A third time for alpine? It’s only fitting
I want to see a new bumper sticker around town.Don’t get me wrong, the “Vail ’99” one is pretty cool, and the “Cheney skis in jeans” one is divine, but there’s one that belongs on the back of all cars come March 2008.Vail ’13.Recently, the Vail Valley Foundation announced its bid for the 2013 World Alpine Skiing Championships. While the valley is up against some serious competition – St. Moritz, Switzerland; Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy; and Schladming, Austria – in almost every category on my list, Vail/Beaver Creek comes up on top.During the 1989 and 1999 world championships here, the valley put on a great show. And the VVF has done a phenomenal job hosting the Birds of Prey World Cup year after year.It seems that every year when the World Cup rolls into town, the valley gets hit with several feet of snow, yet the VVF’s army of volunteers somehow readies the course. If for 2013, the International Ski Federation (FIS) requested that we physically move Vail and Beaver Creek a few feet, we’d make it happen.The VVF and the community have been more than good soldiers for FIS, rescheduling races from snow-deprived areas in years past and offering to host almost another week of racing last December.Yes, I know that all of these things make for a great resume, but it may not count a ton when the 17 members of the FIS Council vote for the 2013 host. Just like the Olympics, there’s a ton of other factors – rational and irrational – that go into the decision process.Cosmic chartIf FIS decides to play the numbers game, the valley is up on my abacus. Vail was the last North American venue to host a World Championships. Since 1999, all events have been in Europe, and Vail is the only non-European venue for 2013. St. Moritz hosted the event in 2003, and has already hosted four (although before 2003, they were in 1974, 1948 and 1934). Austria hosted the 2001 championships in St. Anton and is one of the three remaining candidates for the 2014 Olympics. Italy hosted the 2005 championships and also had the 2006 Olympics.I know that the FIS Council members (minus one of the vice presidents and U.S. Ski Association President Bill Marolt) won’t shrug their shoulders and give Vail the bid, but this has to fit into the equation. There is one issue on which all FIS members will likely agree: Global warming is kind of a big deal in the ski industry. The world championships aren’t until February, but many European venues canceled events last winter or struggled to hold races, even during parts of the winter when snow shouldn’t have been a problem. Vail is a pretty safe bet for snow – and lots of it.And it has to help that racers speak highly of the World Cup races, year after year. Yes, there are the whiners who can’t take being away from Europe for a full week, but as Beaver Creek touts in its advertisements, “It’s not exactly roughing it.”Prime timeWhen it’s ski time here, it’s nighttime in Europe. If Vail hosts the 2013 games, all of the races will be during primetime TV for Europe. Think “American Idol,” “24,” “The Barbaro Life Story” and “The NHL Playoffs on Versus” combined into one show. If FIS wants the most people to watch, and make some serious bank on TV contracts, it would make total sense for the championships to be here.There are few barriers that Vail will have to overcome, though. In 1989 and 1999, the VVF had a big ally in President Ford. It goes without saying that someone like Ford can tip the balance in your favor. This time around, Vail has a few big guns with international connections and respectability that it may call upon. For the 2009 bid, Vail sought the alpine, freestyle and snowboard world championships, and didn’t get any of the three. This may have rubbed some of the FIS Council members the wrong way. But Vail skipped out on a 2011 bid, which may help.Ever Vail?The construction never seems to stop in the valley. Only days after the mountain closes down, traffic cones go up and roads close. This is a good thing, as far as FIS is concerned. Unlike some of the older European venues, the valley is willing and able to develop, redevelop and reredevelop. Today’s Vail isn’t the Vail from ’99 and certainly not the Vail from ’89. I think Vail 2013 will be a bit different from today, too.Hopefully, we can see what Vail ’13 will look like in March of 2008. Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.