People & Stories

What They're Saying: 

From Mikaela Shiffrin (USA), winner of the 2015 Ladies' Slalom World Championships:

"I want to thank all of you for treating me as a special person out there. Every time I turned around someone was calling out “Good luck Mikaela” and making me feel like the hometown/home state/home nation fans were pulling for me. That sense of support gave me the strength to overcome nerves and get the job done on race day as much to pay back my supporters as for myself. 

My dad reminded of the appropo saying “I alone can do it, but I can’t do it alone”; so please accept my heart felt and sincerest gratitude for making those two weeks of World Championships so memorable.

So Hats Off to everyone.  Congratulations !!!!

Awesome !!!!"

Mikaela Shiffrin

From Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud, winner of the 2014 Downhill on the Birds of Prey:

"The infamous Birds of Prey course is one of my favorites on the tour. It has fast-packed action, with big jumps and steep technical parts. And even though it sounds difficult (which it is), it has a nice flow to it, which not many other downhill courses have. The best praise I can give, however, is the preparation. Every year the snow conditions on the hill are flawless. So thank you to all the volunteers in Beaver Creek. You do a great job!"

Idiot in charge

From Ceil Folz, President, Vail Valley Foundation:
(From Her Dec 19, 2013 Vail Daily Column)

Our team on the mountain, both our Beaver Creek Mountain Operations team and our volunteer Talon Crew were amazing. What they achieved from the moment they began building the courses to the last racers’ turn on Dec. 8 was nothing short of miraculous.

The dedication and skill that we see from this team is unparalleled in the world. Yes, in the world. Just ask the Austrians, the French, the Swiss, the Italians and the Scandinavians. Just ask the very best skiers in the world what they think of our team on the hill and they will tell you. There is nobody better, anywhere. If they could take our team on the road with them, they would. They are that good.

From Bode Miller (USA) on the quality of course preparation:

  “This is the best manicured course on the circuit. There’s a great quality to the snow. It’s so smooth because there’s an army of folks out there busting their butts, and we really appreciate it.”

From Jan Hudec (CDN) appreciating Talon Crew over a beer: 

I stopped by to thank the Talon Crew. It’s such a pleasure to come to a beautiful hill and a beautiful village like this. It makes you really realize why you’re a ski racer! The athletes really appreciate all of the work that you do. We’re going to go out there this weekend and rip it up!

Why Volunteer? 

Conversations about the Talon Crew often begin like this:

Q: You’re working a ski race, starting daily at 6:00 am, standing for hours in the cold, shoveling snow, installing fence, and all the while skiing over the scariest, iciest ski slopes you’ve ever seen? Wow! They must pay you a lot! 
A: No, they don’t pay us at all. We’re volunteers. 
Q: But they fly you out for the races, right? 
A: No, we buy our own plane tickets. 
Q: But it’s Beaver Creek! They must put you up in really posh lodgings. 
A: No, we pay for our own lodging. 
Q: But you get a season pass, right? 
A: No …. we are volunteers. 
Q: Really, so why do you volunteer?... (Read the full story here.) 

Article:  Stay On Course

Meet the muscle behind the 2015 World Championships at Beaver Creek.
(Read Shauna Farnell's article here.)

Talon Tale:  Hubert and Marlo

...I see two of our newest volunteers, Hubert and Marlo at the side of the slope. Hubert’s binding has just broken.  One of the race crew comes up and asks Hubert if he needs help returning to the bottom. Hubert says no, turns, and skis straight down the hill. I mean straight down the hill on one ski!...(Read Hubert and Marlo's full tale here.)

Profile: Murray Wood 

Murray Wood first joined the Talon Crew in 2006 in advance of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver where he served as Chief Gate Judge for the men's alpine skiing events.  Murray has been returning to Beaver Creek for our events ever since.

Originally from Vancouver and now living in Whistler, Murray started volunteering for big league ski racing at the 1989 World Cup where his fellow Canadian, Rob Boyd stepped atop the podium for the Men's Downhill.  Murray is a member of the Whistler Weasel Workers, the organization representing race course volunteers at Whistler and beyond.

In Beaver Creek, Murray served as Chief Gate Judge for the ladies' events at the 2015 World Championships and for the 2015 Birds of Prey Men's World Cup Downhill.  Next on his calendar are the Canadian Championships at Whistler where he will be Chief of Race for the slalom.  Murray also teaches race official courses throughout the ski season.

Profile: Katie Keane 

Katie’s laugh is infectious. It’s a great chuckle that relaxes everybody around her. This newly promoted Assistant Chief of Course has worked the Birds of Prey races for years. An ex-college racer who fell in love with Western terrain, Katie started working at Beaver Creek fresh out of college...(Read Katie's full profile here.) 

Nothing But Net 

Downhill ski racing isn’t safe. When an athlete falls on a course as steep and as icy as the Birds of Prey, they don’t stop...(Read the full story here.) 

Talon Tale:  Fluff Pile

As the ski club kids come through, they keep missing the fluff pile right next to me. I am getting a little frustrated, so I look up the hill and see somebody standing there. I point straight at him and yell, “You! I want you right here!”...(Read the full tale here.)

Profile:  Marco Buechel

Unlike other new Talon Crew recruits, Marco Buechel doesn’t need a briefing on the steepness of the slope at The Brink or a map of the course. Marco knows the Birds of Prey course because he has competed here on seven different occasions!...(Read Marco's full profile here.)

Talon Tale:  Austrian "Toilet"

...He’s a big guy, and he looks mad, so I back up all the way to the fence. And he keeps coming toward me!...(Read the full tale here.)

A Volunteer's Life 

You don’t meet many folks walking through Avon, Colorado at 5:30 in the morning, but as I am walking toward the Beaver Creek shuttle, a car slows down. “Good morning,” my crew chiefs, Sean and Kevin, practically sing out. “Can we give you a lift to the shuttle?" “Sure!” I reply as I open the rear door...(Read the full story here.)

Profile:  Don Dressler

If you’re surprised to see Snow Ranger Don Dressler shoveling snow or installing fence on the Birds of Prey racecourse with the Talon Crew, you shouldn’t be. Although Don represents the White River National Forest and works as the Forest Service liaison to Vail and Beaver Creek, he readily pitches in on the racecourse year after year...(Read Don's full profile here.)

Dick & Mary Pownall - 2009

Profile:  Kerry Donovan

Talon Crew Organizer Kerry Donovan volunteers for the Talon Crew year-round. While her summers are fairly quiet, by the time Race Week arrives she describes her job as, “putting out fires!”...(Read Kerry's full profile here.)