Vail Daily column: World Cup races serve as dress rehearsals |

Vail Daily column: World Cup races serve as dress rehearsals

Dress rehearsals are essential on Broadway, and sound checks are a must for most bands. The 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships will have its own version of a dress rehearsal later this month as both ladies’ and men’s World Cup tours roll into town for two weeks of racing in Beaver Creek.

Dubbed the 2013 Beaver Creek FIS World Cup weeks, the competitions will include downhill, super-G and giant slalom for the ladies, Nov. 29-Dec. 1, with the Nature Valley Raptor, and Dec. 6-8 for men’s super-G, downhill and giant slalom, as part of the annual Audi Birds of Prey.

In addition to having the opportunity to test a portion of the new ladies’ Raptor racecourse, the two weeks will be both a valuable test of some of the operational and logistical procedures that will be utilized in 2015, but also a tremendous preview of what the championships will be like for race fans, especially with the Sochi Olympics on the horizon.

From a fan’s perspective, there will be numerous stories to follow for both the ladies and men. With Lindsey Vonn’s decision not to start in Soelden, Austria last month, Beaver Creek will mark her return to racing, following her season-ending crash at the World Championships in Schladming, Austria in February.

Mikaela Shiffrin will also have her first opportunity to race at home after serving as a forerunner for the men’s giant slalom the past two seasons. Many who saw her runs in Soelden agreed that she was the strongest skier on the hill that day, and it will be great to see her in Beaver Creek … on a course she knows well.

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And then there’s the U.S. ladies’ speed team. Stacey Cook, Leanne Smith and Laurenne Ross, along with Shiffrin, are the only World Cup women who have ever been on Raptor, courtesy of a testing camp last April. How much of a leg up will that experience provide for a group in which all visited the podium last winter?

Ligety dominates GS, Bode’s back

For the men, Mr. GS, Ted Ligety, will have the opportunity to become the first man to win four consecutive times in Beaver Creek. With three straight wins in giant slalom, Ted is tied with teammate Bode Miller for consecutive victories. The good news is that the world has seemingly not closed the gap all that much on Ted in GS, as evidenced by his victory in Soelden.

And speaking of Mr. Miller, he will be back as well, after taking the last year and a half off to heal from the micro-fracture surgery on his knee. He returned to competition in Soelden, and while his 19th place GS finish did not sit well with him, never count Bode out, especially at Beaver Creek.

Other 2015 related items that will make their debut will include the new Talons Restaurant, which will serve as the media center for both World Cups and World Championships. The 18,000 square foot Talons was constructed this past summer and will seat 500 people inside and another 250 on the deck. During these World Cup weeks, the lower level will be open to the public so everyone can get their first look at Talons.

We will also be holding the men’s giant slalom bib presentation and celebration in Vail at Solaris Plaza on Saturday, Dec. 7. Solaris will serve as the official medals plaza in 2015, and this will be a good test of that venue. We hope everyone will turn out to see Ted and the rest of the men’s World Cup stars.

On behalf of the 2015 Organizing Committee, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has worked so hard to prepare for these extremely important test events, as well as those of you who will unselfishly give of your time and talents during the two weeks of racing as volunteers. We couldn’t do this without all of you, and please know that your efforts are very much appreciated.

We hope to see you all at the races. The road to Sochi runs through Beaver Creek.

Ceil Folz is president of the Vail Valley Foundation and president of the 2015 World Championships Organizing Committee. The 2015 World Championships are scheduled for Feb. 2-15, 2015.

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