VAIL — With less than two years to go until the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek, the International Ski Federation, United States Ski and Snowboard Association and the Vail Valley Foundation are working tirelessly to make sure the event goes off without a hitch.
Representative from each organization, as well as the organizers of this year's World Championships in Schladming, Austria, and organizers of the 2017 World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, were in Vail last week for another 2015 organizing meeting. This meeting also served as the official debrief of the 2013 Championships held in February in Schladming.
“Because it's a family, the ski world is, they were very honest and forthright about the things that worked and didn't work,” said Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation, the host for the 2015 championships. “Lots of it can translate here, some of it can't — like transportation, it wasn't an issue for (Schladming).”
Bill Marolt, president and CEO of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association, is part of the 2015 organizing committee. He looked around the room during lunch Friday and said everyone has been involved in ski racing for a long time.
“The leadership in the FIS always refers to the International Ski Federation as a family, as the FIS family,” Marolt said. “Where it really manifests itself is when you get together in this kind of situation where you've got the international federation but then the organizers who come together and really are open in sharing in what they did well and where they had problems. It's a business and yet it's fun. They really enjoy being with each other professionally and personally, so it's a special kind of a bond, a special kind of relationship.”
When you're planning an event as large as the World Alpine Ski Championships, that kind of relationship can be critical. An estimated 1 billion viewers will tune in to watch the championships on television, which is where 2015 television director Michael Koegler comes in.
During a typical World Cup race at Beaver Creek, the Birds of Prey race week, Koegler said there are about 15 or 16 cameras along the course. For 2015, there will likely be up to 46 cameras on the downhill course. Every piece of equipment will be state-of-the-art, he said. One slow motion camera, for example, can shoot 5,000 frames per second.
“You see every detail, every movement,” Koegler said.
The 2015 courses are fantastic, he said, but it presents another challenge for television because you want to be able to show that.
“It's such a great track — there's always a challenge to show how steep it is,” he said of the Beaver Creek downhill courses.
Television challenges were part of the conversations last week within the organizing committee, but Koegler is up for them. He's looking forward to 2015 because of the exposure it will bring to alpine ski racing, a sport that needs no explaining in Europe, but to Americans, it's not mainstream.
And with Lindsey Vonn dating Tiger Woods — assuming that's still the case in 2015 — it could bring more exposure to the sport from folks who might otherwise never have watched, Koegler thinks.
“These athletes are going more than 90 miles per hour, on steep hills, and only your body as protection and the helmet,” Koegler said. “I think this is the chance — Lindsey's dating Tiger — much more audience thinking about skiing; thinking ‘who's that girl' and they get into it.”
Because it\'s a family, the ski world is, they were very honest and forthright about the things that worked and didn\'t work