Captured by the thrill of
Toast of the TOWN
With so much to celebrate for so many, the Beaver Creek Village festivities reached new heights at the 2019 Xfinity Birds of Prey.
A refreshed lineup of live music in Beaver Creek Village anchored a fun-filled weekend, including a warm Welcome Party at the Coyote Café, athlete signings, ‘Bloodies and Bluegrass’ Saturday and Sunday mornings, free skating sessions on the ice rink, fireworks, Warren Miller movie showings at the VPAC, a highly-successful silent disco, and more.
The combination of activities created a festive atmosphere in the Village that was just right for a quintessentially-Colorado celebration of sports and culture.
Many cheers were heard, and many toasts were raised. This is probably a contributing factor to one other item of note at the 2019 Xfinity Birds of Prey weekend: The Beers of Prey event, now in its fourth year of offering limited-edition and seasonal brews, sold out. For those who were lucky enough to get one of the commemorative Beers of Prey tasting glasses, we recommend you hold on to it. Next year at race time, and for many years to come, you can raise that special glass and toast victory to friends, good times, and the day Tommy Ford conquered the legendary Birds of Prey.
When Tommy Ford (USA) crossed
the finish line at the Xfinity Birds of Prey Giant Slalom, it triggered an eruption from the crowd like nothing the race had seen in years. It was volcanic, almost, as it burst outward. It was a roar that echoed down the mountains into Beaver Creek Village, into the Vail Valley, out to the world, and into the permanent lore of Audi FIS Ski World Cup history.
That morning Tommy Ford, 30, had won a first run of a World Cup Giant Slalom for his first time. Pressure reached its peak at the start of run two – but Ford remained calm, focused, meditative. He glided seamlessly through the course, transitioning from gate-to-gate with mastery, emitting zero sign that he carried the collective weight of all the nation’s bottled-up hopes and dreams on his skis. He skied without fear, he skied beautifully, and he skied his way into U.S. World Cup history, becoming the first American man to win since Ted Ligety in 2014.
Ligety was not far behind Ford, in 11th, a result that helped the American men to ten impressive top-25 finishes over the weekend: Travis Ganong (6th, Super G); Ryan Cochran-Siegle (18th, Super G & 6th, Downhill & 23rd Giant Slalom); Steven Nyman (17th, Downhill & 24th, Super G); and Jared Goldberg (22nd, Downhill).
The Xfinity Birds of Prey takes place on American soil, but it is a fundamentally international enterprise. The global impact from the event can be measured in many ways: perhaps the most striking is through media exposure, where it brings television views from more than 100 million in more than 32 nations. Many thousands came to view the event in person, too, creating the largest crowds in recent memory. In addition, 135 on-site members of the media (and more watching from afar) delivered tens of millions of engagements through traditional and social media. All of it, collectively, gives the world a view into the wonders of our Rocky Mountain community.
This also creates intense competition to step into the limelight. Switzerland, perhaps more than any other nation, had much to cheer for: They saw victory in the Super G from the incredibly talented up-and-comer Marco Odermatt, and a win in downhill from perhaps the best skier on the World Cup circuit, Beat Feuz. Norway, France, and Austria also had phenomenal weekends, taking the remainder of podium spots.
As each top-finisher recounted their runs at the post-race press conference, they all had similar positive comments to share with the media: that the course, the atmosphere, the overall experience at Xfinity Birds of Prey is among the best in the world.
It’s a well-earned reputation. FIS Ski World Cup racing began in the Vail Valley in 1967. Since 1983, the Vail Valley has consistently hosted top-tier races, including three FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in 1989, 1999, and 2015, and Birds of Prey since 1997. It takes the collective work of a well-bonded community to build a legacy of this kind, and we are grateful to our volunteers, supporters, fans, and partners: the FIS, United States Ski and Snowboard, Vail Resorts, the Beaver Creek Resort Company, Beaver Creek Resort, Xfinity, TIAA Bank, and many more, who all who come together to make this global event a reality each year.
Birds of Prey
By the Numbers
It is always such a pleasure to ski the Birds of Prey. That upper section of the Super G is my favorite section of any race on the World Cup. Winning at home in front of that crowd with friends and family around is surreal.
Tommy Ford electrified U.S. ski racing with his GS victory, and we saw fantastic results from all our racers. The Vail Valley Foundation leads a world-class race here, they are truly a valued partner, and I think there is part of it where the culture of excellence embedded in this race helps inspire everyone, from course workers to volunteers to athletes, to perform at their highest level.
Birds of Prey serves as a cornerstone event for Beaver Creek and bolsters business in Beaver Creek Village. Everyone in the business community and beyond comes together to support this great event, the quality and execution of it is something that we can all be proud of, and it creates a strong, positive, ripple effect for all of us.