Xfinity Birds of Prey races scheduled to return in December
Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup returns to Beaver Creek Dec. 3-5
The Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup will return to Beaver Creek this December, the Vail Valley Foundation announced Friday.
In 2020, the event — and the entire North American leg of the World Cup tour — was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, organizers have evolved to make this large spectator event again a possibility. “In the nearly two years since the first appearance of the virus, we’ve had time to develop sound procedures and protocols,” said Mike Imhoff, President of the VVF.
Though the men’s World Cup calendar is still awaiting full confirmation from the FIS in September, the VVF listed Super-G for Friday, Dec. 3; Downhill on Saturday, Dec. 4; and Super-G for Sunday, Dec. 5. There will not be a giant slalom competition at this year’s event.
The Beaver Creek event will be part of the North American tour, which includes the races in Killington and Lake Louise. All events will be broadcast on NBC Sports.
“We could not be more thrilled to once again welcome the world back to the iconic Birds of Prey course here in Beaver Creek,” said Imhoff.
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What will be different?
With rising concerns over COVID-19 as we head into the winter season, adaptability is key to hosting such a large spectator event, especially when it comes to safety protocols, according to Tom Boyd, Director of PR & Communications for the VVF.
“FIS is an international organization and so the teams and athletes will be following a set of protocols that can work in multiple countries,” Boyd said. “This means this year we will likely not have the same in-person interface between athletes and spectators. There are also likely going to still be federal regulations in place regarding public transit, so people should be ready to wear masks on the buses.”
As far as logistics go, Boyd added that while the emphasis is on safety, there are also additional efforts in place to improve the flow of traffic throughout the event. “We are working with our partners to really tie together the race experience and the guest experience. Ideally, we will have weather that will permit ski in and ski out of the race venue, but that will depend on Mother Nature. If there’s good snow coverage, that makes things much easier.”
With so many variables in the air, Boyd is seeing through the challenges and looking forward to the races.
“I am most excited for the races themselves, that thrill of competition. We have some really strong competitors for the USA this year, and top racers from around the world gearing up for the Olympics,” Boyd said.
‘Back at one of the best courses in the world’
Home team athletes are also expressing their excitement for returning to Beaver Creek.
“We can’t wait to be back at one of the best courses in the world, here on home soil,” said Ryan Cochran-Siegle (USA), who was ranked third overall in the world in downhill before he was sidelined by an injury last January. “I have this date circled on my calendar. We all love Birds of Prey. It’s everything from the track to the people to the volunteers to the general environment and history of U.S. Ski Team success at Beaver Creek that make this return to home soil something all of us are highly anticipating.”
The anticipation is indeed high, and so are the stakes. Birds of Prey will serve as a qualifying event for athletes to earn their place on the 2022 U.S. Olympic Ski Team and travel to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games Feb. 4-20, 2022, in Beijing.
The feeling of gratitude the athletes have for competing in this event, on this course, is mutual.
“Beaver Creek Resort is proud to host Birds of Prey, and we’re excited to showcase our world-class steep terrain and unrivaled hospitality,” Beaver Creek Resort COO Nadia Guerriero said. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for our resort and community to welcome some of the world’s best athletes on their journey to the 2022 Winter Olympics.”
For more information, visit bcworldcup.com.