Alpine World Ski Championships Aim High
The Vail Valley Foundation, organizer of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail, Colorado, has managed some impressive feats while facing some equally impressive challenges getting people to and from the main venue at the Beaver Creek Resort. The championships mark the first time since 1999, and just the fourth time overall, that a U.S. destination has hosted the event. Vail has now hosted three of those (1989, 1999, 2015), with Aspen hosting the first such championships outside of Europe in 1950. Unlike previous world championships in Vail, however, the bulk of the skiing is taking place this year at Beaver Creek Resort, 10 miles west of the town of Vail. To accommodate the crowds, organizers have constructed a 7,500-seat stadium, nearly 30,000 square feet of hospitality tents and the largest video screen ever seen at a U.S. skiing event—all of it halfway up the mountain.
Transportation shuttles have been one of the keys to success, with free parking available in lots across the two resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek and shuttles leading to a central bus stop in the Beaver Creek Resort itself. From there, a secondary shuttle takes fans the last leg up to Red Tail Stadium. Over the first weekend of the two-week event, spectators topped an estimated 20,000 per day in unseasonably warm temperatures that have kept people coming to see the best skiers in the world. And the transportation has been running smoothly. Even still, for fans who don’t wish to take the final shuttle to or from the stadium, many chose to walk the route, or—at least on the way down—to ski it as well.
After each day of racing at Beaver Creek, the town of Vail has been serving as the late-night stop for medal ceremonies, free concerts and fireworks for the championships. Fans from around the world have been on hand to see their favorite skiers be rewarded for their efforts, filling what organizers call the Championships Plaza.
And back up the mountain, crowds have been entertained between races each day with colorful commentary and even Vail’s very own ski championship dancers.
And like the scene each night in Vail, spectators in the stands at Red Tail Stadium are also letting their loyalties be known.