Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey downhill is the must see spectator event this year

Posted By: Zeke Piestrup on October 21, 2009 11:26 am

Of all the races on the men’s World Cup tour, there is but one in the United States. And it is truly special.  The Birds of Prey returns to Beaver Creek, December 4-6.  

“Already in its short history, the Birds of Prey has ended careers, created legends, and propelled the next generation of racers to the top of the sport.”

The course was designed by Olympic downhill gold medalist Bernhard Russy of Switzerland.  It features all that which makes downhill ski racing the most exciting sport on planet earth. Turns at race car speeds on pitches steeper than the side of a high rise, the Birds of Prey launches skiers the length of football fields.

With respect and love to all alpine and freestyle comps (amen to slopestyle!), special recognition must be made for downhill.  The discipline rewards the most primal attributes.  Its competitors are the fastest, strongest, and bravest.  This is survival of the fittest, Darwinism on snow.  The consequences of error can be both career and life threatening. Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal won the 2008 Birds of Prey, only a year after a monster crash on the same course.  It was a horrific crash at over 80 mph, landing on his neck off the Golden Eagle jump, knocking Svindal out cold.  When he awoke, the first thing he heard were the doctors yelling, “Prepare the surgery room!”

With only eight downhills each year on the World Cup, there are not many opportunities to witness live the most extreme of sport.  Bill Johnson, Olympic downhill gold medalist, had one tattoo that simply read, “Ski to die.”   In a world of manufactured sensationalism, Johnson’s mantra is completely devoid of exaggeration.  Downhill ski racing demands the ability to overcome all fears in choosing a line down the mountain that could be your last.

Just 41 days until the Birds of Prey.  If you can’t make it every year, make it this year.  Beware, however, in that if your religion is not downhill ski racing, it will be after the Birds of Prey.  To witness live the incredibleness of the Birds of Prey results in instant converts.  The course and its gladiators are beyond special.

Ski Free and Stay Free over the World Cup weekend at Beaver Creek 

Zeke Piestrup ( More Posts)

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