Beaver Creek race manager to make trip to Austria |

Beaver Creek race manager to make trip to Austria

Shauna Farnell
Special to the Daily Beaver Creek race department manager Greg Johnson was selected by the International Ski Federation to serve as the first American. technical delegate for the World Cup ski races in Kitzbuhel, Austria, this January. Race preparations have already begun for the Birds of Prey World Cup events at Beaver Creek. Johnson has served as chief of race for the Birds of Prey downhill event since 1997.

BEAVER CREEK – In the world of ski racing, the very mention of Kitzbuhel, Austria, sends a shiver of awareness down one’s spine. The venue, which hosts the largest ski race in the world and is considered by most competitors to be the most difficult, holds an unquestionable mystique. As many as 50,000 spectators attend the Hannenkahm downhill race at Kitzbuhel.This January, Beaver Creek race department manager Greg Johnson has been selected by the International Ski Federation (FIS) to serve as the technical delegate for the World Cup races in Kitzbuhel. He will be the first American ever chosen for the role.”I’ve been a FIS technical delegate (TD) for 10 years,” said Johnson, who has served as the chief of race for the Birds of Prey downhill race at Beaver Creek since the event’s inauguration in 1997. “I’ve done some events in Canada – Lake Louise, Whistler, Mont St. Anne. The FIS has a subcommittee. They appoint and decide who goes to these events. There’s a great deal of trading that goes on between nations. For an event like Kitzbuhel, which is probably the largest ski race in the world, all these nations want to get their TDs there.”

Most nations that participate in the World Cup have several FIS technical delegates. The technical delegate serves as one of a four-member jury at a FIS event and oversees safety and smooth running of all aspects of a race and the schedule surrounding it.”(Johnson) has experience building courses and knows how to prepare a course to make it race-ready,” said FIS race director Gunter Hujara, who attends all of the alpine ski World Cup races throughout the season. “He brings everything you need for top technical delegate, and to have him in Kitzbuhel is for me quite normal and very easy.”Last year, the Kitzbuhel chief of race made a trip to Beaver Creek to serve as technical delegate for the Birds of Prey.”If you’re out there and watching how organizers run their events, you can bring things home with you,” Johnson said. “When Kitzbuhel wanted to send their chief of race over as TD to see how we do things over here, it created the possibility for an American to go over there. It was pretty overwhelming to hear the news. It’s a tremendous surprise. There are so many FIS TDs in the U.S. that are qualified. I didn’t think it was very possible to get an American into Kitzbuhel. It’s a tremendous honor to be the first American to go.”

Pre-snow race preparationsA super-G opens the events in Kitzbuhel on Jan. 20 and is followed by the downhill and slalom events. Before Johnson heads to Austria, he will serve as chief of race for his ninth Birds of Prey downhill event, the premier race of the four-race series that begins Nov. 29 at Beaver Creek and is the only U.S. stop on the men’s alpine World Cup circuit.”We have a great reputation,” Johnson said. “The Birds of Prey has established itself as one of the best venues on the circuit.”

Johnson said the Birds of Prey downhill course varies just slightly from year to year and that race preparation has already begun on the course, the top of which was covered by more than a foot of snow Monday.”I talked to the Cat crew about packing some of that snow down on the course, but right now, it’s early to worry about snow,” he said. “We’ve had people out on the trail for over a month working on it. There’s quite a bit of work we do before the snow falls. We have materials stockpiled so we can get to them easily. We rig a lot of the snow nets. Snowmaking starts in earnest on Nov. 1. Any kind of early snow we get is great, as long as it’s sticking around. And usually after it snows we get cold fronts coming through, and we can make more snow with those colder temperatures.”Beaver Creek is scheduled to open Nov. 23.Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or, Colorado

Support Local Journalism