Three ways to watch this year’s Birds of Prey races: Grandstands, VIP and Club | VailDaily.com

Three ways to watch this year’s Birds of Prey races: Grandstands, VIP and Club

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com
The club level at this weekend's Birds of Prey World Cup will offer an elevated viewing experience, inspired by some of the options available at the Audi 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, pictured here.
Logan Robertson | Special to the Daily |

If you go ...

Grandstands: Free admission, with food and drink for sale

EverBank Finish Line VIP: Special food and drink served on the top deck of Talons, with an attached outdoor viewing deck. This tier is sold out.

EverBank Finish Line Club: Guaranteed seating in the special club tent offers finish-line views, special food buffets and full bar. Cost is $500 on Friday, Dec. 4, for the downhill; $400 on Saturday, Dec. 5, for the super-G and $300 on Sunday, Dec. 6, for the giant slalom.

Tickets: Purchase at www.bcworldcup.com.

There’s more than one way to enjoy the Birds of Prey World Cup ski races this weekend — there are three, in fact.

Historically, the World Cup races at Beaver Creek have been an intimate and festive affair, with fans bundling up and piling onto metal grandstands to watch the action. Sponsors, family and other well-connected fans had access to a VIP tent, where finger food and drinks were served, right up against the racer’s corral.

This year, organizers decided to offer an additional choice for those seeking a high-brow experience and make all spectating options available to any fan willing to buy a ticket. (That is, with the exception of the grandstands, which remain free and open to the public.) Now, you can watch the races either from the traditional stands, in a casual party atmosphere at Talons as part of the VIP experience or from the upscale, indoor viewing tent as part of the Club level. With each tier of viewing, there’s also food and drinks to match the experience.

“It’s a whole new way of doing the World Cup, and it’s a whole new concept of what hospitality means at Birds of Prey,” said Tom Boyd, press officer for the race events. “With the 2015 Alpine World Skiing Championships, we realized that World Cup skiing is really popular. NBC is going all out with their coverage this year. This whole valley has supported World Cup skiing for decades. It’s a big deal here, so we’re offering several tiered opportunities to experience it.”

Grandstands and VIP — race fanfare

The grandstands will be bigger than ever to accommodate more fans, and now you can enjoy a beer while waving your homemade “Ligety’s No. 1” sign. Hawkers will be selling drinks, barbecue and more from Talons Restaurant in the stands throughout the races.

Boyd compared this year’s atmosphere to what you’d experience at a Denver Broncos game — gameday foods brought right to your aisle. As usual, the grandstand and course-side areas are free and first-come, first-served.

Chef Cindy Crosbie is at the helm of Talons Restaurant, which will also be providing food for the VIP level, and the New Orleans native brings a combination of Cajun tradition and mountain comfort to her menus. As with the fans at the races, she appreciates the fanfare on the mountain. In fact, she originally came to Colorado to ski and has worked in other restaurants at Beaver Creek and in Aspen before landing at the Talons.

At the VIP level, located in the top floor of Talons, guests will enjoy a casual atmosphere with beverage service, gourmet breakfast and lunch buffet stations and open seating. Attendees will still have a chance to get an up-close view of the action on the outdoor deck, which is located to the skier’s left of the finish corral. The VIP area has proved to be a popular viewing option, as tickets are already sold out.

Club — a slopeside soiree

Prefer to watch the races with a martini and gourmet entree in hand? Join the Club-level attendees, who will have guaranteed seating in a large tent structure located right in front of the finish area. The wall facing the finish line is all glass, meaning you’ll be warm and cozy while getting an unobstructed view of the skiers roaring to the finish. Tickets range from $300 to $500, depending on the day, and are still available for purchase.

No race party is complete without food, so attendees at the Club level will dine on specially created cuisine from two Beaver Creek chefs — Bill Greenwood, of Beano’s Cabin, and Tim McCaw, of Zach’s Cabin. Greenwood’s Beano’s Cabin is home to one of the most sought-after dinners in the Vail Valley, and the Atlanta native has practically grown up in restaurants and around the farm-to-table movement. He’ll also be working with McCaw, another Beaver Creek culinary veteran. McCaw is in his 13th year as executive chef of Zach’s Cabin and fifth year at Red Sky Ranch Golf Club. He’s known for taking first place on the Sonoma versus Mountain Iron Chef competition.

So what happens when two acclaimed chefs team up for a unique event? It’s a chance to come up with a menu that will wow the 300 to 350 guests expected daily in the Club area, said McCaw.

“We’ve come up with some great, comfort-food items, but that also have some flair and wow factor,” he said. “Bill and I have worked together before, so we sit down to come up with a menu, and because it’s a less high volume event, we have a little more room to play and pay close attention to detail. It’s a whole new event and a fresh, new challenge for us.”

A morning at the Club level will start with an upscale continental breakfast with items such as scrambled eggs with roasted vegetables and goat cheese. Lunch follows right after, with stations offering made-to-order burgers, antipasti with Colorado cheese, gourmet salads, homemade bread, whiskey-glazed pork loin and Skuna Bay salmon.

The plentiful spread helps encourage attendees to come earlier and stick around to enjoy the festivities.

“People are certainly more apt to stay around,” McCaw said. “It depends on the day. If an American wins, of course everyone will want to stay and celebrate.”

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at mwong@vaildaily.com. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.