No more booze, but more Beav?
ASPEN – Keep your fingers crossed, Americans. Due to a lack of snowfall and warm conditions in Val d’Isere, France, and St. Moritz, Switzerland, which are scheduled to host men’s and women’s events, respectively, Dec. 9-10, Beaver Creek may be the site of several stops on the World Cup circuit this year. Rumblings of changes in World Cup venues Friday morning were confirmed by Atle Skaardal, the women’s FIS alpine director at the captain’s meetings later in the day.”It’s very warm and the weather forecast is going to stay very warm for the next few days in (St. Mortiz) and it’s the same situation in Val d’Isere,” said Skaardal. “We’re working with different possibilities with these races. It’s still too early to confirm anything, but (the United States Skiing Association) has been asked to take over these races and they are looking into different possibilities here in Aspen or in Beaver Creek. “We’re working hard to have something confirmed by Saturday or Sunday if the situations continue like they are now in St. Moritz and Val d’Isere.”FIS has contacted the Vail Valley Foundation, the organization which runs the men’s Birds of Prey races scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 3, about the possibility of bringing more events to Beaver Creek according to VVF spokesperson John Dakin.”There’s a couple of different scenarios,” he said. “It could be additional men’s races. It could be bringing in the women. It could be bringing in both the men and the women in.””I hate to even go down that road. There are somany pieces of the puzzle which need to get put into place before you can even guestimate what soemthing might look like. There’s every possibility that something may not happen.”The variables for FIS moving races are numerous. The weather in Europe can change. The ski-racing body may decide to take its chances in Europe by adding race dates later in the season there after the men finish their regularly-scheduled races in Beaver Creek, and the women are done in lake Louise, Alberta.For Beaver Creek to continue as a World Cup site after Dec. 3 would also require machinations. The VVF counts on 200 or so volunteers to staff the existing races, and there is no guarantee about manpower for more events. There’s also the issue of purse money – about $160,000 for two races, according to Dakin, not to mention Vail Resorts’ lobor costs, busing issues and television.
That having been said, Beaver Creek has stepped in twice in the last seven years. In 1999, Park City, Utah, was short of snow, and Birds of Prey took on giant slalom and slalom races. In 2003, Val d’Isere had similar problems. Already staging a downhill and super-G, Beaver Creek hosted an extra downhill from the French resort.The 2003 resecheduling was particularly memorable because American Daron Rahlves ended up winning the “Val d’Isere” downhill on home snow, beginning a tremendous stretch for the red, white and blue at Birds of Prey.If races were to be added to Beaver Creek, Dakin speculated that they would be scheduled for the week of Dec. 4, after the original men’s races. If the women do indeed come to Beaver Creek, it would be the first time they’ve competed on the Birds of Prey course.The last time the women stopped in Eagle County was the 1999 World Alpine Skiing Championships, and they conested all their events on International in Vail.Vail resident Lindsey Kildow jumped at the opportunity to race at Beaver Creek. “I would love that,” Kildow said. “I want to talk to (FIS) about it. I’ll lobby for it. That would be awesome.”Kildow wasn’t the only U.S. Ski Team member giddy over the possible longer stint of U.S. races.”I’d be great to race in the U.S. for two more weeks,” said Patrick Riml, the head women’s alpine coach. “(Or) until Christmas. I’m just throwing that out there. (U.S. alpine director) Jesse Hunt has been trying to get a (women’s) downhill in the U.S. for a few years. I’d be great to show how fast our girls are.” With the rescheduling still up in the air, the American racers were happy with this weekend’s only traditional race in the United States.”I get to call my friends on my cell phone and eat American food,” said Libby Ludlow.Kildow also expressed her predilection for stateside races.”You’ve got awesome food, good hotels and it makes things more productive,” said Kildow, who enjoyed a breakfast of an American staple – French toast.Another thing for which Kildow is thankful while still close to home is laundry.”It’s impossible to get your laundry done in Europe,” Kildow said. “So I bring five humongous duffel bags.”
Before the Americans break out the bubbly, they may need to get special permission. According to a new U.S. team policy, athletes must refrain from drinking alcohol at official team lodgings and competitions.”Our goal as an organization is to create the best environment for our athletes, and that’s what we are trying to pursue at the moment,” Hunt said. “I think it will take a little bit of change in our culture for our team. We’re looking at it as positive change.” Another part of the new rules stipulates that athletes stay at official World Cup housing during training and competition. In the past, skiers like Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso traveled the World Cup tour in RVs, though it remains to be seen how the rules will play out.”I think it’s a little it extreme,” Kildow said of the alcohol restrictions. “I think it was good that they set some type of alcohol policy, but the fact that you can’t have a glass of wine at dinner with your coach is a little over the top. It makes life difficult because my coaches are my friends.” When Hunt was asked if the no tolerance rule applied to champagne for celebrations, he said the team would look into the issue.”It’s not tolerance unless the C.E.O. I approving it” Hunt said.
Today’s giant slalom features 64 racers and nine Americans. The course will have 49 gates and the first run starts at 10 a.m.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2935. Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado CO