The world’s best alpine skiers will take to the hill next week at Beaver Creek as FIS World Cup competition invades the Vail area for two weekends of racing.
It will be the U.S. Alpine Ski Team’s only opportunity to compete on home turf prior to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February.
Beaver Creek and other World Cup race results will be important factors in the qualification process for the final selection of U.S. Olympic Team.
U.S. standouts Ted Ligety and 18-year-old Vail phenom Mikaela Shiffrin are already off to strong starts this season. Ligety took first place in the first GS competition of the season in Soelden, Austria, earlier this year, and Shiffrin claimed first in slalom with a dominating performance in Levi, Finland.
It was announced Thursday that four-time World Cup overall champion Lindsey Vonn will miss the competition in Beaver Creek after reinjuring her surgically repaired knee earlier this week during a training run.
The World Cup races will feature men’s and women’s competitions in downhill, super G and giant slalom, on consecutive weekends, starting with the women’s downhill Nov. 29.
The World Cup races will also serve as a sneak peek at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships set for Vail-Beaver Creek in February 2015.
Olympian medalists Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso will also headline the list of U.S. Ski Team members to partake in next week’s competition. Miller returned to competition this year after taking last season off to fully recover from surgery.
The new venue
In preparation for hosting the 2015 world championships, Beaver Creek has added terrain that will be a part of the new women’s downhill Raptor course to be featured for the first time in next week’s World Cup races. Beaver Creek announced Thursday that the full women’s course will be used. Initial plans were for the women to use a course that included sections of the men’s course. Beaver Creek officials credited early snowfall and snowmaking for making it possible to open the full course in time for World Cup competition.
“It’s incredible they were able to get our full course up and running,” Mancuso said of the announcement. “We know how hard it is to prepare a hill this early in the season, so thanks, Beaver Creek. Raptor will be difficult and a good challenge for the first race of the season.”
The course includes 17 new acres of skiable terrain built over the last two years.
The men will compete on the Birds of Prey course the following week, starting with super G, Dec. 6.