Vail Daily column: And the skiing is great, too | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: And the skiing is great, too

Don Rogers
My View
Don Rogers
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

Yes, I must confess only a casual interest in the Championships.

I’ve sampled parts of it for posterity, like looking into the sky at 2 a.m. on the right starry night for Halley’s Comet. Opportunities like this don’t come around often.

Did the endless wait for the buses, climbed to the stands, saw Lindsey and company streak in their turn to the finish line after popping over the last face. Trekked back, glad for the exercise but not quite bursting to come back.

Concert here, Apres Avon there. All nice enough. People everywhere — great for business! That is, if it’s the right business in the right place. If this Championships holds form with 1999 and 1989, the economic blessings for the valley will be long term as more people learn what we already know: This is a great, great place.

My favorite moment, though, was sneaking out for some snowboarding at Beaver Creek while Vail hosted races.

And that’s the thing. Big as the Championships undoubtedly are, I’m not the only one whose interest in the sport runs almost purely recreational.

For Americans, it’s the doing rather than the watching that captivates. This isn’t football, baseball, basketball, hockey or even soccer for us.

We don’t watch running, bicycling, boarding or skiing. That’s what we do ourselves. Throw in hiking and this is why we visit. A precious few of us are truly fortunate enough to live in these mountains, and we’re not here for the shopping or art museums.

Sure, we have enough diehard ski racing fans to help load Ski & Snowboard Club Vail with young talent. A bunch have a good deal more than my casual interest. And some just have that instinctual urge to be where the action and excitement are, literally needing to follow the crowd, see what’s up.

Most locals, though, take note of where to avoid going for a couple of weeks. Some even went skiing out of town, although I’d guess they would have found much shorter lift lines at Vail while the races were at Beaver Creek, and vice versa. I did.

For savvy visitors intent on skiing rather than spectating, the Championships have been ideal. They are getting great ski conditions without the crowds, and then all the entertainment they could ever want in the evenings. Need a break from the masses? Plenty of great restaurants as close as Lionshead, on down to Edwards, provide that quieter ambiance out of the fray. That’s where I’ve gone while other members of the family hit the concerts and all that.

Having the Championships in America also is a welcome break for the superstar European skiers. Even Lindsey Vonn could hike through the crowd nearly unnoticed after at least one race. Tina Maze, the Slovenian wunderkind and pop music star atop her glory on the snow, can wander the villages and dine pretty much free of attention. Not gonna happen in Europe.

I still remember her buying posters last fall at the Vail Daily office, in good humor as she played coy with a staffer who was chatting about World Cup this and “you should come see the Championships” that.

She admitted with a smile she might just do that.

You never would have thought she had more than a passing interest in racing, either.

Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2920.