Leave it to the Beav
When Gunter Hujara, the director of the men’s alpine World Cup, said he had a very short speech after
a spectacular men’s downhill on Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey course, he was true to his word. He just
began clapping his hands, soon to be joined by some 150 coaches, volunteers, and officials. There was
ample reason for the ovation. The course was stunningly well prepared with only four one hundredths
separating the three on the podium. There was plenty of action and no major falls.
While this year’s event was not out of the ordinary for a Birds of Prey downhill — it has always been
among the top events of the circuit — this year’s effort is more critical as Beaver Creek and Vail are joining with USSA to bid for the 2015 Alpine World Championships. For alpine skiing in the United States,
securing the event is vital as it will become a focal point for competitive skiing, for the ski industry and
ski resort business over the next five years.
The International Ski Federation will award the Championships at its congress in June of next year.
Having USSA and its president, Bill Marolt, fully behind the bid is key. Over the past two world championship bid cycles, Vail and Beaver Creek took on the bid challenge seeking only token support
of the national governing body.
Both efforts failed to convince the
17 FIS council members of the resort’s merits. This effort takes on
more importance as neither the
United States nor Beaver Creek/
Vail can afford a third loss, especially following the astonishing
incompetence of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Chicago Olympic
bid. Politics plays the foremost
role in bid decisions at the international level. The quality of the bid means precious little, making an
amalgamation of persuasive assets brought by both USSA and Beaver Creek/ Vail imperative. With a
smart, well organized effort the bid for the 2015 Championships can be successful.
On the distaff side of the circuit, Aspen raised the bar with its World Cup effort by providing some
of the women’s most challenging terrain of the season and by energizing the town and getting out the
crowds. The interaction with the Aspen Ski Club contributed to the event as well. Unfortunately for
Aspen, the U.S. women failed to execute, once again leaving the country with a less than scintillating
performance. Course preparation also played too much of a role when an already difficult hill was injected per the dictates of the FIS and turned the slalom into a survival test rather than an example of
skill (see “Ice Not Nice,” page 9). Despite the uninspired women’s performance, Aspen’s effort deserves
applause. The resort provided a fun weekend and good, if difficult, racing.
There is no question that Lindsey Vonn is the best thing that has happened to skiing in the United
States. The more-than-talented athlete not only continued tearing up the Lake Louise downhill, scoring back-to-back wins and a silver, but also has become the best spokesperson the sport has seen on
this side of the Atlantic. Additionally in Lake Louise, by posting a terrific 10th place finish in her third
World Cup start, Alice McKennis showed Ski Racing editors that they should have awarded two Junior
of the Year titles last spring.
Ski Racing’s editors, videographers and photographers bring you a compendium of the North American segment of the World Cup beginning on page 14. Eric Williams writes about the absence of the
great Hermann Maier whose heroics thrilled audiences around the world (page 26). Enjoy it. Elsewhere in this issue, Bryce Hubner specs out the college circuits, bringing you the inside scoop on who
is going to be hot on the NCAA carnival circuit, and the state of the USCSA. He also talks with Bryn
Carey for Ski Racing’s Role Model feature about the Ski Butlers enterprise.
This issue is loaded with videos and photos. All our clients have live connections in their ads, so click
on them often and buy. While it is painful that the White Circus is so short-lived on this side of the
Atlantic, keep up with all the racing on our web site. Ski Racing will be updating the site constantly
make sure you have bookmarked www.skiracing.com to follow all the action.
Folks, it is an Olympic year. It is going to be a barn-burner. Enjoy every minute of it! — G.B. Jr.
The crowd at Beaver Creek.
PE TER Q. GRAVES
SALES AND MARKETING
GARY BLACK JR.
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Greg “Grande” Needell says he saw the Janka
sweep coming. Read his analysis of Beaver
Creek, Aspen and Lake Louise — as well as
other upcoming races — at SkiRacing.com.
The final countdown to the 2010 Games has
begun, and we are adding new polls, new videos
and, of course, race coverage at SkiRacing.com.