Beaver Creek and Vail welcome to the Worlds, part II
OK, I admit it.
I was rooting against Beaver Creek-Vail’s bid for 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships. Before you come here with torches, I’m the last survivor at the Vail Daily from “The last great party of the 20th Century,” which was how the 1999 Worlds were billed.
It’s really fun to go to the races, wave the flag, ring a cowbell and go home. I get that. On the other hand, going to the races for two weeks straight and then having to put out stories while overdosing on parmesan cheese and Milka chocolate loses its appeal after a while, as was the case in 1999.
So we will attempt to make lemons out of lemonade.
• Yes, it’s a boon for our local economy. No, we will not have the real estate boom we had in 1989, which didn’t materialize 10 years later. But it’s darn good to have Beaver Creek and Vail on television every day certainly in Europe and a lot more attention stateside.
• And alpine skiing needs help here in the United States. The sports gets no favors from television, as we saw during the Winter Games in February. Even with Americans excelling – Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller, in particular – everything was on tape delay. It really is not that hard to show a ski race – just the top 30.
European TV puts in commercial breaks after skier Nos. 15 and 22. It takes up all of an hour for downhill and super-G and two for the giant slalom, slalom and super-combined. Without 27 hours of figure skating, the sport should get on TV.
Also by hosting, more Americans may actually see a race in person, and this is the key. Once you see a race in person, you’re hooked. Think about it – what American wouldn’t like to see a racer fly down Red Tail? The sport’s fast and dangerous.
The 1999 downhill drew 20,000 fans, and you can bet on similar if not larger numbers in 2015. (We do put in a pitch here for better organization when it comes to accommodating crowds. A bunch of us had to park out at Stolport for the Beaver Creek downhiill, which is no longer an option as the big boxes are there.)
• With winning the bid comes a women’s Birds of Prey course. This is exciting and its legacy will outlast the 2015 Worlds. We’ve needed a venue for women’s speed events for a long time between Vail and Beaver Creek. It’s been a shame that Lindsay Vonn and Sarah Schleper haven’t been able to ski a World Cup event at home.
• Speaking of which, who will be here in 2015? Schleper’s announced she’ll be back for the 2010-11 season, but she’ll be turning 36 by the time Worlds arrive here. Vonn will be 30, which could be very fun for the home crowd. Yes, five years is an eternity in ski racing, but this is a realistic scenario. She’s won everything she needs to win go down as a great, but I’d bet she sticks around for Worlds in the United States.
It’s hard to see Bode Miller racing in 2015, but Ted Ligety, Steve Nyman and Andrew Weibreicht just to name a few? Yep. As opposed to 1999, when no Americans made the podium, this will be cool.
• This all said, Vail-Beaver Creek 1999 won the right to host in the mid-90s, and Hermann Maier was a ski instructor in Austria at the time. He and Norway’s Lasse Kjus ended up being the headliners on the men’s side – they tied in super-G. Alexandra Meissnitzer and Renate Gotschl led a parade of Austrian women to the podium on the ladies’ side. Then there was Australia’s Zali Steggall who won slalom gold, and was never heard from again. (Our headline was “Zali: Australian for gold.”)
• The stories will write themselves as they always do be they with people we know or will discover in the next five years. OK, now I’m ready.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.