Birds of Prey downhill training postponed a day | VailDaily.com

Birds of Prey downhill training postponed a day

BEAVER CREEK — The International Ski Federation (FIS) called off FIS Birds of Prey downhill training at Beaver Creek scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 28, on the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 27.

Birds of Prey's first downhill training is now set for Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 10 a.m.

"The Birds Eye View," an email chain sent to media members covering the event, cited the fact that "more snow is expected" in the forecast, as the reason. While predicting the weather is more art than a science, weather.com has no snow in the forecast.

FIS weighs in

That said, Markus Waldner, chief race director for the men's World Cup tour inspected the course on Monday and issued the following statement:

"I got a first-hand look at the course today and Beaver Creek, the (Talon) Crew have done an excellent job getting everything ready. The conditions on the course are ideal, with hard and compact snow and the weather forecast is looking good. We're looking forward to a great week of training and a weekend of racing."

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According to FIS rules, there must be one day of downhill training at a World Cup site to hold a downhill race — Birds of Prey's is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 2. Since the downhill is the marquee event of any weekend of speed events, getting in a training run in is a priority for Wednesday or Thursday, Nov. 30.

Tom Boyd, the director of communications for the Vail Valley Foundation and the chief of press for Birds of Prey, said that the trainings and races are on schedule.

"I think it's going to proceed as a normal year with two trainings, a super-G, downhill and (giant slalom)," Boyd said. "It's hard to communicate how the course is in phenomenal shape. You really have to see it to believe it. When the photos come down of training, people will realize how the course is."

Course already built

Coming off last year when the Birds of Prey races were canceled because of warm temperatures, a limited opening to both Vail and Beaver Creek for recreational skiing and a warm day on Monday, one can understand why all involved are worried about the perception that the races might be in danger again.

"(Other people) are thinking snow," Boyd said. "We're thinking temperatures."

Ski-racing snow is different than recreational snow. The World Cup tour races on icy, man-made snow. As Boyd said, sites such as Beaver Creek need lower temperatures to make snow and work on the course. The forecast is favorable on those counts with nighttime lows in the 20s and teens this week.

"World Cup ski racing is about man-made snow," Boyd said. "The course has been worked on for weeks and is fully built. We're just fine-tuning it."

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.