Vail Daily column: Pressure is a privilege for 2015 preparations
As the days leading up to the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships continue to fly by on the cover of this newspaper, I often get questions about whether we are beginning to feel the pressure of getting everything ready in time for the world to come calling. Some are wondering about the pressures of dealing with such a large and complex event, with so many moving pieces and parts.
From my perspective, tennis great Billie Jean King pretty much summed up our responsibility in the title of her 2008 book, “Pressure is a Privilege.” While there is indeed a tremendous amount of pressure associated with having the eyes of the world on our community for two weeks, I feel that we are also extremely privileged to have the opportunity to experience that pressure.
Keep in mind that while we are fortunate enough to count 2015 as Vail and Beaver Creek’s third World Championships, there are very few communities throughout the world that have had the opportunity to be involved in the World Championships. Remember that aside from our neighbors to the west in Aspen in 1950, the Vail Valley is the only other North American site to have the privilege of hosting an alpine championships.
Dig a little deeper and you will discover an even more interesting fact. Since the inception of the World Championships in 1931, there have been a total of only 23 resorts around the globe that have hosted them. Among those, only St. Moritz, Switzerland, has hosted three World Championships, a fourth one waiting in the wings in 2017 when our sister city will once again welcome the world.
Without a doubt, the 2015 World Championships will be the biggest event this community has ever experienced. Some people think that just because we’ve done the 1989 and 1999 World Championships, 2015 should be a walk in the park. They are mistaken.
Aside from the fact that there will be more athletes, coaches and officials from more nations represented this time around, the explosion of technology during the past 15 years alone catapults this event into a completely different stratosphere. Remember that in 1999, we had a total of four email addresses for the World Championships and our event website was the first site in the Vail Valley.
For all intents and purposes, digital photography was not far enough advanced to utilize for high-speed sporting events and a new wireless technology called Wi-Fi had just been standardized. Fax was the high-tech method of communication.
In 1999, the Birds of Prey downhill course featured a total of 25 cameras. That number will increase to 43 cameras this time around, with a total of close to 200 camera positions on all Vail and Beaver Creek racecourses. Our host broadcast and NBC Sports partners will provide an estimated 900 hours of coverage to some 70 nations during the course of the two weeks of the event, reaching some 750 million people. In 1999, those numbers reflected 31 countries and 400 million people.
As a result of all of our technological advances, we have truly become a world of instant gratification. While those advances allow us to reach millions more people than we could have in 1999 with our World Championships message, it also becomes incumbent on us to make sure that all of these same people have consistently updated information and results.
Is there pressure associated with all of this? You bet. The 2015 World Championships will present both challenges and opportunities that we could never have imagined in 1999, let alone 1989. We have no choice but to bring our A game every day and I am certain that this community will once again deliver in stellar fashion.
We truly are privileged to have the opportunity that awaits us just four months from now. While there is indeed pressure each and every day as the World Championships draw near, we are on the verge of an incredible two weeks of excitement, drama, action and celebration.
Just imagine how you will feel if a member of the U.S. Ski Team wins a medal, especially if it is Lindsey or Mikaela, at our World Championships. We are among a select group of global communities that have been entrusted with the awesome responsibility of providing the best for the world’s best.
I hope you will join with us in not only embracing, but feeling the pride that comes along with that honor. Pressure is indeed a privilege.
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.
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