Vail Valley 5th-graders take in Birds of Prey races at Beaver Creek |

Vail Valley 5th-graders take in Birds of Prey races at Beaver Creek

Through the Vail Valley Foundation's YouthPower365 program and TIAA Bank, local fifth-graders were able to experience the Birds of Prey downhill race on Friday, Nov. 30. While some of them had been to the World Cup races at Beaver Creek before, it was the first exposure to ski racing for many.
Photos by Ross Leonhart |

BEAVER CREEK — With people watching on television and mobile devices across the world, a group of local fifth-graders had the best seats on the mountain for the Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup men’s downhill on Friday, Nov. 30.

“I think it’s important for them to realize what’s going on in their own community and what’s important to their own community,” Red Sandstone Elementary School teacher Lynn Bopeley said.

Through a $1,000 grant split between Red Sandstone and June Creek Elementary, fifth-graders from the local schools filled the grandstands at the finish area on a free field trip. All wearing their YouthPower365 hats, the Vail Valley Foundation’s educational program for valley youth, the kids cheered on the U.S. Ski Team racers as well as took note of spectacular crashes on the Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup course.

“We have a lot of kids who are ski racers and a lot of kids who aren’t exposed to ski racing, so it gives them a chance to see what it’s all about,” Bopeley said.

While some kids had never been to the World Cup event at Beaver Creek before, others were quick — and proud — to say that they had.

Family-Friendly Event

Besides the fastest men on skis, hitting top speeds of about 80 mph, the Birds of Prey experience at Beaver Creek has plenty for both adults and kids to enjoy.

The Raptor Education Foundation was on hand Friday with a live birds of prey on display. The foundation saves raptors that can’t be released back into the wild and provides educational opportunities.

Noisemakers make for easy entertainment around the finish area as well, especially the cowbells.

Down in Beaver Creek Village, there’s also plenty of family-friendly entertainment, including the ice rink. And on the mountain, Beaver Creek is enjoying one of its best starts to the season in recent years, and the mountain features beginner terrain off Red Buffalo Express.

As each American raced to the bottom of the downhill on Friday, the local students all enthusiastically started the chant of “USA.” It’s not every day they get to cheer on World Cup skiers in their own backyard.

Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984. And Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

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