World-class skiers like Lindsey Vonn and Ted Ligety fly down the slopes in Beaver Creek, Colorado, at the FIS Alpine Ski Championships.
World-class skiers like Lindsey Vonn and Ted Ligety fly down the slopes in Beaver Creek, Colorado, at the FIS Alpine Ski Championships. But the athletes aren’t the only ones who make this a ski event “second to only the Olympics.” From a host broadcaster with FIS (The Federation of International Skiing), to the head of IT who wires all of the TV stations, to the athletes’ personal chefs, a variety of people and skills are needed when it comes to such a mammoth-sized event.
After the racers finish, they walk down a long line called mixed media. There, Guilio Gasparin, a host broadcaster with the FIS from Italy, works. He was assigned to the World Championship and had to travel 11 hours to get here! According to Gasparin, the most difficult part of covering an event is “sending it back in the right time for the countries.” For example, if it’s 11 a.m. here, it’s prime time TV for the people in Europe. In most cases, the radio is live and the programs on television have some delay.
While meandering their way down the mixed media path to the interview room, the skiers are interviewed by the press. The most prominent athletes, like Lindsey Vonn, have the option to skip through the interview line and go straight to the press room.
Even getting the competitions onto your TV screen takes a lot of effort. All of the connectivity to the different countries is through fiber and satellite feeds. The head of IT hooks up the plethora of spaghetti-like wires, and I mean hundreds, to the chunky black boxes to get the feeds into the homes of more than 750 million viewers all over the world. Speaking of TV, each country has its own production area and TV monitor feeds from all of the cameras on the course. There, in each country’s area, they pick and choose which cameras to use for their stations.
Another group of people who work behind the scenes at the Championships are the teams’ personal chefs. The athletes are able to order whatever they want – if they’re hungry for ice cream, they get ice cream. Fried liver? Sure, they’ve got that!
The Vail Valley Foundation (VVF), a non-profit “dedicated to preserving the reputation and quality of life in Vail Valley,” has played a huge role in the organization of this event. The VVF coordinated activities in both Beaver Creek and Vail, including a kid zone and multiple free concerts by popular artists, according to Lindsey Myers, program manager with the VVF's Youth Foundation.
Because of the efforts of the Foundation, more than 2,500 volunteers and all of the other important players in this event, Beaver Creek/Vail is the only place to host the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships three times – once in 1989, then again in 1999, and most recently in 2015.
There’s still time to catch a race or two in this year’s competition. The event goes through Sunday, February 15.