Letter: Wonderful World Championships
Wonderful World Championships
Editor’s note: The following letter originally was addressed to Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation.
The 2015 World Alpine Championships are over but certainly will not be forgotten. In my wildest dreams they exceeded any expectations. This two-week Vail/Beaver Creek “happening” took alpine ski racing to another level.
• The on-mountain preparation of the racecourses was ideal.
• The number of hometown volunteers brought everyone into the mix. They added so much to the World Championships.
• Older ski racers and officials (including myself) felt we were welcome, and we all had a great time.
• Concerts and award ceremonies livened up the entire two weeks.
• My old friends from Europe didn’t go to bed before 2 a.m. after visiting the Swiss, German, Austrian, French and U.S. ski team houses! I continue to get positive feedback from them.
• The spectators brought the events to a new level. They cheered and enjoyed the races. Stands were full way in advance of each event.
• The men’s downhill coverage showed speed, and the replays were fantastic. Non-ski-racing viewers saw our sport in a different way, unlike the usual coverage (some say ski racing is boring, but this showed it can be exciting). Bode Miller played an unfortunate role with his hard fall just seconds before possibly winning the super-G event. He showed how tough our sport can be.
• The U.S. Ski Team stepped up with excitement and success. New CEO Tiger Shaw is right on, and we welcome him to our team. A friend commented that Tiger listens to too many people, but I fully embrace his attitude. He is moving forward with more kids in local programs, support for college ski racing and more World Cup/international events in the U.S. It will take time to reduce racer costs, but with all of us behind him, he and his staff will get it done.
• The team event was a big hit. Maybe U.S. viewers don’t know many of the racers’ names, but they do understand one against one and the country names. This is great for U.S. viewers. We need more!
I made a comment to Sarah Lewis, secretary-general of the International Ski Federation, that it has ignored the U.S., and she gave me the party line that better support is on its way (we’ll see)! I also mentioned that the Vail/Beaver Creek World Championships were the best I have ever seen in alpine ski racing. Her reaction: “Yes, in the U.S.” My answer: “No, Sarah — the best ever worldwide in the history of our sport!”
In short, I have many great memories with a variety of events in Vail, starting over Christmas 1962, when we brought 100 young racers for a downhill training camp when Vail opened. We had a downhill race, but there was very little snow, and the entire run was only a few hundred feet long. CBS was on hand to televise it, but it snowed overnight before the event, and the CBS cameras were blown out. We really wanted the TV publicity. Times have really changed, but my many memories continue. You and your staff have taken FIS ski racing and the U.S. Ski Team to a greater height!
I am so proud of you and everyone involved, and so would the early Vail founders. I wish they had seen this.
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