World Championships cheerleaders portray the best of America the Beautiful
BEAVER CREEK — There are two kinds of people: Those who like cheerleaders, and cheerleaders.
The 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships boasts the first-ever slopeside cheerleading crew … because this is America and as we’ve scientifically established, we like cheerleaders.
The cheerleaders are part of the Vail Valley Foundation’s World Championships vision — all things American. OK, most things American.
It’s by design that we’re also enjoying brass bands and some country music from the country that invented country music, rock ‘n’ roll and the V-8 engine.
Never have the stars and stripes waved so beautifully.
“The fans bring so much energy, and we can feed off each other,” said cheerleader Dee Liang.
Vail Valley Foundation President Ceil Folz was a high school cheerleader, which speaks well of her.
“From the beginning, we really felt that we had this great opportunity to show the world how America celebrates major sports,” Folz said.
They looked at professional sports events, especially the NFL and NBA, figuring out what makes them so much fun.
Marguerite and Max Arbez are from Ireland with their two kids, Irish racers Tess and Maxime, who are trying to qualify for next week’s events. The Arbez parents spend a lot of time in grandstands watching ski racing and say they like the way Americans put on a show.
“There is so much going on, even before the races,” Marguerite said.
As the stands fill, the cheerleaders lead the crowd of thousands in the Dance of the Day.
Friday’s had something to do with spiders.
“You haven’t lived until you’ve danced a spider dance with 10 professional cheerleaders,” said cheerleader Ellen Bator.
Professional crowd pleasers
Friday’s crowd topped 7,000 in Beaver Creek’s Redtail Stadium and millions more on television in the U.S. and Europe, where the races are broadcast live in prime time.
The cheerleaders arrive early and move around the crowd, dispensing goodwill and positive energy, and so everybody gets to see every body.
They’re all professional cheerleaders and dancers with professional sports teams and dance troupes: the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Carolina Panthers, the New York Knicks, the Colorado Mammoth professional lacrosse team, Princess Cruise Lines … the list is long and impressive.
They’re mostly college graduates, most with honors.
They get all kinds of questions, mostly polite.
“Are you cheerleaders?” people ask with amazing regularity.
Yes, yes they are, they patiently answer with dazzling smiles.
So far, the only woman having a better week is Slovenian racer Tina Maze, with a gold medal Friday and her eye on more.
Kris Ashley is the director and keeps track of the cheerleaders, which she says is a labor of love.
Ashley is a New York native and recently transplanted to Summit County. She was a professional dancer for 14 years — four with the Knicks and six with her own rock-infused dance company, Candy Janes.
She hosted auditions in Vail, Avon and Denver to fill 10 spots.
Ashley knows what she is looking for — “a beautiful person, inside and out.”
Yeah, they all had perfect hair and makeup during the three-hour auditions and now that they’re performing.
The only other skiing cheerleaders were at the Sochi Olympics Nordic events.
“We’re making history,” Ashley said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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