It's no Super Bowl, but we'd say it's a hell of a lot more fun to watch. The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships return to Colorado this year, February 2-15 in Beaver Creek. Here, our reasons to join the frenzy if you haven't already:
1. We Have Home-Snow Advantage
Since World Cuppers started racing in Beaver Creek in 1988, the U.S. has had an impressive amount of success there. A Yank has stood atop the downhill podium more than any other country but one.
Austrian wins: 6
U.S. wins: 5
Swiss wins: 4
Norwegian and Italian wins: 2
2. Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin Will Duke It Out for Homecoming Queen
The two most intriguing skiers on the World Cup tour both call nearby Vail home. But there can only be one queen of the mountain. Here's how they stack up:
World Cup wins: 64
Events at 2015 World Championships: Downhill, super-G
Secret weapon: Bionic knee
World Cup wins: 10
Events at 2015 World Championships: Super-G, GS, slalom
Secret weapon: Youth
Our pick: Vonn. Shiffrin is winning races at an astonishing rate, but Vonn has already surpassed her record for the all-time women's World Cup record. She's determined to pull off a victory here.
3. The Men Will Take Flight
The most exciting event is the men’s downhill (February 7) on Birds of Prey, considered one of the more treacherous courses on the World Cup tour. Love to see guys fly? Keep your eyes on two of the six jumps: Golden Eagle and Red Tail.
Golden Eagle: In 2007, reigning World Cup champion Aksel Lund Svindal hit this going 72 miles per hour, flew 197 feet, and somersaulted into the safety netting—one reason FIS is mandating that skiers wear airbags this year.
Red Tail: It's a crowd favorite for two reasons: it's right in front of the spectating area, and it's the site of some spectacular crashes.
4. Bode Miller Could Win (or Crash)—and Will Definitely Run His Mouth
At age 37, Miller may be in the twilight of his career, but he’s still one of the most exciting—and unpredictable—skiers on the tour. Plus, he has awesome hobbies (he plans to get into horse racing when he retires) and says stuff like: “I’ve been crashing forever.… But am I going to back off? No. Because I like to do it this way, and I don’t give a fuck if I crash.”
5. The Fantastically Cheesy Theme Song
The Vail Valley Foundation collaborated with Mississippi country artist Steve Azar on “Fly.” According to a press release, Azar took only “a few hours” to come up with it. That’s not surprising when you consider lyrics like this:
“With legs of steel … all you need is gravity.”
6. We’re Guided by Satellites
GPS devices attached to the American athletes allow the team to gauge rates of acceleration and deceleration through every section of a turn. “We now have a better idea of when to ski a more direct line and when to take a rounder line,” says men’s head coach Sasha Rearick.
7. Because, As Every Racing Fan Knows, Ringing One of These Like a Maniac Is Totally OK.