The ladies will now run their downhill and super G races on the full length of the new speed course, Raptor, prepared specifically for the World Championships in 2015.
Due to an offseason calendar alteration by the FIS, which moved the women’s races up by two weeks, Beaver Creek was forced to create the alternative plan of running both the men and women down a “hybrid course,” which consists of the top part of the women’s track and the bottom part of the men’s track. Local organizers had originally wanted to host two completely independent courses, simulating the World Championship arrangement, but the early-season shift in the calendar made that impossible.
Today, however, Beaver Creek officials announced they will achieve the best case scenario by running the men down the hybrid course (upper Raptor, lower Birds of Prey), while the women will have an opportunity to race on their complete course, the same as they will in 2015.
It will be the first time the women’s course will be run in its entirety by anyone, although the U.S. Ski Team was able to train on roughly 70 percent of it last spring.
“We’re grateful to our mountain teams as we’re poised to have one of our better openings in recent years,” said Doug Lovell, chief operating officer for Beaver Creek Resort. “We’re thrilled to provide the ladies with their new test track, and offer so much terrain to our guests the first week of our season.”
Beaver Creek’s ability to pull it off — 100 percent of the ladies’ course and roughly 60 to 70 percent of the men’s — is a testament to the professionalism and state-of-the-art operation that has long been considered the best in the world. They also received some help from Mother Nature, who provided cold, early-season temperatures to aid in the snowmaking process.
“It’s going to feel just like the men’s trail in certain ways,” said course designer Greg Johnson. “It will start off with a flat section of gliding, and then all of sudden, like at The Brink, it gets very steep.”
The course will continue onto a new section of trail, called Kestrel, which is wide open with rolls, fall-away turns and other variable features. It will then meander into a lower gliding section, just before the final pitch into the finish area.
“You come out of the gate and it’s really flat,” said Laurenne Ross, “so that’s going to cater to gliders. I think there’s 30 seconds of gliding. Then, you breakover onto this pitch that’s going to last a minute, so that’s going to cater to the technical skiers, and the you’re back on the flat with a couple jumps. … I guess we’ll see what happens in the World Cup, but I’m psyched to get a full run in.”
“It’s incredible they were able to get our full course up and running,” added Julia Mancuso. “We know how hard it is to prepare a hill this early in the season so thanks Beaver Creek. Raptor will be difficult and a good challenge for the first race of the season.”
The inaugural Nature Valley Raptor Ladies’ World Cup will get underway Tuesday with Downhill Training. Competition kicks off Friday, November 29, with downhill, followed by super G on Saturday, November 30. The weekend’s racing will conclude with giant slalom on Sunday, December 1.