AVON — This year at Beaver Creek, guests will be able to visit the mountain as spectators before they can ride the lifts as skiers.
As the resort prepares to host two weeks of World Cup action along with their regularly scheduled public opening on Wednesday, crews have been working ’round the clock to prepare for the monumental week in front of us.
World Cup downhill training will begin on Tuesday at 10:45 a.m. and is free for the public to attend. That downhill course will be the full-length women’s “Raptor” course, a new World Championship venue that was only recently approved by the International Ski Federation snow inspectors.
“Getting it ready came right down to the wire,” Beaver Creek director of mountain operations Greg Johnson said on Friday. “We’re still finishing things off today and the next couple days out there ... but Mother Nature’s the one in charge, still, and Mother Nature’s been good to us this year.”
Cold temperatures allowed the resort to blow massive amounts of snow onto the course in the days leading up to the International Ski Federation inspection.
“We’re really, really lucky to have an awesome team of people working on our mountain and in all our departments to pull this whole thing off, from the opening of the mountain to all the races over the next couple weeks,” Johnson said. “The team was the most important thing in making it come together.”
In addition to cold temperatures, a new-and-improved snowmaking system on the Raptor course allowed for the intense preparations in recent weeks.
The Women’s Raptor races are test events for the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships, which Beaver Creek will host, but the snowmaking and the actual downhill course are not the only things being tested this week. A massive amount of fiber optic cable was buried during the course of the summer, allowing television crews to stream live, high-definition video out of the venue and onto screens all around the globe.
But had that downhill course not have been ready from top to bottom, (the original plan was to run the women down a hybrid course that would combine with the regularly used men’s downhill course), Raptor would not have been a true test event for some of the people who need it most — the broadcasters.
“For TV it’s really important — with a brand new trail that we’ve never held a race on — for them to figure out how they want to show the trail with their camera shots and their camera locations,” Johnson said Friday. “They’ll have a lot of technology available to them — different styles of cameras and different ways to position them to shoot the event — and we want the trail and the event to show as best as possible on TV so that it looks exciting, and we show what the terrain and athletes are doing as well as possible. So, it has been a critically important priority to really try and run the entire Raptor event down the entire downhill trail. We just didn’t know until literally a day or two ago that we thought we had a chance to succeed. That’s great news, and TV’s a huge part of this deal.”
Johnson said Beaver Creek installed roughly 500 strands of fiber optic cable on the hill for television broadcasting.
“That’s a permanent utility up on the mountain for all our future events, so that’s a big upgrade, and will be a great asset for the future,” he said.
MORE INDOOR SEATING
When the weather gets bad at Beaver Creek, indoor seating can become limited quickly.
But that may not be the case anymore, as this year the resort is unveiling the new Talons Restaurant at the base of the World Cup venue, which will seat 500 people inside. The restaurant that was previously in the Talons Restaurant’s place, Red Tail Camp, only had indoor seating for 100.
The general area between the Chair 9 Birds of Prey lift and the Chair 10 Grouse Mountain lift will now be known as the Talons area rather than the Red Tail Camp area.
The 17,000-square-foot restaurant will also host seating for 250 outdoors, as well as an indoor and outdoor bar and an outdoor smokehouse.
As the new building is situated lower down the hill than the original Red Tail Camp, it will offer easier access for skiers and snowboarders in the area.
And skiers and snowboarders in that area will also appreciate the new downhill course itself, as it made way for 17 acres of new skiable terrain at Beaver Creek with a run called Kestrel.
The Golden Eagle run is a part of the men’s downhill course, yet is groomed every Friday night for Saturday ski traffic during the season. The goal for this year is to do the same with Kestrel.
“It’s kind of a one-two package now, with two World Championship downhills side by side, that we’ll be grooming hopefully every week,” said Johnson. “Golden Eagle is one of our most unique, signature, most popular grooming products that we have at Beaver Creek — a double black diamond World Cup, World Championship downhill course groomed for the guests every Saturday. Our plan for this season is to up the grooming on the Raptor side of things as well for the guests every week once we get rolling into the season.”
“... It has been a critically important priority to really try and run the entire Raptor event down the entire downhill trail, we just didn’t know until literally a day or two ago that we thought we had a chance to succeed,” — Greg Johnson, Beaver Creek Director of Mountain Operations, on Friday.