Beaver Creek, Vail lose Worlds bid
Aspen, CO Colorado
CAPE TOWN, South Africa ” Maybe the third time will be the charm for Beaver Creek and Vail.
Thursday, at the International Ski Federation’s 2008 Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, Beaver Creek/Vail lost out on its bid to host the 2013 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships.
The 16-member FIS Council awarded the event to Schladming, Austria, which was the runner-up in voting for the 2009 and 2011 World Championships.
The Austrian resort easily won Thursday, picking up 10 votes in the first round.
Beaver Creek/Vail, which was also a candidate for the 2009 World Championships, picked up four votes. The other two finalists, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, and St. Moritz, Switzerland, each received one vote.
Representatives from the Vail Valley Foundation entered Beaver Creek/Vail into the fray more than a year ago, and considered the bid to be a dark horse. But heading into Thursday’s vote, Beaver Creek/Vail was one of the front-runners, alongside Schladming.
“It’s disappointing,” said John Dakin, vice president of communications for the Vail Valley Foundation. “I think we made up a lot of ground in the last year, and we were right there. When it came down to it, people decided to go elsewhere.”
Schladming hosted the 1982 World Championships and holds a night slalom every year. Austrian resort St. Anton hosted the 2001 World Championships.
Dakin said the Vail Valley Foundation will put up Beaver Creek/Vail for the 2015 World Championships. Beaver Creek hosts the Birds of Prey, a week-long stop on the World Cup, after Thanksgiving.
“We congratulate Schladming, and now we’ll refocus on 2015,” he said. “We think [the World Championships] is something that can be a real benefit to the community. We saw a lot of interest and backing for this bid, so this is something that I think we feel is worth pursuing.”
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, which partnered with the Vail Valley Foundation for the 2013 bid, will push for the Beaver Creek/Vail bid again in 2015.
“Together with Beaver Creek/Vail, our focus will now turn to 2015 when we hope that the FIS will choose to come to America to showcase the sport in its largest global marketplace for the first time in 16 years,” USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt said in a press release.
While the Beaver Creek/Vail contingent watched FIS President Gian-Franco Kasper deliver the news live, a group of about 30-40 gathered at the Vail Valley Foundation offices in Avon, while others watched a live webcast.
“I was a little surprised it happened on the first ballot,” said Tony O’Rourke, executive director of the Beaver Creek Resort Company.
Patrick Jaerbyn, a World Cup skier and Edwards resident who has competed in many World Championships, was disappointed that FIS selected yet another European site.
“I don’t agree with that,” Jaerbyn said. “We have so many races over there and the World Championships [will have] been in Europe the past seven times. It’s not what’s best for skiing. … It should be the World Championships, not the European Championships.”
From 2001, when the World Championships were in St. Anton, through the 2013 Schladming Championships, the FIS has awarded the World Championships to European candidates. The last time the World Championships was outside of Europe was in 1999, when they were in Beaver Creek/Vail.
Before Beaver Creek/Vail hosted first hosted the World Championships, in 1989, the previous times other Western Hemisphere sites hosted was in 1966 in Portillo, Chile, and Aspen in 1950, while the 1980 Lake Placid (N.Y.) Games and 1960 Squaw Valley (Calif.) Games served as the World Championships for those years.
“If you are going to call it the World Championships, you need to move it around the world,” Dakin said. “You need to move it to North and South America and Asia and New Zealand and Australia because you are not going to have increased skier numbers in Central Europe.”
When Beaver Creek/Vail was a candidate to host the 2009 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships, the Vail Valley Foundation’s bid included an unprecedented trio of championships, including alpine, snowboarding and freestyle.
“We had to abandon the triple bid and go with just the alpine,” Dakin said. “We went into the presentation knowing we didn’t have much of a shot. Going into [Thursday], I think we felt we had a legitimate shot. It’s unfortunate we came out on the wrong end of the numbers.”
Dakin said that not submitting a bid for the 2011 World Championships might have been a factor in Thursday’s decision, but he thought the Vail Valley Foundation put together a really strong bid for 2013, with several innovative measures.
“Looking back in the short term, I don’t know there’d be a whole lot I’d want to change,” Dakin said. “We’re the only ones talking about a bigger picture other than two weeks of championships. And we talked about having a big impact on the whole ski industry. I think we opened a lot of people’s eyes as to what this event could be, and the impact it could have.”
O’Rourke thinks all the work the Vail Valley Foundation put in can be seen as a bit of an investment into the future.
“The good news is this pretty-well positions the Beaver Creek/Vail bid for 2015,” he said. “It’s still a disappointment because there is an awful lot of effort put in by [Vail Valley Foundation President] Ceil Folz and her staff, not the least of which is a lot of money.”
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