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The Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup races are a Colorado tradition dating back to 1997. Photo by Tomas Cohen courtesy Vail Valley Foundation.

Why You Should Head to Beaver Creek for the Birds of Prey World Cup

The weekend features beer, Bloody Marys, live music, and skiing so fast you could blink and miss it.

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Beaver Creek is the only place in America where you can see the world’s fastest men compete in blazing-speed downhill races, but that’s not the only reason to head up I-70 for the Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS World Cup ski races, December 5–8.

“You can go to a football game, you can go to a baseball game. Those are things you can do anywhere in America,” says Tom Boyd of the Vail Valley Foundation, organizer of the Birds of Prey World Cup events. “If you want to see a major sports and cultural event that is quintessentially Colorado, you should go to Birds of Prey.”

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In addition to the hair-raising (and free) spectacle of watching skiers hit 100-yard jumps and speeds of 80 mph in the downhill and super G races, and perform feats of unfathomable agility and lightning-fast reflexes in the giant slalom, Beaver Creek is throwing down a weekend of live music, parties, a beer festival, and lots of freebies. Here’s what’s on tap.

Welcome party. The Coyote Café in Beaver Creek Village is the long-standing unofficial hangout of ski patrol, locals, and the army of Birds of Prey volunteers, the Talon Crew. The Coyote is abuzz throughout the weekend, but the December 5 welcome party—happening from 5–9 p.m.—gets things thumping with live DJ tunes, drink specials, and swag giveaways. Free

Free stuff. Yes, you can land a free cowbell to jangle the whole way back to Denver as well as other goodies from vendor tents at the Red Tail finish area and Beaver Creek Village. The après scene in the village features live music every afternoon, beginning Friday with dueling live DJs in the TIAA Bank Silent Disco dance party, in which DJs distribute headphones that light up depending on which live channel listeners choose. It’s also not truly silent, since DJ tunes boom through speakers at the ice rink, where skating and rentals are free on Friday, December 6 from 4 to 6 p.m. . Another huge draw for zero dollars is the free Bloody Marys and bluegrass music in the village on Saturday and Sunday mornings before racing begins.

Meet the Americans. No need to join the scrum of kid racers clamoring for an autographed helmet as the pros zigzag through the finish area, because top U.S. athletes (Ted Ligety, Steven Nyman, Travis Ganong, among others) will be signing autographs at Gorsuch on December 6 from 4 to 5 p.m.

Beer festival. The Beers of Prey has become one of Colorado’s best off-the-radar celebrations of craft beers from in-state brewers and beyond. Sample the latest and greatest suds and special releases from 14 breweries, including Frisco’s Outer Range, Vail Brewing, Eagle’s Bonfire, and New Belgium on December 7 from 2 to 6 p.m. $35

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Ski and ride. Beaver Creek opened for the season early on November 23 with 70 acres of terrain. There’s no telling how much more will be available over World Cup weekend. Resort crews sometimes open ski in/out access to the Red Tail finish area at the last minute. Lift and terrain access info is updated here.

Once the World Cup passes through Beaver Creek, it heads overseas for the remainder of the winter. If you want to catch it live, this is your chance.

If you go: Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS World Cup ski races, December 5–8; location vary 

(MORE: A First-Timer’s Guide to Beaver Creek)

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