FIS gives go-ahead for men’s World Cup ski races from Dec. 1 to 3 at Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK — The Beaver Creek Birds of Prey World Cup races received the official imprimatur of positive snow control from the International Ski Federation (FIS) on Friday.
In English, that means FIS officials went to the course on Friday, saw that it was in good shape and gave the go-ahead for this year’s alpine events in Beaver Creek starting on Nov. 28, after warm weather forced a cancelation of the races last year.
“The forecast was always in our favor,” said Tom Boyd, chief of media for the Birds of Prey World Cup races. “We started making snow in October. As to the extent that one can forecast out, the weather always looked good. The question was, ‘Will that forecast hold out?’”
It did for ski racing.
While Vail postponed its opening from Nov. 17 to Thanksgiving Day because of a lack of snow, the snow used to make the Birds of Prey racecourse is different than what most skiers at Vail and Beaver Creek like to ski on recreationally.
The best skiers in the world don’t like Colorado’s signature “champagne powder.” World Cup courses are designed to be icy and slick, and injected with water to amplify those affects. Natural snow isn’t required to build a course. Cold temperatures for man-made snow are.
Cooler temperatures have allowed for snowmaking on the Birds of Prey course, whose base is roughly at 8,900 feet at Red Tail Camp.
“It’s apples and oranges,” said Boyd of the difference between racing snow and the recreational surface. “We love snow from the sky, but if you ask racers, they like snow from the (snow) gun better.”
With positive snow control, the 2017 Birds of Prey slate is set. After racing in Lake Louise, Alberta, for a downhill and super-G during Thanksgiving weekend, the men’s circuit heads to Beaver Creek.
The racers will have two downhill training runs during a three-day period from Tuesday through Thursday, Nov. 28 to 30. The race weekend kicks off with super-G on Friday, Dec. 1, followed by the downhill on Saturday, Dec. 2, and giant slalom on Sunday, Dec. 3.
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There might be part of Hailey Swirbul that is finally beginning to believe she belongs. The 22-year-old cross-country skier is coming off quite a stretch with the U.S. ski team, one that includes her first career World Cup podium and a successful go in the notorious Tour de Ski stage race.