No one leaves empty-handed |

No one leaves empty-handed

NWS Swag PU 11-30-06

BEAVER CREEK – Swag is as much a part of the Birds of Prey World Cup event as Spandex leggings or Hermann Maier fan club members. It comes in many forms – a jacket or a hat, a cowbell or a cough drop, a maraca or a pocketknife.Swag, according to some, is an acronym for “stuff we all get.” At the Birds of Prey, it’s not always that egalitarian. It often depends which “we” you are a part of. If you’re a volunteer, for instance, you get the coveted ski coat with the Birds of Prey logo. This year it’s blue. Edwards resident Rich Wahl, who volunteers at the Birds of Prey each year, said he’s probably accumulated enough Birds of Prey swag to clothe him for a week.”At least,” he said. “Maybe a month – with different stuff every day.”On Thursday, he was wearing his volunteer coat from 1999. It’s especially warm, he said.

If you’re a VIP – likely because you’re a sponsor of the event – you’ll get a gift bag that includes a sweater, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen and lip balm.Rob Shoaf was sporting the Salomon 1080 jacket that was part of last year’s VIP gift bag. Shoaf said wearing the Birds of Prey logo jacket gets you a measure of respect in a ski town like Steamboat Springs, where he lives.”In Steamboat, it’s a privilege to wear this kind of coat,” he said. “It’s a big deal to be associated with the World Cup and the U.S. Ski Team.”The recent strong showings at Beaver Creek by the American team adds to the recognition, he said.”Sometimes people walk up to you and say, ‘Oh, were you there? Did you see Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves?'” he said.

Tyler Wells of Avon, a Beaver Creek ski patroller, was wearing a Birds of Prey “Race Patrol” jacket that he got a couple of years ago for helping with the race. Swag is more important for volunteers, he said.”For those guys to get an extra little bit of recognition is great, I think,” he said.And if you’re a member of the press, you get a pocketknife, complete with the Birds of Prey logo.”Now there’s a scary thought – arming the press,” said John Dakin, chief of press for Vail Valley Foundation, the race organizer.If racers don’t win a medal, they can settle for Birds of Prey fleece jackets that athletes get as swag, Dakin said.”No matter what their involvement, people really like that attachment of having that thing with a logo showing they were part of an event that has cache in the skiing world,” Dakin said.

And there is also true swag, stuff everyone gets, no matter who they are.

As you walk up to the grandstand, Kelly Moon might try to give you some Ricola cough drops. This was a small yet popular form of swag Thursday morning at the Birds of Prey. Moon and her co-worker had already given out about 1,500 cough drops by noon, she said. The lozenges, made by Switzerland-based Ricola, were especially popular with some Swiss visitors.”The Swiss were like, ‘Oh, Ricola!'” she said.At the Bose booth, Jack McCandless was giving out Bose ski caps. Swag-grabbers were not required to listen to him talk about headphones, he said.”People don’t want pressure,” he said. “No pressure at the World Cup except for the ski racers,” said McCandless, who said Bose gave out 3,000 hats last year.

Or if you take a seat in the grandstands, a volunteer might hand you a small, blue, plastic maraca to wave in the seats. Edwards Elementary students were waving them frantically as racers crested the hill into view.”It’s nice for them to do this,” said Heidi Livran, a fourth-grader, who also got a granola bar and hot chocolate. She wasn’t sure what she was going to do with her maraca, though.”I’m going to put in my room somewhere,” she said. “I don’t know.” Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or Daily, Vail Colorado CO

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