Saturday, April 19, 2014

Vail-Beaver Creek 2015: Preparing A World-Class Mountain

A behind the scenes look at the construction of the Women's Downhill Course for the 2015 World Alpine Ski Racing Championships.
The "Raptor" Downhill course was built just to the east of Birds of Prey on similar terrain. Birds of Prey was built for the 1999 world championships and has been a men's World Cup stop ever since.
The "Raptor" course was built adjacent to the men's course for women's races at the 2015 world championships. Top speeds exceeded 75 mph, and racers found it challenging technically and mentally.
Since it debuted in December 1997, the "Birds of Prey" men's downhill course here has been acclaimed as one of the most technically demanding tracks in the world. Its sister course appears destined for the same sort of reputation.
Prior to construction of the Birds of Prey, the Vail Valley was a regular women's World Cup stop, but they raced over at Vail.
"There has obviously been considerable discussion about what the ladies’ course would be named", explained Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation and president of the 2015 World Championships organizing committee. "Given its proximity to Birds of Prey, the natural inclination was to try to find a name that would be both complementary and that could stand alone. We definitely feel that Raptor is a name that works well with Birds of Prey and, given the majesty of the raptor family, I think we have accomplished both goals".
The term "raptor" is derived from the Latin word rapere, meaning to seize or take by force. The birds in this family have well developed senses, especially vision, and large, powerful talons and beaks that aid them in hunting their prey.
Raptor symbols are also very special to Native Americans, with their ability to soar above the clouds, perhaps to the heavens, and their sense of freedom serving as a source of inspiration. Because of their amazing power of flight, many raptors are revered as bringers of messages and symbols of change, their feathers having many spiritual & ritual uses.

The new Beaver Creek ladies’ speed course has been constructed over the course of the past two summers in anticipation of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. The new Downhill course incorporates portions of Peregrine and Golden Eagle, along with two new cuts that have been dubbed Kestrel on the trail map. The course, located skier’s right of Birds of Prey, will join the men’s course at the Red Tail Jump and flows into the current finish arena.

"It’s challenging to say the least", offered U.S. Ski Team downhiller Stacey Cook. "It’s narrow and in your face. We’re right up against the fences and there’s a lot of forces to deal with, particularly high speeds combined with big turns, which is something that doesn’t get combined very often in women’s downhill. You’re going to have to be really strong to be fast".
Raptor took its first official test on November 29-December 1 when the Women’s World Cup came to Beaver Creek for Downhill, Super-G and Giant Slalom competitions.

The 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek are scheduled from February 2-15. The event is expected to showcase athletes from over 70 nations, along with an onsite media and broadcast entourage of approximately 1,500 members. An international television audience approaching 750 million people will watch the two weeks of racing and festivities.
Ladies' and Men's Downhill Events will take place on February 6th and 7th, 2015 in Beaver Creek.
Vail Resorts, the leading mountain resort operator in the United States, operate the mountain resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek in Colorado.

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