Beav’ picks up King of Mountain
BEAVER CREEK – If it snows, they will come.Due to poor conditions in Europe, the Jeep King of the Mountain Series is headed for Beaver Creek next Sunday.The snowboarding event featuring Olympic medalists in boardercross was originally scheduled for Zel am See, Austria, but Monday organizers decided to scrap the European venue.”I’d been watching the weather all along, and talking to the our liaison (in Austria),” said Ted Martin, vice president of competition for Eclipse, a Vail-based company that stages the event. “It was raining (Monday) and the weather forecast was up into the 50’s. There was only 30 centimeters on the top of the mountain.”But Martin and Eclipse President Henry Schneidman were prepared for the scenario.”When it looked like it may be a problem two and a half weeks ago, I set up meeting with John Garnsey of Vail Resorts and Tony O’Rourke of Beaver Creek Resort Company,” Schneidman said. “I told them, ‘Before I call any other mountain in the country, we would very much like to bring it to Beaver Creek.”Garnsey and O’Rourke were very receptive to the idea.”We said, ‘If they don’t get it, we’d love to do it,” O’Rourke said.
The competition, which will start at noon on Jan. 21, features eight male and female riders going head-to-head for two runs a y-shaped course. Torino medalists Seth Wescott, Tanja Frieden and Lindsey Jacobellis headline the starter list of Olympic athletes, National Champions and X-Games medalists.Wescott and Jacobellis won the first event of the series, which was in Snowbird, Utah.A perfect fitIt wasn’t just the snow that brought the King of the Mountain event to consider Beaver Creek. Last summer, King of the Mountain held the final leg of the World Mountain Biking Championships at Beaver Creek on Haymeadow, where the snowboarding event will take place.”We had a really good result and relationship with them from the mountain biking event. It naturally made sense to look at it for one of our events,” said Martin, who lives in the area. “I’ve been looking at that site for years.”And Beaver Creek had its eyes on the winter leg of the King of the Mountain.”We were bugging them last year to see if we could get onto the schedule,” O’Rourke said. King of the Mountain already had its schedule set, but then, as has been the case in snow sports this winter, warm weather in Europe changed the situation. “It happened to work out pretty well for us,” O’Rourke said.More than a month ago, the International Ski Federation (FIS) had to cancel World Cup races in Europe, and tried to reschedule them in Beaver Creek, but the venture was unsuccessful due to a lack of sponsorship money.While the snowboarding event comes to Beaver Creek on short notice, there’s still a lot to be gained in terms of marketing.
“It was a nice opportunity for us to pick up a fun event that has an hour on national television,” Garnsey said.The event, which is free and open to the public, will air Feb. 17 on CBS from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. And while hosting an event does occupy hill space, the Haymeadow location is ideal for the race, and the resort.”We felt we could put it in a location that would not be disruptive to the flow of the resort and a location that would help them out,” Garnsey said.Then there’s the advantage for the athletes, most of whom will be in Arosa, Switzerland for the World Championships, starting Jan. 14. “The other good thing about Beaver Creek is that it works because the X-Games are in Aspen (Jan. 25-28) and most of our athletes are going there,” Martin said. “They already had their plane tickets to come to the U.S.”Instead of purchasing new tickets for racers, the organizers only had to change the dates of one leg. Additionally, a few more high-profile competitors may fill the two invitation slots on both the men’s and women’s side because of the timing of the Beaver Creek race.Beating the clockOver the weekend, Martin had to keep a close eye on some precious cargo.”The (event) equipment had been sent to Chicago and had been on the plane waiting to go the Europe,” Martin said. “When I looked at the forecast (in Austria), I called the shipper in Denver and asked her to stop the shipment.”Martin, who was FIS director of Snowboarding at the 2002 Salt Lake Games, and also designed the mountain biking course for last summer’s event, will have all the equipment in time for the event.
Already, the resort is making snow, and Monday or Tuesday, Martin will begin to design the course, possibly along with competition Sean Palmer.”Beaver Creek is bending over backwards for us,” Martin said.What: Jeep King of the Mountain snowboarding raceWhere: Beaver Creek’s HaymeadowWhen: Jan. 21, starting 12 p.m.Who: Eight 2006 Olympians including medalists Seth Wescott, Lindsey Jacobellis and Tanja FriedenFormat: Best-of-two, head-to-head racing in a y-shaped courseSports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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