(This is a reprint of the Talon Crew 2017 welcome newsletter, sent to all accepted volunteers via email.  Certain links have been redacted for web publication.)

Congratulations and welcome to Talon Crew for 2017 Birds of Prey.  You are receiving this email because your application has been accepted and you are scheduled to be part of Talon Crew.  Soon the White Circus will be rolling into town and it’s time for us to get ready to go.  We are super stoked that you decided to join us and the Talon Crew Team, along with the Vail Valley Foundation, have put forth a tremendous effort to ensure that you have a fantastic volunteer experience.

Course Update:  Our weather pattern has been much more favorable this year.  They have been blowing snow up on the course and every few days have brought another storm system.  Currently there is a Winter Storm Warning in effect for our area. Reports from the course is that they are on schedule with the snow making and are currently working in the finish arena to get that ready for the stadium build.  It’s looking very favorable for the Oct. 17 Snow Control date.  It’s safe to start packing and finalizing your travel arrangements and accommodations.

Registration:  We had an excellent recruiting season and it’s remarkable the passion and commitment you have for Talon Crew.  Most days are now full, but we will leave registration open until Nov. 12  for last minute friends and qualified people.  The Early Course Build, DH Training Days, and Race Days are all full or over-subscribed.  We even filled GS Sun, which we usually don’t do.  Course Security and all off-course positions have also checked in full.

Early Bird 9 Day Bonus:  As is typical of most years, we are still in need of volunteers for Course Build 1 and 2, the Fri. and Sat. after Thanksgiving.  As a new bonus incentive designed to encourage participation during the Course Build Days we’re going to try something new.  If you work any two of three days, (Fri. Nov. 24, Sat. Nov. 25 or Sun. Nov.  26) you will automatically become eligible for the 9 day gift which is an embroidered boot bag, provided you have also met the 4 day minimum commitment.  This applies to existing volunteers as well as new applications.

If you are able to add to your schedule and volunteer these days, please email
steve@taloncrew.com  We have a lot to do these days and they are our lightest attendance, so even being able to add one more day will be a big help.

Volunteer Information Center (VicNet)  This is your go-to place for everything you need to know regarding your schedule, assignments, and load times.  If you haven’t done so yet, please visit the VicNet to confirm your scheduled and assignment and to Opt-In to the text messaging system. We strongly encourage you to Opt-In for the text messaging service as this is the most efficient means we have of communicating with you for last minute schedule changes due to weather.  You may choose to bookmark the VicNet.  but you can also access it on the Talon Crew website homepage.

Please remember, if you need to make changes to your schedule, please email your request to steve@taloncrew.com.  Schedule changes cannot be made on the VicNet.

Daily Schedule Reminders and Load Time Text:  All volunteers will receive an automated Daily Schedule Reminder via email the day before a scheduled volunteer day.  You will only receive this reminder if you are a scheduled volunteer the next day.  Please read this email carefully, otherwise you might interpret this as a reminder for today, when in-fact, it will be for tomorrow.  If you have Opted In to our Text Messaging, you will receive a Load Time text confirming the load time for the next day. Generally these will be sent out in the early evening the day before, after the Team Captains Meeting.  These too will only go out to those who are scheduled to volunteer the next day. If you haven’t opted in, you will not get this notification.

Loading Lift 6 Centennial Express:  The times listed on your schedule are the time we expect you to Load Lift 6, not before!  You will need to adjust the departure time from your accommodations accordingly.  We have about a 15 minute window built in to the program in case you are slightly delayed.  Please get to Spruce Saddle as quickly as possible so that we can get our morning meeting started.  We want to keep these meetings short so we can get out on the hill promptly.

Other crews will need to load ahead of you and you will be denied lift access before your scheduled load time.  Please try and cue up out of the way until your scheduled load time so that other earlier crews will have load access.  Everybody will need to have their pass scanned in order to load.

