Vail, CO, Nov. 16--Colorado ski resorts haven't been blessed with much natural snow, but that won't stop the International Ski Federation (FIS) from hosting World Cup ski races at Copper Mountain and Beaver Creek.
Men's and women's slalom and giant slalom races were originally scheduled for Park City, Utah, Nov. 18-21, but lack of snow forced the FIS to move the women's races to Copper Mountain, Nov. 19-20 and the men's races to Beaver Creek.
The men's giant slalom and slalom events will now be held at Beaver Creek, in addition to downhill and super-G races the resort already has scheduled. Beaver Creek is likely to host the giant slalom on Nov. 23, followed by the slalom on Nov. 24. Two days of downhill training will then take place with the downhill event scheduled for Nov. 27 and the super-G on Nov. 29.
All events will be held on Beaver Creek's Bird of Prey course, which was built specifically for hosting World Cup and World Championship races three years ago. Vail and Beaver Creek have held more World Cup events than any U.S. resort (53), dating back to the original season of the circuit in 1967.
"Vail and Beaver Creek have a tremendous history of stepping up at the last minute to pick up World Cup events from other venues," said Bill Marolt, president of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. "We have complete confidence in their abilities to host these four men's races this month."
Due to the additional World Cup races, Beaver Creek has pushed back it's opening date from Nov. 19 to the 24. "By moving the original schedule back slightly, we can prepare a better base of snow on the front side of the mountain and still present the World Cup events," said John Garnsey, chief operating officer of Beaver Creek Resort.
Guests planning on skiing at Beaver Creek Resort Nov. 19-24 will be offered complementary transportation to Vail, which is still scheduled to open Nov. 19. "Vail will have a good product for our guests to enjoy and this gives us a better window of time for races, and better product for our guests when Beaver Creek opens on Nov. 24," Garnsey added.
While the men head to Beaver Creek, the women's tour will stop nearby at Copper Mountain. FIS women's tour director Kurt Hoch gave his approval after a course tour at Copper Mountain, located 75 miles west of Denver on I-70, which at an altitude of 9,000 feet has been able to make enough man-made snow to host the event. The women's giant slalom will take place Nov. 19, and the slalom will be held Nov. 20. This will be the first time since 1976 that Copper has hosted a World Cup race.
"We're excited for our athletes to have the opportunity to race at Copper Mountain," said USSA Vice President-Athletics Alan Ashley, who accompanied Hoch on the inspection. "We appreciate the support of Copper Mountain to step in and keep these important races on the World Cup calendar in the United States."
Ski teams from the U.S., Canada and Europe have been training at Beaver Creek, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Loveland and Breckenridge for the past three weeks. Breckenridge just recently hosted the first two SuperSeries slalom races, which feature many of the top World Cup competitors preparing for races at Copper Mountain and Beaver Creek.
Meanwhile, a lack of snow in the Colorado Rockies has taken a toll on early-season reservations, according to many lodge owners in Vail. However, the World Cup ski races couldn't have come at a better time since more than 340 million viewers in Europe are expected to tune into the races and see that there is at least some snow on the slopes.
In addition, more than 5,000 fans are expected to attend the races, according to the Vail Valley Foundation, organizers of the Beaver Creek event. The races will also bring in more than 500 athletes, coaches, and officials filling hotel rooms that otherwise would remain empty.