World’s best alpine skiers ready to compete in the Vail Valley

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Photo: Ligety skier
The U.S. men’s ski team is coming off a successful competition season and will feature Bode Miller and Ted Ligety, seen here racing on the Birds of Prey course at Beaver Creek during the 2013 World Cup.

The world’s second-largest international ski competition will take place for two weeks in the Vail Valley next month. Millions of dollars will pour into the region for an event that’s only been held in the United States three times before.

The FIS World Alpine Ski Championships begin on Feb. 2 in Vail, but skiing competitions for more than 600 athletes will take place at Beaver Creek.

“Short of the Olympics, it is the biggest event in alpine skiing,” said John Dakin, vice president of marketing for the Vail Valley Foundation, which was instrumental in acquiring the event and its implementation. “Everyone who is a superstar will be here.”

Organizers predict $120 million will flow in to the region from the event.

The championships began as a yearly event in 1931 in Murren, Switzerland, before becoming a biennial one. In 1980, the cup was part of the Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. Since then, it has been a stand-alone event.

Vail and Beaver Creek have hosted the non-Olympics version of the event three times, soon to be second only to Saint Moritz, Switzerland, which will host it a record fourth time in 2017.

More than 70 nations will be represented among the competitors, more than 2,200 volunteers will be on hand, and about 20,000 people are expected to line mountain courses that include the Birds of Prey for the men’s downhill event and the Raptor for the women’s downhill. The American ski team is expected to be led by recognized names such as Lindsey Vonn, Bode Miller and Ted Ligety.

“It’s exciting … for the sport of ski racing in the United States that the U.S. team is coming into these world championships on such a roll,” Dakin said. “It is the most coverage in history of ski racing in the United States.”