Vail Daily column: From the Caucasus to the Rockies
By the time you read this, I will be in Sochi for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. By the time I get back next week, the entire international alpine skiing community will have started to shift their focus from the Caucasus Mountains of Russia to the Vail Valley of Colorado for the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.
During the course of the past three plus years, we have always had another event “before us.” First, it was the World Championships in Garmisch, Germany, in 2011. Then it was last winter’s World Championships in Schladming, Austria, and now, it’s the Sochi Games. In another week, we will be “next.”
The Sochi Olympics will provide us with an opportunity to follow and cheer on the record 11 Vail Valley athletes that are representing our community at the Olympic Games. We will pull for our U.S. Ski Team stars — Bode, Ted and Julia — and we will scream at the top of our lungs when Mikaela steps into the start gate.
We will also be introduced to athletes we have never heard of, some of them with names we can’t pronounce. Many of them will have wonderful stories of overcoming adversity just to be able to compete, while others know full well that their gold medal comes with marching in opening ceremonies with their teammates.
Attention turns to Vail Valley
The beauty of all of this is that we get to experience the same scenario next year. We will have some 700 athletes from more than 70 nations represented in Vail and Beaver Creek for the 2015 World Championships. In essence, if you took all of the alpine events and athletes out of Rosa Khutor and dropped them in the Vail Valley, that’s what we will have in 2015.
We will have the stars of the sport that we have come to know through our annual World Cup events, but we will also have athletes from India and Iran, Macedonia and San Marino. And we will welcome each and every one of them to our homes with open arms.
Pete and Earl
Two weeks ago, we celebrated our one-year countdown party. We introduced Pete and Earl, the two World Championships mascots who will serve as our ambassadors of fun for the coming year and the two weeks of the World Championships.
While Pete and Earl obviously represent the lighter side of the 2015 World Championships, they also pay tribute to Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton, the two friends and visionaries that turned the dream of building the perfect ski mountain into the reality that is now Vail and Beaver Creek.
By selecting to name our mascots Pete and Earl, we chose to honor the real Pete and Earl for their ingenuity, their dedication, their perseverance and their incredible dedication to a dream. That dream is just as alive today as it was in that first season, continued every day by everyone who has chosen to live and work here and calls the Vail Valley our home.
In essence, Pete and Earl represent all of us. They will share their love of the mountains and bring to life the fun and excitement of the races. They will share our community’s sense of hospitality with everyone that comes from near and far to Vail and Beaver Creek for the 2015 World Championships.
So, as you watch the Sochi Games and cheer for your favorite athletes and nations, I hope you will also feel an extra sense of anticipation and excitement for what is to come Feb. 2-15, 2015, as Pete, Earl and all of us welcome the world to Vail and Beaver Creek.
Ceil Folz is president of the Vail Valley Foundation and president of the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships Organizing Committee. The 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships are scheduled for Feb. 2-15, 2015.