Beaver Creek picks up more races | AspenTimes.com

Beaver Creek picks up more races

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Lindsey Vonn of the United States skis down the course during a training run for the Women's World Cup downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta, Wednesday Nov. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

ASPEN – France’s loss is Beaver Creek’s gain.

A men’s World Cup giant slalom and slalom, along with a women’s super G, will be held next week on Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey course due to lack of snow in Val d’Isere, France.

Four races were originally scheduled for Val d’Isere on Dec. 10 and 11. A women’s super-combined has been postponed.

Aspen Mountain was initially considered as an alternate site, along with Beaver Creek, for the Val d’Isere events. Throughout last weekend’s World Cup women’s events in Aspen, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and International Ski Federation officials discussed backup plans in case the course at Val d’Isere didn’t have enough snow.

Ultimately, race officials made the call to stick to the race schedule, moving World Cup action from North America to Europe. Temperatures dropped sufficiently at the French resort to make snow, and it appeared course preparations at Val d’Isere could proceed. On Wednesday, race coordinators in Beaver Creek announced three of the races would take place on Birds of Prey next week. The decision came too late to keep Aspen in the running.

“We needed to know on Sunday if they wanted to hold races here,” said Jeff Hanle, Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman, on Wednesday. “Their objective is always to stick with the schedule. They bought themselves as much time as they could, but by doing that, they took us out of the running.”

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Aspen Mountain, which hosted a women’s slalom and giant slalom last weekend, could have hosted the men’s slalom or giant slalom, but crews would have needed to fire up the snow guns to expand the course for a women’s super G, Hanle said. In addition, he said, some of the equipment in the finish area was dismantled and shipped elsewhere when officials decided to move forward with the Val d’Isere races.

Women’s World Cup events in Aspen and men’s races at Beaver Creek are typically the only races that take place in the United States before the race series moves to Europe. While the women were in Aspen, the men were racing in Lake Louise, Alberta.

The regularly scheduled men’s races at Beaver Creek begin Friday with a downhill followed by a super G on Saturday and giant slalom on Sunday. The women are racing this weekend in Lake Louise; downhill races are scheduled Friday and Saturday, with a super G on Sunday. U.S. racer Lindsey Vonn put down the fastest time in Tuesday’s downhill training at Lake Louise after pulling out of the slalom in Aspen Sunday because of lingering back pain.

The added races at Beaver Creek begin with a men’s giant slalom on Tuesday, followed by a women’s super G on Wednesday, and men’s slalom on Dec. 8.

This will be the first World Cup race for women on the Birds of Prey course, giving crowds there a chance to watch several hometown favorites. Vonn calls Vail home these days, and Sarah Schleper is also a Vail product, while Mikaela Shiffrin hails from Eagle-Vail.

“There’s a lot of excitement about having the races here,” said John Dakin, vice president of the Vail Valley Foundation. “Whether it’s Beaver Creek or it’s Aspen, we as the United States only get one shot at them a year. To have the opportunity to be able to pick up the additional races is icing on the cake for sure.”

Beaver Creek has secured the 2015 World Championships at Birds of Prey, and a new women’s racecourse is planned next to the existing Birds of Prey course, according to Dakin. A test run of sorts is expected in 2013, with women’s downhill and super G events, he said. Next week’s super G is an unexpected debut of the women on Birds of Prey, albeit on a different course than the one they will see in 2013.

janet@aspentimes.com