Ski officials juggle World Cup schedules with threats of coming snow at Beaver Creek

Ski officials juggle World Cup schedules with threats of coming snow at Beaver Creek

Abundant snowfall in the Colorado high country has been a massive boon for Front Range ski resorts, but it has forced organizers of this weekend’s men’s World Cup ski races at Beaver Creek to juggle the schedule.

Officials canceled today’s downhill training run on the world-renowned Birds of Prey course, and the downhill race that was scheduled for Saturday has been moved to Friday. The super-G scheduled for Friday was moved to Saturday.

Because of its high speeds, downhill is the most exciting of the four ski racing disciplines, so World Cup organizers prefer to run downhills on Saturday to maximize worldwide viewership on television and at the race venue. The top speed at last year’s Beaver Creek downhill exceeded 80 mph. Super-G races are shorter with more turns and slower average speeds, although the top speed at last year’s Beaver Creek super-G exceeded 76 mph.

At nearby Vail, officials announced that Blue Sky Basin is now open, the second-earliest season opening for that area of the resort. Vail has nearly 80 percent of its terrain open now.

But at sister resort Beaver Creek, 12 miles to the west, with more snowfall expected over the next two days, race officials made adjustments to avoid complications from the weather. If they have to cancel a race, they would prefer it to be a super-G rather than a downhill.

“The philosophy here is that the downhill is the priority,” said race spokesman Tom Boyd. ”Given the weather forecast for more snow, we feel we have the best chance to get the downhill in Friday. Also, the weather forecast shows that we have a clear night leading into 11 a.m. tomorrow, which means we have a pretty good chance of starting our downhill with a clean course Friday morning.”

Race times are always subject to change when weather is a factor, but for now, Friday’s downhill is scheduled for 10:45 a.m., and Saturday’s super-G is slated for 11 a.m. Both races will be televised by NBCSN. A giant slalom is scheduled for Sunday.

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