Birds of Prey (ski course)
|Birds of Prey|
Birds of Prey course in December 2011
|Location||Eagle County, Colorado|
|Nearest city||Avon, Colorado|
|Vertical||2,470 ft (753 m)|
|Top elevation||11,427 ft (3,483 m)|
|Base elevation||8,957 ft (2,730 m)|
Birds of Prey is a World Cup downhill ski course in the western United States, located at Beaver Creek, Colorado. A regular stop on the men's World Cup tour, the races in Beaver Creek are usually held in early December. The course hosted the Alpine World Championships in February 1999 and 2015. With lower starting gates, it is also used for Super-G and Giant Slalom races.
The Birds of Prey course was developed for the 1999 World Championships, designed by 1972 Olympic champion Bernhard Russi. The first World Cup race was won by Kristian Ghedina of Italy in December 1997, but the course was then dominated by Austrians, led by the legendary Hermann Maier. He won three consecutive Birds of Prey downhills: the 1999 world title in front of 20,000 spectators, followed by World Cup victories in each of the next two seasons.
In December 2004, Americans Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves took first and second place, respectively, in the World Cup downhill race, the first ever one-two finish for American men in a downhill, and the first in any event in over two decades, since Phil & Steve Mahre in the 1984 Olympic slalom. The two Americans switched positions on the podium the following year, as Rahlves joined Maier as a multiple winner. Miller joined them the next year and gained a third title on the course in December 2011.
For the World Cup downhill race in December 2012, the starting gate was at an elevation of 11,427 ft (3,483 m) above sea level with the finish line at 8,957 ft (2,730 m), a vertical drop of 2,470 ft (753 m). The course was 1.71 miles (2.752 km) in length, an average gradient of 27 percent (15 degrees), with a maximum gradient of 45 percent in the middle. Rahlves' time of 1:39.59 in December 2003 is the fastest in competition for the full course, an average speed of 61.0 miles per hour (98.2 km/h) and an average vertical descent of 24.9 feet (7.6 m) per second. The course that year had a vertical drop of 2,484 feet (757 m) and a length of 1.687 miles (2.715 km).
In November 2018, weather forced a lower start at 11,158 ft (3,401 m), reducing the course length to 1.286 miles (2.070 km) with a vertical drop of 2,201 ft (671 m). With the flat section of the top eliminated, the winning time of 1:13.59 by Beat Feuz yielded an average speed of 62.9 mph (101.2 km/h) and an average vertical descent of 29.9 feet (9.1 m) per second.
The Red Tail Camp finish area is about 800 vertical feet (240 m) above the resort's main village.
Due to a lack of snow in France in December 2011, the women's super G scheduled for Val-d'Isère was moved to the Birds of Prey course, which had hosted men's races the previous week. It was the first time that women had raced on the course. Hometown favorite Lindsey Vonn of Vail delighted the valley with her 46th World Cup victory, her first on U.S. snow. She became the first American to tally four consecutive World Cup victories; she swept the three speed events the previous week at Lake Louise, Alberta. Through the 2016 season, Vonn has 19 victories in North America, with a single resort record of 18 wins at Lake Louise. (The women's World Cup events in North America are usually late November technical events in Aspen, followed by multiple speed events in Canada at Lake Louise.)
Adjacent to Birds of Prey on Beaver Creek Mountain, a new women's downhill course was built for the 2015 World Championships. Named Raptor, it hosted three women's World Cup events in November 2013, a test run for the world championships less than fifteen months later. Both speed events were won by Lara Gut of Switzerland.
World Championships – Men's Downhill
|7 Feb 2015||Patrick Küng||1:43.18||Travis Ganong||1:43.42||Beat Feuz||1:43.49|||
|6 Feb 1999||Hermann Maier||1:40.60||Lasse Kjus||1:40.91||Kjetil André Aamodt||1:41.17|||
World Cup – Men's Downhill
- Multiple winners
- You Tube.com - The Birds of Prey Downhill - From Jalbert Production's The Thin Line
- You Tube.com - Hans Knauss - Audi Birds of Prey POV Downhill - December 2010
- Lloyd, Barbara (February 4, 1999). "The Ski Report; Birds of Prey Course is not for shrinking violets". New York Times.
- FIS-ski.com - results 2004-12-03 - downhill - Beaver Creek
- "Results: Beaver Creek downhill" (PDF). FIS-ski.com. November 30, 2012.
- "Results: men's downhill" (PDF). FIS. December 5, 2003. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- "Trail map". Beaver Creek Resort. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
- Meyer, John (December 7, 2011). "Lindsey Vonn skis to super-G victory on Birds of Prey". Denver Post.
- McKee, Hank (December 7, 2011). "Vonn wins first female test of Birds of Prey". Ski Racing.com.
- "Beav's new women's DH course named 'Raptor'". Ski Racing. September 6, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
- Meyer, John (November 26, 2013). ""Raptor" downhill course at Beaver Creek gains World Cup ski reputation". Denver Post. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
- "Second downhill in Kvitfjell". FIS Alpine Ski World Cup. Fédération Internationale de Ski. 7 December 2010. Archived from the original on 11 December 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
The cancelled Men's Downhill from Beaver Creek (USA) will be replaced on Friday, 11. March 2011 in Kvitfjell (NOR). The organizers in Kvitfjell take over once more a World Cup race that was canceled somewhere else.