Volunteer Jackets:  The volunteer jackets are in and they look remarkably similar to the ones we were going to get last year; go figure!  The Columbia jackets are really nice.  They are best described as a technical weatherproof shell with a light to medium insulation.  Perfect for working in on a nice day but roomie enough for layering on cold and windy days. They have a helmet friendly hood, hand warmer and cell phone friendly pockets, an internal goggle pocket, weatherproof zippers and removable powder skirt.  Good stuff, you’ll like the jackets and we should have plenty of them so you get your size.  You will be able to try them on and change sizing when you pick them up at VHQ.  We will be getting way cool hats this year too (not shown), but no sock vendor.  There are both Men’s and Women’s jackets.

2017 Talon Crew Uniform


Credential Pickup and Lift Access: You will need to stop by VHQ on or before your first volunteer day to pick up your credential and lift access before you proceed up the escalators to load Chair 6.  You will need a lift access to load the lifts as Beaver Creek will be open to the public at this point.  If you have a full Epic or Employee pass, at your option you may use that. It does save us a little money, but it is more convenient for you because they have the RF chip and you don’t have to dig for your credential which only has a bar code. VHQ will be open early enough for you to stop by and get your credential, but you may not be able to pick up your jacket at that time as we need you to get to Spruce Saddle on time.

Your credential will have lift access which is good at both Beaver Creek and Vail from Nov. 24 thru Dec. 4. As a way of thanking you for your efforts, you are welcome to use this pass on your days off.  Vail typically has the most terrain open at this time of year, but your lift access is good at both areas.  With all this fancy new technology, be aware that big brother may be watching.  If you are free skiing, make sure that you aren’t scheduled to be on-course that day.

Uniform Pick Up:  New for this year, we are trying to expand the hours for you to get your jacket and thus have eliminated the formal Uniform Distribution as we’ve had in the past..  If you are in town you are welcome to come up to VHQ the day before your first day, but only during the hours shown in the VHQ section below.  There is 1 hour free parking in Ford Hall, but typically this is full, or you will need to take the free bus up from the Elk Lot.  The parking in the Elk Lot is free if you enter after 1:00pm.  More conveniently, you should stop by VHQ after your first day on the hill and pick it up then. It is expected that everyone is in uniform by DH Training 1, Tues. Nov. 28.

VHQ Volunteer Headquarters: This year VHQ will be conveniently located in Ford Hall in the Ford Boardroom.  To reach Ford Hall, go through the covered bridge when the shuttle bus drops you off and stay slightly left instead of turning right to load the escalator.  Continue walking towards the ice rink and then go up the large staircase to your right.  You will see the large sign for Ford Hall, go in the main doors and VHQ will be straight ahead.  Alternatively, if you know where the ticket windows are, you can just take the hallway to the left of the ticket windows and this will put you in the same place.

Hours and operations for VHQ:

Thurs. Nov. 23 (Thanksgiving Day):
Closed all day.
Fri. Nov. 24 thru Mon. Nov. 27:
6:00am-6:45am credential and uniform pick up
6:45am-7:30am credential pick up only.
8:00am-6:00pm credential and uniform pick up
Tue. Nov. 28 thru Sun. Dec.2:
6:00am-6:45am credential pick up only
7:30am-6:00pm credential, uniform, and gift
Sun. Dec. 3:
7:30am-4:00pm credential, uniform, and gift

This will also be the location where you will be able to pick up your 6-Day and 9-Day gift.  You will not need to get a confirmation slip at Check-Out at the Birdhouse as your status will already be in our system. Instead, you can just go to VHQ and they can look you up in the computer, but please bring your credential because they will need your volunteer number.  However, if you didn’t check in and check out each day like you are supposed to, you will have issues with doing this so you may want to confirm your eligibility when you check out at the Birdhouse.

Check In/Out:  You are required to check-in and check-out each day.  Check In will be at Spruce Saddle and Check-Out will be at the Birdhouse  Tent.  At Spruce Saddle, please proceed to the upper level.  There will be self-service iPads set up for you to check-in.  It’s super simple, easier than the credit card machine at the grocery store.  You will need your volunteer number which will be on your credential.  For those who may be slightly technically challenged, or may need help with your schedule or general questions, we will also have a full service Help Desk for you assistance.  Similar process for check-out at the Birdhouse at the end of your shift.

