Q&A with Bernhard Russi, Birds of Prey course designerSki Racing managing editor Alex C. Pasquariello chatted with Swiss ski racing legend Bernhard Russi, course designer of Beaver Creek’s famed Birds of Prey speed course, following Thursday’s super G. Russi was the 1972 downhill champ at the Sapporo Olympic Games.
Ski Racing: This Birds of Prey course is in its eighth season. How has it evolved as a course and as a World Cup event?
Bernhard Russi: In the course, itself? Nothing. I think it is still the same character. Of course, on days like this it depends always the snow conditions. Some years it’s icier than others and this year it’s in pretty good shape.
SR: Are you at all involved in the course preparation?
BR: No, I have nothing to do with that. Once the course is built, I have nothing to do with it anymore.
SR: Are you currently designing any race courses?
BR: I’m working in Are, Sweden, Val d’Isere, Korea and on some small courses in Switzerland.
SR: Korea? What type of courses are being designed in Korea? World Cup courses?
BR: It’s a completely new ski area in Korea I’m working on.
SR: It’s snowing right now, it snowed all through the super G. How much snow can the course take up top before they have to cancel the downhill.
BR: I think they are very, very good in working here and know how to prepare the course and have a good system. I think the question is, When does it stop snowing? If it’s always snowing, then you deal with restart or whatever is the problem it causes.
SR: Is there a skier that you’ve seen who has a definitive advantage on this course?
BR: For me it was mostly [Hermann] Maier. For me, he is the man from Birds of Prey. He showed it also with his results, of course. There’s also Bode Miller. But on this course, then you have to think. You have to think while you are racing, not just going down without any tactic. I think that’s what happened to [Miller] today.