Birds of Prey (ski course)

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Birds of Prey
Downhill Course
Birds of Prey course in December 2011
Birds of Prey course in December 2011
Birds of Prey Downhill Course is located in the United States
Birds of Prey Downhill Course
Birds of Prey
Downhill Course
Location in the United States
LocationEagle County, Colorado
Nearest cityAvon, Colorado
Coordinates39°34′59″N 106°31′23″W / 39.583°N 106.523°W / 39.583; -106.523Coordinates: 39°34′59″N 106°31′23″W / 39.583°N 106.523°W / 39.583; -106.523
Vertical  2,470 ft (753 m)
Top elevation11,427 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.[1]

World class[edit]

The Birds of Prey course was developed for the 1999 World Championships, designed by Swiss 1972 Olympic champion Bernhard Russi.[2] 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,[3] 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,[4] 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).[5]

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.[6]


The jumps of the race course adhere to the birds of prey theme: Peregrine, Screech Owl, Goshawk, Golden Eagle, Harrier, and the concluding Red Tail.


Super G[edit]

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.[7] 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.[8] 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.)

New course[edit]

Adjacent to Birds of Prey on Beaver Creek Mountain, a new women's downhill course was built for the 2015 World Championships.[9] 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.[10] Both speed events were won by Lara Gut of Switzerland.


World Championships – Men's Downhill[edit]

Date Gold Silver Bronze Notes
7 Feb 2015  Switzerland  Patrick Küng 1:43.18 United States Travis Ganong 1:43.42  Switzerland Beat Feuz 1:43.49 [1]
6 Feb 1999 Austria Hermann Maier 1:40.60 Norway Lasse Kjus 1:40.91 Norway Kjetil André Aamodt 1:41.17 [2]

World Cup – Men's Downhill[edit]

Season Date First Time Second Third Notes
2019 30 Nov 2018  Switzerland  Beat Feuz 1:13.59  Switzerland  Mauro Caviezel Norway Aksel Lund Svindal [3]
2018 2 Dec 2017 Norway Aksel Lund Svindal (4) 1:40.46  Switzerland  Beat Feuz Germany Thomas Dreßen [4]
2017 2 Dec 2016 canceled, warm temperatures in November; rescheduled to Val-d'Isère
2016 4 Dec 2015 Norway Aksel Lund Svindal (3) 1:42.34 Norway Kjetil Jansrud France Guillermo Fayed [5]
2015 5 Dec 2014 Norway Kjetil Jansrud 1:40.17  Switzerland  Beat Feuz United States Steven Nyman [6]
2014 6 Dec 2013 Norway Aksel Lund Svindal (2) 1:44.50 Austria Hannes Reichelt Italy Peter Fill [7]
2013 30 Nov 2012 Italy Christof Innerhofer 1:41.69 Norway Aksel Lund Svindal Norway Kjetil Jansrud [8]
2012 2 Dec 2011 United States Bode Miller (3) 1:43.82  Switzerland  Beat Feuz Austria Klaus Kröll [9]
2011 3 Dec 2010 canceled, strong winds; rescheduled to 11 March in Kvitfjell [11]
2010 5 Dec 2009  Switzerland  Carlo Janka 1:43.49  Switzerland  Didier Cuche Norway Aksel Lund Svindal [10]
2009 5 Dec 2008 Norway Aksel Lund Svindal 1:43.85 Liechtenstein Marco Buechel Canada Erik Guay [11]
2008 30 Nov 2007 Austria Michael Walchhofer 1:13.74 United States Steven Nyman  Switzerland  Didier Cuche [12]
2007 1 Dec 2006 United States Bode Miller (2) 1:46.15  Switzerland  Didier Cuche United States Steven Nyman [13]
2006 2 Dec 2005 United States Daron Rahlves (2) 1:13.37 United States Bode Miller Austria Hans Grugger [14]
2005 3 Dec 2004 United States Bode Miller 1:39.76 United States Daron Rahlves Austria Michael Walchhofer [15]
2004 5 Dec 2003 United States Daron Rahlves 1:39.59 Austria Stephan Eberharter Norway Bjarne Solbakken (tie 2nd) [16]
2003 7 Dec 2002 Austria Stephan Eberharter 1:40.18 Austria Michael Walchhofer United States Daron Rahlves [17]
2002 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City
2001 2 Dec 2000 Austria Hermann Maier (3) 1:40.66 Norway Lasse Kjus Austria Stephan Eberharter [18]
2000 27 Nov 1999 Austria Hermann Maier (2) 1:43.77 Austria Stephan Eberharter Italy Kristian Ghedina [19]
1999 1999 World Championships in February
1998 5 Dec 1997 Austria Andreas Schifferer 1:41.17 Austria Hermann Maier Austria Stephan Eberharter [20]
4 Dec 1997 Italy Kristian Ghedina 1:41.16 France Jean-Luc Crétier Norway Lasse Kjus [21]


  • You - The Birds of Prey Downhill - From Jalbert Production's The Thin Line
  • You - Hans Knauss - Audi Birds of Prey POV Downhill - December 2010


  1. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2010-12-07. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
  2. ^ Lloyd, Barbara (February 4, 1999). "The Ski Report; Birds of Prey Course is not for shrinking violets". New York Times.
  3. ^ - results 2004-12-03 - downhill - Beaver Creek
  4. ^ "Results: Beaver Creek downhill" (PDF). November 30, 2012.
  5. ^ "Results: men's downhill" (PDF). FIS. December 5, 2003. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  6. ^ "Trail map". Beaver Creek Resort. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  7. ^ Meyer, John (December 7, 2011). "Lindsey Vonn skis to super-G victory on Birds of Prey". Denver Post.
  8. ^ McKee, Hank (December 7, 2011). "Vonn wins first female test of Birds of Prey". Ski
  9. ^ "Beav's new women's DH course named 'Raptor'". Ski Racing. September 6, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  10. ^ Meyer, John (November 26, 2013). ""Raptor" downhill course at Beaver Creek gains World Cup ski reputation". Denver Post. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  11. ^ "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.

External links[edit]