Social Events:  

  • Early Work Week BBQ at Talons Restaurant near Red Tail Stadium on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 26.  Free, but only for those who worked that day.  You will be released from the mountain as conditions permit.  Timing of this is weather dependent and will be confirmed day of.  Also weather dependent will be whether or not we have to return to the course after the BBQ.
  • Talon Crew Party (Tue. Nov. 28)  We are moving it to the Northside Kitchen in Avon.  They have a nice room for us, awesome! food, a convenient location, and plenty of free parking.  These are the same people who provide us with those killer breakfast burritos.  For $25 (plus tax and tip) you’ll get a Caesar Salad, choice of pre-selected gourmet entrees, dessert, and your first two beers or glass of wine.  We’ll also have a raffle with some cool swag and gifts. Bottles of wine, cash bar, and gourmet upgrade menu items available. We had a great party there last year after the races were cancelled and had a fantastic time.  We’ll send out an eVite so you can RSVP.  This is a particularly nice event for those who are unable to attend the Volunteer party on Sunday because they have to travel. Guests welcome and encouraged. Pay at the cashier after your meal.
  • Volunteer Party will be on Sun. Dec. 4 at 6:00pm in the Powder 8 room at the Hyatt in Beaver Creek Village.  The event is free but you will need to show your credential at the door. Volunteers only. Park in the Elk Lot and take the shuttle up.  Elk Lot is free if entry after 1:00pm.
  • Birdhouse Tent will be located above Race City at the bottom of Chair 6 Centennial Express.  It will be open daily starting Fri. Nov. 24, and is free to all volunteers.

Parking:  We will be back in the Elk Lot this year.  The Elk Lot is the first lot on your left on Hwy 6 when coming from I-70 via the main Avon Exit. Beaver Creek has begun charging $10 for the use of the Elk and Bear Lots. We have made special arrangements so that volunteers will not be charged for parking if they park in the Elk Lot (only).  Enter the lot as you normally would and take the ticket and the gate will go up.  When exiting, keep your volunteer credential handy.  There will be a parking attendant at the gate.  Show your credential to the attendant and you will receive a get-out-of-jail-free card that you just put in the machine and away you go.  Super simple, we like that.  If you are late and the Elk Lot is full, like it will be on race days, you’ll need to park in one of the other lots and pay the $10. If you arrive on time, there will be plenty of room for you to park.  Please try to carpool as much as possible.

Birdhouse Tent:   We will have Talon Crew merchandise available at the Birdhouse.  All proceeds from the store go towards funding Talon Crew activities, so you can also support us there.

All volunteers are welcome, as well as a few guests.  iPads will be set up for self check-out starting at 2:00pm.  Typically the kegs will be tapped from around 3:00pm to 7:00pm, but this will be weather dependent.  Specific days and hours of operations will be confirmed at the morning meeting at Spruce Saddle.

Ski Tunes:  The expectation is that you show up on the first day with a lethally sharp tune on your skis.  Once you get out on course, you will understand why, so please get your skis tuned prior to your first volunteer day.

Free ski tunes will be available during the event at Beaver Creek Sports located at the top of the first escalator in Beaver Creek Village.  You get two free tunes during the event; credential required.  Generally they are open early to accommodate next morning pick up prior to loading the lifts, but you should confirm this when you drop your skis off.  These guys stay late and then get up super early to accommodate us.  Please show them your appreciation by saying thanks.
First drop off date:  Fri. Nov. 24 until 7:00pm
Last drop off date:  Sat. Dec. 2 until 7:00pm
Last pick up date:  Sun. Dec. 3, starting at 6:00am

For those desiring a true “race tune”, we can highly recommend Venture Sports in Avon.  This is who I use for all my tunes because they are quite simply the best in the valley. They do an awesome job and will tune your skis to your specification.  Typically, a race tune is 0-1 degree on the bottom and 2-3 degrees on the sides. i.e., a bevelled edge.  See $25 coupon below (redacted for publication — see your email for the coupon).

