The ultimate Birds of Prey guide: how to watch, where to get autographs and much more | VailDaily.com
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The ultimate Birds of Prey guide: how to watch, where to get autographs and much more

Olympic legends Shaun White, Julia Mancuso and Ted Ligety headline Friday afternoon's autograph signings

The final day of downhill training took place at the Birds of Prey venue on Thursday. The first race is at 10:15 a.m. Friday.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Race weekend is here, folks and we have your comprehensive guide on who to watch and where to watch them. Of course, there’s more than just skiing at the Xfinity Birds of Prey FIS World Cup event — and we’ve got you covered there, too.

How to watch

There’s at least three ways to take in the Birds of Prey event — we’re not counting the fourth option of streaming NBC’s coverage from your couch. If the World Cup comes to your backyard, you might as well go.

First, there’s Red Tail Stadium, where the Battle Mountain High School drumline will provide a pre-race processional each morning. If getting to the finish area is your plan, Ross Leonhart of the Vail Valley Foundation, the local organizing committee for the Xfinity Birds of Prey, recommends getting an early start.



“With the races starting a bit earlier this year, we really want to encourage people to plan ahead,” he said, adding that fans should allow for about one hour of travel time from parking the car to standing in Red Tail Stadium.

Spectator parking is available in the Elk or Bear lots for $10 per vehicle (parking is free if it’s one hour or less or after 1 p.m.). Regularly scheduled free shuttles will bring spectators from the base parking area to the Vilar Performing Arts Center and Birds of Prey Way expo area. Then, take a short walk through the village to the covered bridge entrance to Beaver Creek, where another free race-shuttle will take you to Red Tail Stadium. Public concessions and restrooms are available at the mid-mountain finish. Also, leave Fido at home — no dogs are allowed in Red Tail Stadium.

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Birds of Prey fast facts

2021 winners

SG – Marco Odermatt, SUI

SG – Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, NOR

DH – Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, NOR

Winningest racers

Hermann Maier, AUT (6)

Aksel, Lund Svindal, NOR, Ted Ligety, USA (5)

Marcel Hirscher, AUT, Bode Miller, USA (4)

Winningest countries

Austria (22)

Switzerland (15)

USA (13)

Course history

  • The BOP racecourse was built in 1997 in preparation for the 1999 World Alpine Ski Championships. It was designed by Olympic downhill gold medalist Bernhard Russi of Switzerland.
  • The course drops 757 meters, with an average gradient of 17 degrees and max gradient of 32 degrees.
  • The first BOP competition was Dec. 2-6, 1997. Italy’s Kristian Ghedina won the first race, the opening downhill on Dec. 4.
  • Daron Rahlves holds the fastest World Cup or World Championship race time ever recorded on the BOP course (1:39.59). HIs 2003 downhill victory brought an end to a 19-year American drought on U.S. soil — it was the first time an American male had stood on the top step of a World Cup downhill podium in the U.S. since Bill Johnson’s 1984 downhill win in Aspen.

 

The second option is to enjoy the action at the new live watch party set up on the ice rink in Beaver Creek Village. There will be a DJ to get the party started before the live race feed comes on, and spectators can enjoy food, drink and sponsor expos as well.

Finally, fans will also be able to enjoy ski-in, ski-out access to the stadium starting Friday via Red Tail Trail.

Due to Red Tail Trail being used by the ski racers each day to warm up before the races, the trail will not open to the public until 10 a.m. and will close at 1 p.m., Friday-Sunday. The intermediate run will be closed to the public on Thursday. Dally will provide a beginner trail out, with Birds of Prey Express Lift taking skiers and snowboarders back up the mountain.



Thus, spectators who would like to be at Red Tail Stadium to view the start of the races will need to use the free buses up to the stadium from Beaver Creek Village. Ski racks will be available at the venue, and spectators will have access to the Birds of Prey Express Lift (No. 9) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day of the races to exit the venue, or can ski or snowboard down from the venue via Dally.

“It’s a rare experience to be able to ski in and ski out to view the Xfinity Birds of Prey races,” said Ron Rupert, Chief of Race and Beaver Creek Resort Manager of Competition Services, in a Friday night press release.

“I want to share immense gratitude to all of the teams that worked diligently to pull off this experience. We can’t wait to welcome guests to Beaver Creek Resort for some electric ski racing this weekend!”

Xfinity Birds of Prey Race Schedule
  • Downhill — Friday, Dec. 2, 10:15 a.m.
  • Downhill — Saturday, Dec. 3, 10 a.m.
  • Super G — Sunday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m.

