For only the third time in 60 years, the World Alpine Ski Championships will return to the United States and, more specifically, to Colorado's Vail Valley from Jan. 30 to Feb. 14. To international ski racers and fans, the biennial World Championships represent the Super Bowl of skiing, equal in prestige to the Olympics. For American fans, they represent one big party-besides the racing there are some 30 events, including rodeos, street parties, concerts and fireworks galore.
The big news for the Worlds is the new $5 million Birds Of Prey downhill course at Beaver Creek. Edith Thys, who competed in two World Alpine Ski Championships and is now SKI's senior contributing editor, hooked up with U.S. Ski Team standout Daron Rahlves to take you on a personal tour of the track. Step into the starting gate on page 110.
The last time the Worlds came to Vail in 1989, U.S. Ski Team member Tamara McKinney overcame injury to win gold in combined and bronze in slalom. The brightest U.S. hope this season also comes in slalom, in the form of Kristina Koznick, who was second overall in the 1998 World Cup slalom standings. Her story is on page 112.
NBC and ESPN plan to broadcast 22 hours of World Championships coverage, and they hope it sets a new standard for televised ski racing. Read about their strategy on page 112.
Today's young crop of U.S. skiers will have a tough time matching the U.S. performances in the past two World Championships, when Picabo Street and Hilary Lindh won the downhills. For a look at SKI's medal picks and top U.S. hopes, see page 113.
Are you contemplating a personal appearance in Vail during the Championships? Learn on page 113 why there may never be a better time to visit the Vail Valley.