World will be watching
Vail Mayor Andy Daly excited to put town in worldwide spotlight
In less than 100 days, some 35,000 ski fans and families from around the globe will descend upon the Vail Valley for the 2015 World Alpine Championships (more awkwardly but officially called the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships).
The event, making only its fourth appearance in the U.S. (Aspen in 1950, Vail-Beaver Creek in 1989 and 1999), runs Feb. 2-15 and is expected to nearly triple the population of Vail and Avon.
These numbers might seem a little daunting to a typical mountain town mayor, but Vail’s Andy Daly is not your typical mayor.
It would be fair to say Daly, with more than 40 years in the ski industry, skis better than most, if not all, the other skiing politicians, most of whom can’t ski.
It all began in 1970 when he took a job at Aspen Highlands. He has since gone on to hold executive positions at Copper, Eldora Mountain Resort, Beaver Creek, The Broadmoor, and Vail Associates.
He was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 2000.
How many places has he skied? He’d love to tell you, but he’s kind of lost count. Let’s just call it hundreds of ski areas in North America and Europe.
And at 68, Daly’s still skipping work and ripping it up with his friends on powder days.
Grand Valley skiers may be more familiar with Daly as the part-owner and operator of Powderhorn Mountain Resort.
He’s also helping steer the growth of Alpine Mountain Ranch and Club, an exclusive single-family community in Steamboat Springs.
Ski writer Troy Hawks recently caught up with Daly to chat about his town’s preparation for the 2015 WAC.
The World Alpine Championships is just months away, describe the vibe around town:
You look at an event like the World Alpine Championships for five years, and as you get closer, you really get into it and now there is a tremendous amount of excitement. People can see all of the preparations coming together. They see the time clock counting down just before they walk across the Covered Bridge, and now we have other people looking to see how they can get involved.
The Vail Valley Foundation has more than 1,500 volunteers and more than 3,500 applications for volunteer jobs.
It has captured everybody’s attention, not only Vail, but in the valley and the surrounding states.
And you were front and center for the previous two Vail WACs?
Well, not entirely. I came to watch the 1989 Championships with Hans Geier who was president of Steamboat at the time. But we had 18 inches of new snow that day, so as they were shoveling the course, Hans and I were enjoying the back bowls. It worked out to be a spectacular day of skiing.
In 1999 I was on the executive committee for the Vail Valley Foundation as well as for the event itself.
How many people are we talking about?
In the valley, you’ll probably have 35,000 people here. So it will be busy, but surprisingly enough, those folks will really be focused on the race courses so it’s a terrific time to go skiing.
You can catch part of the World Championships but the rest of the time you’re going to have more of a private ski experience than you would anticipate during a major world-class event.
And it’s a great opportunity to brush with other cultures?
Oh yeah, You’ll see major representation from the Italians, Swiss, Austrians, Germans, and they’ll have their own hospitality suites in restaurants and hotels around town.
It gives you a great opportunity to meet people from around the world in a wonderful cosmopolitan atmosphere.
What are the other opportunities?
The incredible thing is that this will drive 700 to 750 million television viewers around the world.
The Nation’s Cup isn’t until 2 p.m. because they want it to air live in prime time in Europe.
Every night we’ll have music, award ceremonies, and other events here in Vail as well as the evening festivities.
And logistically, you’re ready?
All of the races except for the Nation’s Cup are in Beaver Creek, and the uniqueness of that venue is that you can have all of the women’s and men’s speed and technical events finishing in the same area.
Last year the Foundation and Vail Resorts finished construction on the new women’s downhill course.
It was a smashing success, so this venue is going to be spectacular.
We’ll have a dry run Dec. 5-7 for the (Audi Birds of Prey) Men’s World Cup and it will give us an opportunity to work out any kinks and then finalize it for the World Championships in February.
What special challenges does hosting the 2015 WAC present?
One of the challenges is the logistics of moving people around. There’s been a tremendous effort among the towns of Vail, Avon and the Beaver Creek Resort Company for moving people back and forth to events so you can be here and make it a “car-less” event.
Something you don’t see is the security effort that’s going on. We’re installing additional security systems so that we have as safe a venue as you could have anywhere in the world. Our police chief has been through this several times before and is considered one of the top event-security experts in the United States.
We’re just finishing up a tremendous effort to get Vail completed in time for the World Alpine Championships, it’s been a community-wide effort, and Vail is putting its best foot forward.