For a full schedule of events, visit bcworldcup.com/events/

Who to watch

Erik Arvidsson of the U.S. leans into one of the final turns of the Xfinity Birds of Prey downhill practice runs Thursday in Beaver Creek.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The veterans:

  • Beat Feuz, 35 SUI: 16 World Cup wins, 58 World Cup podiums, four World Cup downhill season titles, three World Championship medals, three Olympic medals, two Birds of Prey wins.
  • Mattias Mayer, 32, AUT: 11 World Cup wins, 44 World Cup podiums, four Olympic medals, three Birds of Prey podiums (2021, 2019). Had Thursday’s top downhill training run.
  • Vincent Kriechmayr, 31, AUT: 12 World Cup wins, 27 World Cup podiums, one World Cup season title (2021 super-G), four World Championship medals, one Birds of Prey win (2017 super-G).
  • Alexis Pinturault, 31, FRA: 34 World Cup wins, 74 World Cup podiums, six World Championship medals, six Olympic medals, two Birds of Prey podiums (2014, super-G and GS)
Austria’s Matthias Mayer leans into one of the final turns of the downhill practice run for the Xfinity Birds of Prey Thursday in Beaver Creek. Mayer took the top speed for the final practice run.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily Chris Dillmann

The favorites:

  • Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, 30, NOR: 14 World Cup wins, 31 World Cup podiums, five World cup season titles (2016 and 2022 super-G, 2020 overall, 2022 downhill), two Birds of Prey wins (2021 downhill, super-G).
  • Marco Odermatt, 25, SUI: 13 World Cup wins, 32 World Cup podiums, two Birds of Prey wins (2021 super-G, 2019, super-G).

The ageless wonders:

  • Johan Clarey, 41, FRA: nine World Cup podiums, one World Championships medal (2019 super-G silver), one Birds of Prey podium (second place, 2019 downhill).
  • Steve Nyman, 40, USA: three World Cup wins, 11 World Cup podiums, two Birds of Prey podiums (second place, 2007 downhill, third place, 2014 downhill).
Steven Nyman of the U.S. turns on the final downhill practice run of the Xfinity Birds of Prey ski races Thursday in Beaver Creek. Nyman is the second oldest racer in the races.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The American hopefuls:

  • Bryce Bennett: two-time Olympian; one career World Cup downhill win (2021, Val Gardena, ITA). Was 26th in Thursday’s downhill training run.
  • Travis Ganong: 2015 World Championship silver medalist in Beaver Creek, third-place in last year’s Birds of Prey super-G.
  • Ryan Cochran-Siegle: 2022 Olympic silver medalist (super-G). Was fourth overall in Thursday’s downhill training run.
  • River Radamus: Edwards skier was the fourth-place finisher at 2022 Olympics in giant slalom; 15th in super-G. 2019 World Junior champion (super-G and giant slalom), looking for first World Cup podium in Sunday’s super-G.
  • Kyle Negomir: 24-year-old SSCV alumnus had his first World Cup start at Beaver Creek on Dec. 2, 2018. The 2019 NorAm champion has looked strong in training after sustaining a season-ending downhill training-run crash in Dec. 2020.
Kyle Negomir of the U.S. pushes to the finish on the final training downhill training run of the Xfinity Birds of Prey Thursday in Beaver Creek.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily
Local River Radimus pushes to the finish during the final practice run for downhill at the Xfinity Birds of Prey Thursday in Beaver Creek. Radimus will compete in the Super-G on Sunday.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Star-studded signings

On Friday, memorabilia hunters should plan to stick around after the first downhill event to grab autographs from Shaun White, members of the U.S. Ski Team, and Olympic heroes Julia Mancuso and Ted Ligety. White will be hanging at the Celsius Igloo in Beaver Creek Village from 2:30-3:30 p.m. The five-time Olympian is a three-time half-pipe gold medalist — if you get his signature, follow Jim Carrey’s advice: “Might want to hold onto that one.”

Members of the U.S. Ski Team will be signing posters, helmets, ski poles and/or your baby’s forehead in Birds of Prey Way from 3-4 p.m. If you still want more autographs, stop by the Shred Dog Booth in Beaver Creek Village between 3:45 and 4:15 p.m. to meet five-time World Championship medalist and four-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso. Then, head over to the GoPro booth to snag Ted Ligety’s autograph from 4:30-5:00 p.m.

Santa, Beers of Prey, live music and more

If ski racing isn’t your thing, it’s still worth trekking up to Beaver Creek. For those looking for the complete Christmas Instagram moment, grab a cup of hot chocolate and visit with Santa under the falling snow in Beaver Creek Village from 3-6 p.m. on Friday. From 4-6 p.m., Blink 90210 will light up the TINCUP Music Stage, and afterward, fireworks — beginning at 6:15 p.m. — will light up the night sky.

For more information on the weekend Birds of Prey picks, check out Carolyn Paletta’s piece in tomorrow’s edition of the Vail Daily. Saturday afternoon will be jam-packed. Ugly Rumor and Tonewood String Band are performing back-to-back starting at 2 p.m., Beers of Prey — your chance to sample limited edition, seasonal, fan-favorite brews — is from 2-5 p.m., and Warren Miller’s “Daymaker,” which features local athletes Brian Rice and Ava Keenan, is showing at the Vilar Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m.

For a full schedule of events, visit bcworldcup.com/events/.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle of the U.S. turns on his final downhill practice run for the Xfinity Birds of Prey Thursday in Beaver Creek. Cochran-Siegle placed top 10 in both practice runs.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

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