Beaver Creek picks up three more races |

Beaver Creek picks up three more races

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
BOP DH Training Ligety JM 11-30-11

BEAVER CREEK – With little snow and unseasonably warm temperatures in Val d’Isere, France, Beaver Creek has gained three more World Cup ski races this season and the action starts just two days after this weekend’s Birds of Prey races finish.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) has chosen Beaver Creek as the replacement venue for the canceled Val d’Isere World Cup races, which were originally scheduled for Dec. 10-11.

Vail Valley Foundation president Ceil Folz said that while the Foundation doesn’t ever hope for another organizer to lose races, the addition of races at Beaver Creek is “an added bonus for our community.”

“We have a long tack record of hosting transplanted races and it is a pleasure to be able to step in once again and help the FIS in this regard,” Folz said.

FIS race director Guenter Hujara announced the venue change Wednesday afternoon. The races begin Tuesday with the men’s giant slalom, women’s super-G on Wednesday and men’s slalom on Thursday. Wednesday’s race will be the first time World Cup women will race on the Birds of Prey course. The Foundation said the last time World Cup women raced at Vail or Beaver Creek was during the 1999 World Alpine Ski Championships.

Vail’s Lindsey Vonn said in a U.S. Ski Team video from Lake Louise Wednesday that she can’t wait for a women’s race in Beaver Creek. Vonn was a course slipper for the 1999 Championships, so she’s slipped down the course but never run it herself, she said.

“I am so excited, it’s going to be an awesome, awesome race,” Vonn said. “I’ve always been jealous of the men, they get to always race World Cups in Beaver Creek and this will be my first World Cup in my hometown, so I’m really excited. I hope to see all my friends and family out there and I’m excited to try to ski well for the home crowd.”

Folz said no one thought they’d see Vonn race in Beaver Creek until the 2013 test event for the new women’s downhill course, which Beaver Creek will start building next year for the 2015 Vail Beaver Creek World Alpine Ski Championships.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the potential of not only seeing Lindsey compete here this year, but also on Birds of Prey,” Folz said.

Dakin said the women will need to get here and scope out the hill as soon as possible because they’ve never skied it before.

Double the races in Beaver Creek

Dakin and other Foundation members were visibly stressed after the announcement was made Wednesday afternoon. When a member of the press congratulated Dakin, he just laughed and shook his head, but he did say the news is nothing but great for Beaver Creek and for the Foundation.

“We only get one shot at this every year – us being the U.S. and Beaver Creek,” Dakin said. “So the opportunity to have extra races here is a bonus for Beaver Creek, for the Foundation, the community – it’s a bonus for Vail Resorts and obviously for the FIS because we have a pretty decent track record of being willing and able to help out with (rescheduled) races.”

Logistically speaking, the races aren’t too disruptive because they’re scheduled to begin Tuesday, Dakin said, and the last day of the Birds of Prey World Cup racing weekend wraps up Sunday afternoon with giant slalom.

“We’re set up; The hill’s prepared,” Dakin said.

U.S. Ski Team racer Bode Miller said the venue change shouldn’t matter in terms of logistics. He is happy to be able to stay put, though.

“The hill here is cool. It’s great to be able to stay here in the U.S., and for us it’s good because it’s early season and we’re still trying to get our testing and all of our training dialed in,” Miller said. “So to go over to France where there’s such limited snow would have posed an added challenge to test the stuff, whereas here, the training opportunities are pretty solid.”

U.S. Ski Team member Ted Ligety, who won the giant slalom at Birds of Prey last year, said more races in Beaver Creek “should be a lot of fun.”

“I’m really psyched about it,” Ligety said.

Ligety called Beaver Creek one of the best venues on the entire World Cup circuit Wednesday. He said everything from the race hill to the accommodations is excellent. Plus the fact that Beaver Creek is close to Ligety’s home of Park City, Utah, makes it even sweeter.

“It’s nice to have friends and family here,” he said.

For fans of ski racing, next week is another chance to see the world’s best ski racers up close. Shirley Smithson, of Vail, used to live downstairs from Vonn and has always wanted to see her race.

“It’s fabulous to have the women here because usually we get the men here and the women are in Aspen. To have the women here is fabulous,” Smithson said.

The feeling is mutual. Vonn is not only excited to race at home, but she’s excited to race the Birds of Prey course specifically.

“I have always wanted to ski Birds of Prey,” Vonn said. “… I’m looking forward to finally getting the opportunity to ski on the same track as the men.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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