China looks to Birds of Prey for ski racing example before 2022 Olympics
EAGLE COUNTY — China is hard at work with 2022 Olympic preparations, which included sending a delegation to this year’s Birds of Prey World Cup races in Beaver Creek.
Tom Boyd with the Vail Valley Foundation said the group was looking into everything from transportation to the venue to setting up awards ceremonies for the winners. Being in charge of the media center and communications, Boyd became a source for information for the Chinese.
“They ended up basing out of the media center, but they talked to everyone,” Boyd said. “They went methodically through the entire operation, videotaped everything and asked a lot of questions.”
Boyd said they were happy to help as a service to the ski racing world — an example of proper event organization to be followed by all who should find themselves tasked with putting on a high level ski race.
“I believe, objectively, if you’re looking to come study how to put on a top class event, you want to come to Vail and Beaver Creek and see how we do it here,” Boyd said. “In an independent third party survey of athletes and coaches … we were ranked No. 1 overall by athletes and coaches as the best venue on the FIS Ski World Cup tour.”
More than a venue
It’s not the first time an Olympic committee has come to town to check out the operation.
In 2008, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympics visited Beaver Creek.
They would go on to have some challenges with their venue, which Boyd said everyone in the race world would learn from.
“When it comes to the venue, you have to work with what you got, but you can always do a good job of making sure the other things are taken care of well, and sometimes that just means getting people information about what’s going on with your venue at the time,” he said.
In that way, Boyd said with a laugh, perhaps Beaver Creek isn’t the best venue to learn from.
“There’s no doubt that we have one of the best downhill tracks in the world,” Boyd said. “That’s a big reason why we’re great, but there’s another level to it, too.”
Philosophy of service
Last year, when unseasonably warm weather pushed back the opening of Vail Mountain, the Birds of Prey World Cup was still able to go on, due to a heroic effort from all involved.
In being able to pull it off, Boyd said they were merely meeting expectations.
“We have a reputation, globally, of putting on one of the best events in the sporting world,” he said.
And while the Chinese don’t have a track like Birds of Prey to work with, they still may be able to put on a great event, if they get a few things right.
Boyd expects that they will.
“We have a volunteer corps here that’s pretty well unrivaled, and I think after vising here that may be one of the big questions on their mind — can we match that?” he said.
Boyd said speaking from his experience in China at the Youth Summer Olympic Games in 2014, he thinks the country can soar to Birds of Prey levels in their philosophy of service.
“I think they’ll do well in terms of service and volunteers, and I think they saw from us how important that is,” he said.
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Aspen is set to add to its Olympic heritage next month as three local athletes head to the Beijing Games. Halfpipe skiers Alex Ferreira and Hanna Faulhaber, as well as cross-country skier Hailey Swirbul, will head over soon, but before that a send-off party is set for Wednesday.