‘Raptor’ downhill course at Beaver Creek gains World Cup ski reputation | VailDaily.com

‘Raptor’ downhill course at Beaver Creek gains World Cup ski reputation

John Meyer
The Denver Post

BEAVER CREEK — Since it debuted in December 1997, the “Birds of Prey” men’s downhill course here has been acclaimed as one of the most technically demanding tracks in the world. Based on first impressions, its sister course appears destined for the same sort of reputation.

On Tuesday the world’s best women downhillers — minus injured Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn — got their first chance to train on the “Raptor” course built adjacent to the men’s course for women’s races at the 2015 world championships. Top speeds exceeded 75 mph, and racers found it challenging technically and mentally.

“It’s really hard,” American Stacey Cook said after the first official training run for a race scheduled for Friday. “It’s relentless, it just keeps coming at you. Normally you’ll have a hard section and you’ll get a little break to recuperate. This one, it’s challenging for the brain. You have to keep thinking the entire way down.”

Normally the women race giant slalom and slalom in Aspen on Thanksgiving weekend, and the first women’s downhill of the year comes the following week at Lake Louise, Alberta, on a course without much technical difficulty. This year they’re here instead of Aspen so they can learn what to expect when world championships medals are at stake in February 2015.

“It’s really technical, and you have to be brave,” said American Julia Mancuso, who claimed two silver medals at the 2010 Olympics and gold in 2006.

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