ “hospitality houses.” Solaris plaza will have a giant screen for people to watch the races there. Many of the athletes, trainers and coaches will stay in Vail, too, simply because more lodging is available.
A lot of Vail’s contribution to the events will end up on TV, Folz said. There will be Vail-focused features besides the racing, and Folz said the opening segments on all broadcasts will include video of Vail Mountain.
Between lodging and guests, there’s an estimated $95 million in total spending from more than 41,000 athletes, media types, sponsors and visitors.
Just TV and hospitality is a lot of work, but there’s a lot more involved in putting the events together, from big items to seemingly small ones.
A small item is having an official artist, in this case, local painter Carrie Fell. Having a chef coordinate a culinary challenge may not seem like a big deal, but there’s going to be one. And the celebrity chef pulling this event together is Wolfgang Puck, who has one of his Spago restaurants at The Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch.
The big-ticket items left to finish include raising the roughly $53 million needed to put on the event. About 90 percent has been raised so far, and Folz said she expected the rest to be in hand by September.
Another of the big items is also well on its way to being ready. The Vail Valley Foundation will need about 2,200 volunteers — each of whom have to commit to providing 60 hours of work. In an email, volunteer coordinator Elle Kehoe wrote that the Vail Valley Foundation has 1,800 applications in hand, although not every one of those will be accepted. Still, people seem to be turning out in force when the foundation has recruiting events. Kehoe wrote that roughly 100 people turned out to each of the past two events in Avon.
People are still needed for the race crews, she wrote. The team also needs drivers and people to set up and tear down the various tents, grandstands and other public areas.
Longtime Vail Valley Foundation volunteer Mary Ann Armour said some of the smaller groups — such as the hospitality tents — are either filled up or filling fast.
“Everybody says ‘I want to be in the hospitality tent’ — well, everybody does,” Armour said.
The biggest need is people to work on the course. The biggest crew, though, is going to need some specific skills — people need to be pretty good skiers and willing to spend most of the day outside, no matter the weather.
Everybody who volunteers for the World Championships will get a package that includes a full outfit. Armour said she expects the jackets in particular to be popular items.
“When everybody in town is wearing a jacket in December, people are going to want one,” Armour said. “But by then, it’ll be too late — so volunteer now!”