Vail Daily column: Hosting the world at Golden Peak
If you look up at Golden Peak this time of year you will see the snow guns pumping out snow day and night whenever Mother Nature cooperates with cold temperatures. An unprecedented partnership involving Vail Resorts, the United States Forest Service, the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District, the support of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail donors and financing by Alpine Bank enabled the club to fund this automated, state of the art snowmaking system. Thanks to the great work of the world-class snowmaking and grooming crews of Vail Resorts and its tireless staff of ski patrollers, scanners, mechanics and lift operators, for the seventh year in a row Golden Peak will be up and running from early November through the Birds of Prey World Cup weekend as an exclusive venue for competitive snowsport athletes.
This venue at Golden Peak enables Ski & Snowboard Club Vail to not only serve its own athletes, but to literally “host the world,” from aspiring youth snowsport athletes at the club and academy level to national team members, including Olympians, for the best early season training in the world. Ski & Snowboard Club Vail full-time athletes ages 10 and older are extremely fortunate to have this world class training venue right in their own backyard. They can go to school, be with their families, sleep in their own beds and avoid the incremental cost of airfare, lodging and lift tickets incurred by visiting club and academy athletes who travel to Golden Peak from around the globe in search of snow.
‘Best in the World’
You can imagine the inspiration provided to Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes when they train on Golden Peak this time of year alongside snowsport icons and role models like Ski & Snowboard Club Vail alumni Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Hall Of Famer Sarah Schleper, Heidi Kloser and newly minted U.S. Freestyle C Teamer Tess Johnson, Alpine D Team member River Radamus and National Uni Teamer Alex Leever.
These athletes all spent many hours as young, aspiring Ski & Snowboard Club Vail members on Golden Peak. They are now returning as national team members and Olympians for early season training at Golden Peak alongside the next generation of snowsport athletes. Dreams do come true at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, and there is nothing like training among the best in the world to inspire those dreams!
There will be no lack of activity on Golden Peak this month with as many as 12 race training lanes available during each of four 2.5-hour sessions daily beginning at 6:30 a.m. along with a mogul lane and a Nordic loop. Spectators are welcome to get a close up view of the world’s best ski racing athletes from the U.S. and Canada, Austria, France, Italy, Sweden and virtually every nation participating in World Cup.
NCAA Championship Teams, too
Visiting collegiate athletes are another source of inspiration for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes during early season training. College race teams, including Division 1 University of Denver, University of New Mexico, University of Utah, Harvard, Colby, St. Lawrence, University of Vermont and Middlebury, will be training on Golden Peak during the next month.
This creates a perfect opportunity for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail to host its second annual Collegiate Pathways Forum on Nov. 22 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Vail for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail parents and athletes as well as visiting athletes, coaches and parents who are in town for early season training.
The forum will feature a panel of collegiate alpine ski coaches from across the United States along with current college racers and recent graduates. The goal of the Collegiate Pathways Forum is to provide information on, allow Q-and-A time about and promote college ski racing as another exciting pathway for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes. Last year, more than 100 people participated in this informative forum, and we are looking forward to an even bigger turn out this year.
I am thrilled to see how Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s early season training initiative has evolved to support the Vail community, generating millions of dollars in retail, food and lodging revenue from thousands of visiting athletes, parents, coaches and technicians during the offseason.
It has also created early season employment opportunities for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and Vail Resorts staff. With U.S. and international “celebrity” athletes the likes of Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin, Julia Mancuso, Ted Ligety, Aksel Lund Svindal, Marcel Hirscher and Lara Gut training at Golden Peak as they make their way to World Cups in the United States and Canada, Vail is spotlighted around the world by visiting media including “60 Minutes,” ESPN, NBC, ABC, CBS, Eurosport, Associated Press and USA Today.
Whether from the visiting national, collegiate or academy teams searching for great training conditions, our local athletes benefiting from sharing the practice field with the sport’s professionals, social media and international press impressions for Vail or the many businesses seeing an uptick in November business; everyone benefits when Golden Peak turns white every November.