Welcoming the world
World Championships by the numbers
Days: 14 days; Feb. 2-15
Countries attending: 70 plus
Members of the media: 2,000
Venues in Vail and Beaver Creek: 3
TV viewers: 750 million, mainly in Europe
Room nights booked so far: 20,000
Source: Vail Valley Foundation
VAIL — Only 23 cities in the world have ever hosted the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, and only one has hosted more than once.
That would be us, and this is our third. Those of us old enough to remember a world where Twitter was a sound that birds made remember the world coming to visit in 1989 and 1999. The 1950 World Championships were in Aspen, mostly because Europe was still too bombed out from World War II. So the 2015 races are only the fourth Championships ever held in the United States, all of them in Colorado.
Actually, the world comes to visit all the time. Once in a while, they all come at once.
“That’s because of the experience people have when they’re here,” said Ceil Folz, of the Vail Valley Foundation.
Val d’Isere, France, had the World Championships a couple years ago, and while the competition was fine, the community didn’t act like it really wanted it, according to lots of people who were there.
That’s certainly not the case here. We love it when company comes.
“Be nice, be warm, be friendly,” Folz said. “That’s how people tend to think about Americans. People leave here and they say, ‘People were so nice to me.’” That’s the lasting memory they have.”
Avon Police Chief Bob Ticer calls the World Championships “The Super Bowl of Europe.”
During its two-week run, it’s projected to draw a television audience approaching 1 billion viewers. Those people will be looking at us, so try to smile.
“People will have an impression that might be based on a conversation with a police officer, something as simple as ‘Where’s the restroom?’” Ticer said.
The 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships will be the second largest event Colorado has ever hosted, behind only the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver, said Homeland Security’s Joe O’Keefe.
“We’ve done this before; we manage big events all the time,” Henninger said.
However, those big events usually last four or five days. The challenge is whether we have the ability to sustain a smile after 14 days, Henninger said.
“The balance is to present a high quality and safe event.”
A few suggestions
A panel of local law enforcement and hotel executives had a few suggestions.
Cannabis dos and don’ts: Marijuana is legal in Colorado, which is fascinating to people who don’t actually live here, sort of the same way New York cab drivers with unintelligible accents are fascinating to people who don’t live in New York.
However, Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger reminds visitors and locals alike that Vail is a no-smoking town, so don’t smoke it there. Marijuana is also still illegal federally, so try not to smoke it on Vail Mountain either.
“If you see a guest lighting up, quietly try to explain that,” Henninger said.
You don’t need to go apoplectic; a quiet word should do it.
Open containers: People from other parts of the world are accustomed to wandering around their communities while sipping a dignified libation. That sort of thing tends to be frowned upon around here.
However, do not frown.
Smile and quietly explain to them the local regulations. From there, they’ll do what they want.
Parking and transit: The organizers will have at least 50 buses running to get people to various venues and events.
The choke point is likely to be the Beaver Creek bus drop off. The best thing you can do is arrive early, be patient and encourage others to do the same. You’ll get there.
“Parking is tight here, and it’s going to be worse in Beaver Creek. It’s incumbent to make sure people know how to get around,” Ticer said.
“To host such an event is not only a great honor for our community and our state but a great opportunity to the rally the nation around the sport of skiing, engage the next generation in the sport and build upon the successes of the past toward greater glory in the future,” said the Vail Valley Foundation.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.