Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup returns to Beaver Creek in December |

Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup returns to Beaver Creek in December

The weekend of racing marks a major step on the way to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing

Vail Daily staff report
The Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup races will return to Beaver Creek Dec. 3-5, 2021.
Agence Zoom/Courtesy photo

VAIL — If ski racing fans are feeling the need for speed, they will get a triple-dose of it when the Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup returns to Beaver Creek Resort this Dec. 3 to 5.

The nonprofit Vail Valley Foundation, which hosts the Xfinity Birds of Prey races each year, confirmed the men’s Beaver Creek World Cup schedule as follows:

Friday, Dec. 3: Super-G

Saturday, Dec. 4: Downhill

Sunday, Dec. 5: Super-G

The men’s World Cup calendar has not yet been fully confirmed. FIS will confirm in September. Beaver Creek race times to be determined.

All events will be streamed and broadcast live on the networks of NBC Sports.

The races are part of a return of the North American leg of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup tour, including:

Nov. 27-28: HomeLight Killington Cup, USA, Women’s Slalom and Giant Slalom

Nov. 27-28: Lake Louise, Canada, Men’s Downhill and Super-G

Dec. 3-5: Lake Louise, Canada, Women’s Downhill and Super-G

‘Back at one of the best courses in the world’

American Ryan Cochran-Siegle is one of many racers excited to return to the Birds of Prey course at Beaver Creek Resort, which is known worldwide for its steep pitch, high speeds and demanding turns.

“We can’t wait to be back at one of the best courses in the world, here on home soil,” said Cochran-Siegle, who was ranked third overall in the world in downhill before he was sidelined by an injury sustained at the Hahnenkamm in Kitzbuehel, Austria, in January for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. “I have this date circled on my calendar. We all love Birds of Prey. It’s everything from the track to the people to the volunteers to the general environment and history of U.S. Ski Team success at Beaver Creek that make this return to home soil something all of us are highly anticipating.”

The weekend of racing marks a major milestone on the way to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games Feb. 4-20, 2022, in Beijing, and serves as a qualifying event for athletes to earn points and placements toward their nomination to the 2022 U.S. Olympic Ski Team.

“We could not be more thrilled to once again welcome the world back to the iconic Birds of Prey course here in Beaver Creek,” said Mike Imhof, President of the Vail Valley Foundation.

Athletes to watch

Among the racers to beat on Saturday’s downhill will likely be Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway, who was the 2020 World Cup overall downhill champ and was leading in the downhill standings and second in the overall standings this past season before he was injured. He will have to fend off Beat Feuz (SUI), who edged out Matthias Mayer (AUT) and Dominik Paris (ITA) to take the overall World Cup downhill title in the amended 2020 season.

Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT) won the overall super-G crystal globe and placed fourth overall in downhill cup standings and is anticipated to lead the charge on Friday and Sunday’s super-G. He will likely have to fend off top American racers Cochran-Siegle and Travis Ganong, as well as a host of challengers including Kilde, Marco Odermatt (SUI), Matthias Mayer (AUT), and Mauro Caviezel (SUI).

“Beaver Creek Resort is proud to host Birds of Prey, and we’re excited to showcase our world-class steep terrain and unrivaled hospitality,” Beaver Creek Resort COO Nadia Guerriero said. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for our resort and community to welcome some of the world’s best athletes on their journey to the 2022 Winter Olympics.”

The Xfinity Birds of Prey – and the entire North American leg of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup tour – was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In years past, the weekend in Beaver Creek has typically featured a giant slalom race on Sunday, but this year’s Audi FIS Ski World Cup calendar is designed to minimize potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus by reducing the participants on site. Therefore, speed and tech event groups are being mixed as little as possible.

“In the nearly two years since the first appearance of the virus, we’ve had time to develop sound procedures and protocols,” Imhof said. “We are working closely with the FIS, U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Vail Resorts, Beaver Creek Resort, Eagle County Public Health and all our other wonderful partners to ensure that we can host these beloved races and that athletics, fans, partners, media and volunteers can all enjoy and attend the event in as safe and comfortable a manner as possible.”

‘Beers of Prey’ on tap

The Vail Valley Foundation said it is planning music, giveaways, sponsor activations, “Birds of Prey Way” in Beaver Creek Village, and a wide array of celebratory ancillary events, including the highly-popular “Beers of Prey” tasting event, throughout race weekend. Details will be announced this autumn.

Health and safety policies will be in place

With some international travel restrictions still in effect, Beaver Creek and The Vail Valley Foundation continue to work with all appropriate parties ahead of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup. The health and safety of guests, staff and athletes is a top priority, organizers said, and as the ski racing community returns to hosting international events, heightened health and safety protocols will be in place, as needed, during the Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup. Event protocols will comply with local health and safety measures, as well as those mandated by FIS, and may be modified based on evolving standards, public health, and governmental directives.

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