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Welcome to skiing’s Final Four

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado
BOP Nyman SC PU 11-29-07
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On Thursday, one already-famous ski area will be able to add yet another tally to a long list of world-class events.

On the final day of the 2008 International Ski Federation Congress, the FIS Council will choose between Beaver Creek/Vail; Schladming, Austria; Cortina, Italy, and St. Moritz, Switzerland, to host the 2013 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships.

All four sites regularly host World Cup races and also already have hosted the World Championships at least once. Oh, and two have hosted Olympic races. By the numbers, each site can claim to have a certain edge ” whether one hasn’t hosted in the longest period of time or another hasn’t hosted as many times ” but none of that may matter in the council’s secret vote.

Before delving into the specific sites, let’s visit some basic World Championships history.

The first event was held in Murren, Switzerland, in 1931 and was held yearly up until 1940, when there were no games. After the 1941 World Championships, there wasn’t another contest until 1948, when the Olympics took the place of the World Championships. The World Championships picked up again in 1950 when they made their American debut in Aspen. From 1950 to 1982, the official World Championships were held every four years, as were the Olympics, which served as the World Championships and were staggered two years from the official World Championships.

In 1985, the World Championships picked up again in Bormio, Italy, and have been a biannual occurrence since then, except when they were postponed in 1995 due to lack of snow.

The last time the World Championships were held outside Europe (including Scandinavia) was in 1999, when they were at Vail/Beaver Creek.

“It’s important that the World Championships move around the globe ” we are an international federation,” said Bill Marolt, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association CEO and one of 17 FIS Council members.

Chile is the only other Western Hemisphere country to host the World Championships, which it did in 1966 in Portillo.

Vail/Beaver Creek (which is now Beaver Creek/Vail as the majority of the races in 2013 would take place in Beaver Creek) first hosted in 1989 and then again in 1999. Beaver Creek was supposed to be the site of the 1976 Olympics, which were initially awarded to Denver but then were voted down by state taxpayers. Beaver Creek hosts a full week of men’s World Cup races every year.

Schladming hosted the World Championships in 1982, and hosts a night slalom on the World Cup circuit.

St. Moritz has hosted the World Championships four times: in 1934, 1948 (at the Olympics), 1974 and 2003. A regular stop on the World Cup for the past decade, St. Moritz now hosts a week of women’s races.

Cortina has hosted three World Championships, first in 1932, again in 1941 and then at the 1956 Olympics. For almost 15 years, Cortina has been a weeklong stop of the women’s World Cup.

The World Championships have 11 total events ” all five regular alpine disciplines (slalom, giant slalom, super-G, downhill and combined) as well as a coed Nations team event.

Following the story

Stories in the Vail Daily this week on the 2013 World Alpine Ski Championships:

Tuesday: How Beaver Creek/Vail has progressed since entering the fray.

Wednesday: How the decision process for the World Championships works.

Thursday: How much of a chance does Beaver Creek/Vail have?

Friday: The decision, reaction.

Sports writer Ian Cropp can be reached at icropp@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2935.


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