For the third time, Vail and Beaver Creek will host the World Alpine Ski Championships in 2015. The “Worlds” are the Super Bowl and the World Series of Alpine ski racing, even more important than the Winter Olympics where skiing is only one of many sports. Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey course-built for the 1999 Worlds- is one of the most difficult on the men’s World Cup circuit.
I remember well when Vail/Beaver Creek hosted in 1989 and 1999. The first year, I was there on crutches from a ligament pull I suffered in Telluride the week before. But that didn’t keep me from attending the outdoor opening ceremonies called “A Night of Dreams.” It was New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July all rolled into one magical night. The Colorado Children’s Chorale sang “When You Wish Upon a Star” while thousands of balloons bearing cards with wishes of children from Crans-Montana, Switzerland-site of the previous championships; Vail, and Saalbach, Austria, where the 1991 Worlds were scheduled-were released. Attached to each balloon was a green glo-stick that sparkled with the stars as they floated into the clear night sky.
This was followed by the parade of athletes, and then an entertainment extravaganza that began with a 200-skier torchlight parade down Golden Peak. Then came a choreographed production by 40 rhythmic gymnasts and music distinctively American including the World Championship Fanfare, composed by John Williams who created the themes from Stars Wars and Indiana Jones movies. An awe-inspiring lazer show on the mountain and the best fireworks show ever were highlights of the unforgettable evening.
In 1999, I remember the opening ceremonies missed the mark. It was a sort of rodeo-meets-Las Vegas campy production, and I and many of the other spectators were disappointed. Let’s hope the Vail/BC creative teams come up with an over-the-top event in 2015 like the first one!