World Cup to return to Birds of Prey

Chris Freud

Once week and four medals into the World Alpine Ski Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, the Americans are getting more good news. The World Cup is coming back to Birds of Prey in December.

Beaver Creek’s place on the World Cup calendar was in danger when the International Ski Federation (FIS) had moved the 2003 race from its traditional spot on the first weekend of December to Thanksgiving weekend.

But, after months of negotiating capped by a trip this week to St. Moritz to meet with FIS officials, all parties involved agreed to switch the downhill and super-G back to Dec. 6-7.

“We’re very excited that FIS agreed to change the schedule,” said Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation, the primary organizers of the event. “After this year’s success, we plan to expand World Cup weekend into a weeklong celebration, encouraging destination-overnight guests as well as welcoming new World Cup fans to Beaver Creek.”

The shift to Thanksgiving weekend, according to Folz and Beaver Creek Chief Operating Officer John Garnsey, would have caused logistical conflicts and raised questions about snow quality.

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“It would be very difficult for us to provide the hotel rooms, the meeting space and the space on the mountain that an event like this requires,” Folz said just before the races last year. “FIS has expressed the desire to come back to Birds of Prey and not miss a year. Everyone’s trying to work it out.”

That was achieved thanks to some aggressive lobbying and some international diplomacy, according Garnsey, who was with Folz, Beaver Creek vice president of operations Kurt Krieg and Pepi and Sheika Gramshammer this week in St. Moritz, lobbying for Beaver Creek.

“The key was not only Beaver Creek,” Garnsey said. “The key was that the French on behalf of Val D’Isere, and Bormio, (Italy) were pushing just as hard once they understood the ramifications of the schedule change. (FIS) couldn’t ignore all three of us.”

And, as a result, both Beaver Creek and the Vail Valley Foundation came out as winners from the negotiations. But likely the biggest beneficiary will be the U.S. Ski Team.

“It’s really important for the U.S. Ski Team to have an event like this on their home turf,” Garnsey said. “The downhill and super-g suits the style of Daron Rahlves, Bode Miller and also Marco (Sullivan) and Jake (Fiala). It just suits our team to have a home-town crowd in a world-class venue.”

Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at

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