Crews prepared to clear snow on Beaver Creek World Cup course |

Crews prepared to clear snow on Beaver Creek World Cup course

Melanie Wong
An Italian racer takes a short training lap down Centennial run after the Birds of Prey downhill training was canceled Tuesday at Beaver Creek. The first downhill training run is now scheduled for today, weather permitting.
Dominique Taylor | |

New Birds of Prey schedule

Friday, Dec. 6 at 10:45 a.m. — Downhill

Saturday, Dec. 7 at 11 a.m. — Super-G

Sunday, Dec. 8 at 9:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. — Giant slalom

BEAVER CREEK — It’s a powder hound’s dream, but a ski racer’s nightmare.

Weather forecasts are calling for heavy snow for the upcoming week, leading organizers to change the World Cup schedule for this weekend’s Audi Birds of Prey men’s competitions at Beaver Creek.

“In anticipation of the forecasted storm, we changed the race schedule to allow our course workers and operations crews to fully focus on preparing the downhill track and then switch to super-G following Friday’s race,” said Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation.

Originally scheduled for super-G on Friday, downhill on Saturday and giant slalom on Sunday, the new race schedule will now feature men’s downhill on Friday, super-G on Saturday, and giant slalom on Sunday.

In addition to the change in the competition schedule, the start times have also been altered, with Friday’s downhill slated for 10:45 a.m., Saturday’s super-G at 11 a.m. and Sunday’s giant slalom at 9:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

The race changes were made so that crews could focus on clearing and maintaining the downhill course for training days, and then move right into race day. The original format was scheduled to maximize primetime television in Europe but would have required crews to maintain the super-G course and then move back to the downhill course the next day.

Training delayed

Training was scheduled to start on Tuesday, but snowstorms in Calgary, Alberta, prevented some of the ski racers, who just finished another World Cup in Lake Louise, Alberta, from flying to Vail on Monday as planned.

As of Tuesday afternoon, all teams had arrived in Eagle, waiting to see if training would proceed on Wednesday.

Of course, getting snowed out is a common occurrence for any ski team, and racers learn to deal with the unpredictability, said U.S. Ski Team Press Officer Doug Haney.

Per the rules, racers must have a minimum of one official training run in order for a downhill race to be held.

“They just adapt the best they can,” Haney said. “For example, Ted Ligety and a few others went to Copper (on Tuesday) and did some training there. It doesn’t change our plans too much.”

Clearing the course

Meanwhile, race organizers and course crews were waiting on the expected storm — the same system that hit Calgary — to hit Eagle County.

Depending on how much snow the mountain gets, and what kind of snow it is, crews will start working to prepare the course for training today. Birds of Prey Chief of Press John Dakin said that as of Tuesday, today’s training day will start as planned at 11 a.m.

“Right now, it’s hurry up and wait,” Dakin said. “Obviously, if we have the entire night to deal with it, it’s better than if it starts real early in the morning. What we do will depend on the snow, if it’s wet or dry. The ultimate goal is to get it pushed off the course.”

In event of snow, a designated race jury will go up on the slope, inspect the course and make a decision on whether to delay, proceed with or cancel the day’s training run or race. The other factor that can affect training and races is visibility — if it is snowing, foggy or conditions are low light, it is grounds for organizers to cancel the day’s runs.

The weather forecast calls for significant snowfall, with predictions varying from 1 to 2 feet of accumulation through the end of today and cold temperatures.

The weather is expected to clear up toward the end of the week, although temperatures will remain cold.

For up-to-date information on the 2013 Audi Birds of Prey Men’s World Cup, check out http://www.bc

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at

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