A slight changeup is in the works at the 2017 edition of the Birds of Prey World Cup. This year the Vail Valley Foundation, U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Beaver Creek Mountain, and the International Ski Federation announced a new race lineup:
The downhill race, traditionally held on Friday, will move to Saturday, Dec. 2.
The super-G will move to Friday, Dec. 1.
The giant slalom race will hold its Sunday, Dec. 3, position in the lineup.
Beaver Creek has a winning feel for U.S. Ski Team downhiller Steven Nyman. He has collected three downhill podiums at the Birds of Prey World Cup races since 2006, and he’s a top contender once again on this formidable course. Nyman says it doesn’t matter the day of the week: his plan is to put everything he has into the only men’s speed events hosted on his home soil; pending, of course, how the 35-year old recovers from a left knee injury suffered in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, last January.
“Recovery is going well and I plan to be there and at the top of my game all week long,” said Nyman, one of the United States’ best speed-event skiers of all time. “Beaver Creek has been incredibly good to me over the years. I notched my first World Cup podium there, made some of my best results, and made some of my best memories there. I can’t think of a better way to lead into an Olympic year than charging for the podium again in Colorado.”
The U.S. Team will face formidable challenges from an international field expected to include legends like Austrians Hannes Reichelt and Matthias Mayer, Norwegians Kjetil Jansrud and Henrik Kristofferesen, Italians Peter Fill and Dominik Paris, Switzerland’ Beat Feuz, Frenchman Alexis Pinturault and more.
Birds of Prey World Cup race week has always been good to the U.S. Ski Team’s Ted Ligety, too. The giant slalom phenom has won six times in the past seven years on the course, making him one of the winningest racers ever at the famed Beaver Creek venue.
“Beaver Creek and the Talon Crew have always done an amazing job preparing the track for us, and it’s been a place where I’ve had a good amount of success, too,” Ligety said. “It’s an arcer’s hill, so you have to be really clean on the edge the entire way down. We spend most of our season skiing in Europe, so being able to ski on home snow again at Birds of Prey in front of family and friends will be huge for us as we kick off this big Olympic year.”
Six-time overall World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria is on the bubble. He is currently recovering from a broken left ankle and has ruled out skiing until after November, leaving the door open to possibly compete in the Birds of Prey races.
No matter the field, Americans are bound and determined to continue an historic streak of good results on their home turf.
“Birds of Prey is always a great weekend of racing for our athletes and will be a prime opportunity for fans to see Ted, Steven and the entire team in action prior to the Olympic Games,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw. “The men’s team had a very productive summer and is prepared to take on the world’s best in front of a home country crowd. The Talon Crew and Vail Valley Foundation do a fantastic job putting together a memorable event for the athletes and fans in support of alpine ski racing in America.”
The event will also serve as an up-close-and-personal look at the world’s most accomplished alpine skiers as they gear up for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games scheduled for PyeongChang Feb. 9-25.
Taken together with the Saturday downhill, race organizers from the Vail Valley Foundation are expecting an excellent in-person and television audience for the weekend-long event, which will air on NBC and NBC Sports Network Dec. 1-3 (find complete television schedule here).
“Fans of ski racing have been incredibly supportive during the 50-plus year history of the sport in Vail and Beaver Creek,” said Mike Imhof, President and CEO of the Vail Valley Foundation, which hosts the Birds of Prey event. “The new lineup is great news for the thousands of fans who come watch the races, as well as the large television audience the sport attracts, especially in an Olympic year.”
Attending the races is free and open to the public. Parking is available at the Beaver Creek base-mountain lots with free bus service to Beaver Creek and the race finish throughout the day. More information is available at www.bcworldcup.com.
Festival enters third year
For the third year in a row, the Vail Valley Foundation will also host the EverBank America’s Winter Opening festival, which features Birds of Prey Way festivities, live music, athlete signings, a ‘Line of Descent’ Warren Miller film screening, and the Beers of Prey beer tasting – all in Beaver Creek Village. More details on the Festival are available at www.AmericasWinterOpening.com.
America’s Winter Opening and the Birds of Prey World Cup race week are made possible through the Vail Valley Foundation’s partnerships with U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Vail Resorts, Beaver Creek Mountain, the International Ski Federation, the Beaver Creek Resort Company, the U.S. Forest Service, the Town of Avon, Everbank and Korbel.
Release from Vail Valley Foundation