Opening Ceremonies kick off Championships |

Opening Ceremonies kick off Championships

The International Ski Federation President Gian Franco Kasper addresses the many athletes, teams and spectators that came from around the world to witness the 2015 World Alpine Championships during the opening ceremonies Monday in Vail.
Justin Q. McCarty |

VAIL — If the Opening Ceremonies are any indication of how the rest of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships will play out, we’re in for quite a show.

Amid a Super Bowl halftime show-type atmosphere, copious fireworks, free swag giveaways, a large marching band, jook dancing and a multitude of speeches that were inaudible from the outskirts of the enormous crowd were perforated by concert songs from several of the performers who will play free shows during the next two weeks.

Completely packed full of people was the entire Championships Plaza area at the Solaris, including Meadow Drive, the Village Center Mall, both levels of Solaris including every balcony there, and all the balconies at One Willow Bridge Road across the street.

Teams from countries all over the globe were paraded in, carrying flags from their homes. The U.S. received a deafening ovation but Mexico, with its last-but-not-least entrance, received wild applause as Vail-native Sarah Schleper, the country’s marquee skier, danced her way down the isle in a triangular explosion of bouncing hair.

Los Angeles performer Lil’ Buck, a regular at the Vail International Dance Festival, thrilled the crowd with his one-of-a-kind jook-dancing style as a large marching band performed a moving rendition of Big Boi’s “The Way You Move.”

All ages from infants to octogenarians could be found in the crowd, no surprises there, but the millennials and 20-somethings, often an outcast group at local celebrations of ski racing, were out in force at the event, enjoying the music and waiting patiently through the speeches, which weren’t necessarily taking place in the English language.

“I don’t know who this is, Andreas something,” said 19-year-old Jamee Hanrahan as she danced to the music of Andreas Gabalier. She was joined by her friend, 20-year-old Kayla Bruntz, of Edwards.

“We’re really looking forward to Michael Franti tomorrow night,” Hanrahan said.

Franti and the rest of the performers will take the stage at the same venue beginning at 7 p.m. during the World Championships. Based on the large crowd numbers at Monday’s event, showing up early would be among the top recommendations for best enjoying the remaining shows in store.

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