A funny thing happened on the way to the World Championships.
For starters, the FIS changed the calendar, moving the women’s test events from the second week
in December to the last week in November, Thanksgiving week.
So what exactly is the effect of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy the night before a
World Cup downhill race? We’re going to find out on Nov. 29, as the women of the world take
their first competitive dive down Raptor, the new 2015 World Championship speed track at Beaver
By moving the women’s races up by two weeks, the FIS made it impossible for Beaver Creek to
offer both complete men’s and women’s World Cup downhill courses, as organizers had originally
intended. Instead, officials prepared a hybrid course that runs down the top part of the women’s
track, Raptor, and the bottom part of the men’s track, The Birds of Prey.
However, the best-case-scenario option, which local organizers just announced they are able to
move forward with, sends the ladies down the full length of Raptor.
Beaver Creek’s ability to pull it off — 100 percent of the ladies’ course and roughly 60 to 70 percent
of the men’s — is a testament to their professionalism and state-of-the-art operation that has long
been considered the best in the world. They got some help from Mother Nature, too, who provided good, cold, early-season temperatures to aid in the snowmaking process.
“It’s going to feel just like the
men’s trail in certain ways,” said
course designer Greg Johnson.
“It will start off with a flat section
of gliding, and then all of sudden, like at The Brink, it gets very
The course will bypass the
men’s Golden Eagle, as originally planned, and keep right toward
the new section of trail, called
Kestrel, which is wide open with
rolls, fall-away turns and other interesting features.
Organizers said from the begin-
WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: A LOOK AHEAD The women’s downhill at Beaver Creek,
Raptor, is now
be run top-to-bottom as
Leanne Smith charges the upper part
of Raptor in training last spring.