FIS cancels 2020-21 North American ski races, including Beaver Creek, Killington

Ross Leonhart
Vail Daily
Spectators cheer American ski racers at the 2006 Birds of Prey World Cup race at Beaver Creek. Vail and Beaver Creek have submitted a bid for the 2015 skiing world championships.
Vail Daily file photo

After discussions among FIS, the National Ski Associations and the Local Organising Committees in Canada and the USA together with their stakeholders, all parties have together decided that the Alpine World Cup tours will not travel to North America in late November for their traditional two-week competitions, including the annual Birds of Prey men’s ski races at Beaver Creek.

“The desire and motivation to hold these races as scheduled for all parties was strong,” said Markus Waldner, FIS men’s chief race director, in a news release Thursday morning. “The training set-up and races in USA and Canada are very much appreciated by the teams. But ultimately, the unique logistics and situation for the early season alpine races has current travel restrictions and corresponding quarantine regulations in both directions, which led to this joint decision.”

For the men, this impacts the speed weekend in Lake Louise, Canada, on Nov. 25-29 and both speed and tech events at Beaver Creek on Dec. 1-6. The World Cup will return to these sites for the 2021-22 season. For the women, this schedule shift impacts the Killington (USA) giant slalom and slalom events on Nov. 28 and Nov. 29 and the speed week in Lake Louise (CAN) on Dec. 1-6.

In the news release, FIS cited “protecting health and welfare of all participants to the best extent possible” as its objective with the decision.

“North America’s skiing community has tremendous spirit and resolve, and while we are saddened that, this year, we will not be able to gather in person to witness the iconic feats of athleticism that are the hallmark of the legendary Xfinity Birds of Prey, it is clear this decision is in the best interest of the health and safety of the world cup athletes, coaches, technicians, volunteers, media, staff, all of the World Cup fans, and the World Cup tour itself,” said Mike Imhof, president of the Vail Valley Foundation, which serves as the LOC for the Xfinity Birds of Prey races in Beaver Creek. “We look forward to welcoming the world back to Beaver Creek in December 2021, and thank all of our partners for their hard work, thoughtful discussion, and unity throughout this process.”

The Vail Valley Foundation has helped host the annual World Cup races for decades, and led the hosting of three Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek in 1989, 1999 and 2015.

“Each year, the North American leg of the World Cup tour is a time for our alpine skiing community to shine, not only because of the incredible achievements of our athletes, but in the work of our organizers, our course-builders, our staffers and our volunteers, who never fail to put on spectacular events,” said Tiger Shaw, president and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard, in a news release. “We look forward to the time when we can do that again, but our team, our athletes, know that their fans are still behind them, cheering for them all the way during this difficult time.”

The FIS statement said: “Decisions for all other FIS World Cup sanctioned sports will be made independently based on an assessment of each unique set of circumstances, including the risks and travel requirements related to each event and host country, as well as time needed between competitions to accommodate for COVID-19 protocols.”

Nadia Guerriero, vice president and COO of Beaver Creek Resort, host mountain for the event, agreed that the cancelation is in the best interest of all parties.

“We very much appreciate our partnership with the Vail Valley Foundation and their decision to prioritize the health and safety of all the athletes, coaches, employees, volunteers and many more who support Xfinity Birds of Prey. We look forward to welcoming back the event in December 2021,” Guerriero said in a news release.  

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