After a one-year hiatus the Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup returned to Beaver Creek. The athletic performances on the mountain were as awe-inspiring as the comradery and community on display throughout the event. At the 2021 Xfinity Birds of Prey, we united to create a positive impact during a very important time year for all of us in the Vail Valley.
Xfinity Birds of Prey
Impact By the Numbers
Not your ordinary
Alpine ski racers like to be on the edge. It’s their comfort zone.
Add a tremendous amount of speed, freezing temperatures, an icy racecourse, world-class athletes, roaring crowds, and a whole lot of vertical, and it all adds up to a state of bliss for the world’s best ski racers.
Much like people, each race venue on the World Cup tour has its own personality. Year after year, the top men’s alpine ski racers, and the teams, coaches, and officials who travel with them, rank Xfinity Birds of Prey in Beaver Creek as their favorite stop on the tour.
They must like our personality.
The feeling is mutual. The Vail Valley has a World Cup racing history that dates back to 1967, the very first year of the tour. Since 1981, the Vail Valley Foundation has been the entity that has led the charge in international ski racing – backed by a community that cares deeply for the sport, and understands the value it brings in terms of culture, history, positive economic impact, and more.
Among the thousands of people who come together to create Xfinity Birds of Prey the pervading mentality is that creating a quality experience is not enough. The goal is to make it the best experience in the world for everyone who takes part.
With that in mind it’s no surprise that the 2021 return of World Cup racing to Beaver Creek elicited such a remarkable response from race fans and the racing community as a whole. In a year when mild temperatures made course-building challenging, Beaver Creek Mountain Ops and the volunteer Talon Crew combined to create a pristine course, ideal for racing.
Saturday's Downhill was absolutely perfect; 19 venues and 44 races on the Men's FIS Ski World Cup Tour, and it doesn't get any better than that.
We needed that. You see a guy up there on the podium, it fires us all up.
Photo carousel 1: Travis Ganong carves down the difficult Super G #1 course, photo by Agence Zoom. The crowd on Downhill Day showed that ski racing is as popular as ever, photo by Jon Resnick. Marco Odermatt’s Swiss teammates lift hiim on their shoulders after his Super G #1 victory, photo by Agence Zoom.
Photo carousel 2: Beat Feuz (SUI) takes a corner on Downhill day at Xfinity Birds of Prey on Saturday, Dec. 3. Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR), center, won the race in front of an exuberant crowd, at right. Photos by Agence Zoom.
STARS IN OUR EYES
The challenges of hosting an international touring event during a pandemic also created additional operational challenges. Once again, the community pulled together to manage complex logistical requirements to responsibly and safely hold the event.
Ski racing supporters showed up in droves, showing that this exceptional sport remains as popular as ever. Of course, there was a lot more than ski racing to enjoy as well: concerts and activations in Beaver Creek Village, Beers of Prey, Bloodies and Bluegrass, the Silent Disco, films at the Vilar Performing Arts Center, and more. These festivities helped bring heightened vitality to Beaver Creek after a one-year hiatus.
The athletic performances on the mountain were awe-inspiring. At the 2021 Xfinity Birds of Prey, our community united to create a positive impact during an important season of year for all of us in the Vail Valley.
HONORING A CHAMPION
On Nov. 27, 2021, an additional Downhill was added to the Xfinity Birds of Prey schedule as a replacement to a cancelled race in Lake Louise. The new plan called for a Downhill training day on Dec. 1, followed by two days of Super G and two days of Downhill.
Super G One
Swiss skier Marco Odermatt, who won the Super G at the Xfinity Birds of Prey in 2019, reclaimed his crown by winning the Dec. 2 race on a very challenging course. Austrian Matthias Mayer, the Super G gold medalist at the 2018 Olympics, finished second. Canada’s Broderick Thompson, coming into the race with Bib No. 35, finished third for his first career World Cup podium in any discipline.
Super G Two
On Friday, Dec. 3, Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde finished in first, followed by Odermatt, of Switzerland, in second, in the event’s second Super G. American Travis Ganong in third, sporting bib No. 2, was sitting in first place after his run and then had to patiently, and anxiously, await the rest of the field to secure a podium finish in third. For Ganong, competing on home snow in front of family, friends and Team USA fans, it was his first Xfinity Birds of Prey podium and his first World Cup Super G podium.
Norway’s Alexander Aamodt Kilde claimed his first downhill win on the iconic Birds of Prey Downhill course, with Austrian Matthias Mayer second and Swiss skier Beat Feuz third. Kilde was the first racer since Carlo Janka in 2009 to win consecutive-day races on the Birds of Prey course. The only other racer to win consecutive races is Hermann Maier, who won four races in 1999 and 2000. Unfortunately, heavy winds led to a cancellation of the second Downhill. The festive atmosphere of a return to racing kept spirits high, however, as the community celebrated the return of one of its iconic events.
Photo carousel 1: The Battle Mountain High School Drum Line helps set the rhythm for festivities on Birds of Prey Way. An actual bird of prey, a screech owl, did a meet-and-greet thanks to the Raptor Education Foundation. Audiences cheered live music in Beaver Creek village throughout the weekend. Photos by Chris Kendig.
Photo carousel 2: Costumes, dancing, ice skating, Beers of Prey, and much more at Birds of Prey Way brought vitality to Beaver Creek Village to help welcome winter to the Rockies. Photos by Chris Kendig.