Storm drops about a foot of snow on Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey course ahead of World Cup race weekend |

Storm drops about a foot of snow on Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey course ahead of World Cup race weekend

Members of the Vail Valley Foundation's Talon Crew were hard at work on Tuesday, shoveling, raking and getting the course back down to the hard deck.
Curtis Ghent/Talon Crew

While skiers and snowboarders were out enjoying the powder, the Vail Valley Foundation’s Talon Crew was hard at work on Tuesday morning clearing off the Birds of Prey Alpine ski race track at Beaver Creek.

The Birds of Prey World Cup races are scheduled to begin on Friday and while snow is never a bad thing at the ski area, there’s a common saying among the Talon Crew: “You don’t have to shovel sunshine.”

On Friday and Saturday, the Birds of Prey track is scheduled to host downhill races — the longest and most exciting of the World Cup disciplines, with skiers reaching speeds in excess of 70 mph. Given the high speeds and the danger, the course preparation requires mountains of work from volunteers.

About 120 Talon Crew members, working hand in hand with Beaver Creek crew and the race department at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, were out on the course on Tuesday morning working on the course as the snow was falling.

Beaver Creek reported 9 inches of fresh snow on Tuesday morning, canceling a World Cup training run that had been scheduled for the resort’s Birds of Prey downhill track. A crew of course workers toiled throughout the morning to clear the course for Wednesday’s training.
Curtis Ghent/Talon Crew

‘Back down to the hard deck’

The resort reported 9 inches of fresh snow at 5:32 a.m. on Tuesday morning, and more continued to fall after that.

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For the Talon Crew, working in falling snow, there comes a point where it makes more sense to use machine power instead human power.

“So we clean up what we can, and then get out of the way and let the cats do their thing and then we come back and it’s all hands on deck,” said Steve Prawdzik, the Talon Crew Coordinator, on Tuesday. “Everybody’s busy shoveling, raking and getting the course back down to the hard deck.”

About 120 volunteers turned out to help clear snow from Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey downhill track on Tuesday morning. Snow continued to fall as the crews worked.
Curtis Ghent/Talon Crew

While the storm caused the need for a lot of work on course, it was welcomed by skiers in Vail on Tuesday morning, who saw the crowd-favorite runs Riva Ridge, Prima and Gandy Dancer open for the first time on Tuesday.

The high snow totals were accompanied by windy conditions but a relatively tame atmosphere on the roads. Shutdowns of Interstate 70 were seldom throughout the storm, and those that did occur were short.

A winter storm warning for the area expired at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

The Vail Valley Foundation’s Talon Crew works to ensure the Birds of Prey course at Beaver Creek is ready for a day of World Cup training on Wednesday. Downhill competition is scheduled to start at 10:15 a.m. on Friday, with racing action continuing throughout the weekend.
Curtis Ghent/Talon Crew

Action on course

Coaches from nations around the world were scheduled to receive an update on course conditions at a coaches’ meeting scheduled for Tuesday night, but as of Tuesday afternoon, all indications pointed toward a full day of training to occur as scheduled on Wednesday.

At least one day of downhill training must occur at a World Cup site to hold a downhill race, according to International Ski Federation rules.

Two downhill races are scheduled for Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey World Cup venue this week, on Friday at 10:15 a.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. A super-G race is scheduled for Sunday at 10 a.m.

Ross Leonhart with the Vail Valley Foundation said crews were hard at work creating a festive atmosphere in Beaver Creek Village, which will convert its ice rink to a spectator viewing area for this year’s races.

Fans can watch for free from Red Tail Stadium; no word has been issued on if the stadium will be accessible on skis from the Red Tail run. Free transportation will be provided from Beaver Creek village throughout the duration of the event.

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