The expectation is that you arrive at the hill with your skis already tuned and ready to go.  If you’ve done course work before, you know that there can be boney spots that are hard on your skis, aka core shots.  We will have Chip Ford set up in the Bird Cage at the top of Lift 9 to help you with these emergency situations only,  This should not be used as a free ski tune shop as we need you on the course.

Airport Shuttle Service:  Ride CME is absolutely the way you want to go if you are arriving via plane and you won’t need a car.  They run a fleet of Sprinter Vans that are very comfortable and have professional drivers. They will pick you up curbside at the airport and drop you off right at your door in a timely manner.  They have been generous in offering us employee pricing, 50% off, but you need to use this link in order to receive the discount.  Everyone tends to leave at the same time, so make sure you get a reservation.

CME Discount Link (redacted for web publication)

Skis Off; Traction Devices ON!  If you indicated on your application that you “have crampon experience and own them” you should plan on bringing them.  If your assignment location is at Top of Net 1, Top of Net 2, Bottom of Net 2, Top of Net 3, or Top of Net 3B, you are expected to have or borrow crampons.  If you need to borrow crampons, make sure your Crew Chief introduces you to Howard at the Tuff Shed and he will take care of you.  Typically owning crampons is better because then you just have to adjust them once.

All other on-course locations require some sort of “other traction device”, such as the Kahtoola micro-spikes.  Devices that have just cables on the bottom for traction, typically aren’t good enough.  AT boots also don’t provide enough traction.  You’ll need something additional for sure.  Make sure that what ever traction device you use, that they are sized to fit over your ski boots.

Skis ON, Helmets ON:  Ski helmets are required, no exceptions.  Once you are in location, it’s OK to take your helmet off if you become overheated.  Make sure you use the chin strap to attached you helmet to your pack or a secured object.

Backpacks:  These are a good idea to have with you so you can store extra clothes, dry gloves, goggles, snacks, sun screen, and most importantly water.  A clip of some sort is a really good idea too.  Work with you Crew Chief as to where to store your pack when not in use.  Generally a location outside of the fences is a better location.  It’s best to keep your pack with you when moving around so in case you end up someplace you didn’t expect, which is not uncommon, you’ll still have access to your pack.

Hydration:  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, and then drink a bunch more water.  This is one of the biggest challenges you will have is staying hydrated during the event.  Start your hydration program a few days beforehand.  Bring a refillable, and insulated, water bottle with you.  We will have tons of water available at the Birdfeeder along with sports drinks.  You will be spending most of your day at or above 10,000 ft. where the air is super dry.  When you are working, you inhale dry air, exhale moist air, and thus become dehydrated.  If you aren’t urinating on a regular basis, you are dehydrated and this will make you feel lethargic and possibly even give you a headache.  Keep drinking, then drink some more, and you will feel better.  Remember, that for each glass of caffeinated drinks, or alcohol, you consume, you need to drink two glasses of water just to replace that.  Oh, did I mention that it’s a good idea to hydrate!?  You get the idea…..

Bird Bay Ski Storage will be available for free during the event, beginning Fri. Nov. 24 in the Bird Bay (garage door on west side of Race City next to Lift 6, just downhill from the Birdhouse).  It’s self served and skis should be placed in the tubes.  It will be locked at night once the Birdhouse closes and opened again by the time you get there in the morning.  Due to limited space, ski storage is only for volunteers working the next day.  Please do not leave your skis there if it’s going to be a few days before you are back.  All skis must be removed by the end of day on Sun. Dec. 3.

Ski Poles:  If you are on-course, leave them at home.  Remember, that once you are on course, we never make ski turns; snow plow or sideslip only.  When you make ski turns on course, you leave a mess for one of your co-workers to clean up.

Lodging:  If you have a room that you would like to share, or if you would like to share a room with someone else, please contact our Housing Coordinator, Kathy Walter at housing@taloncrew.com  She will also give you the details on how to get the group rate at the lodges in the area.

We’ll get out one more newsletter right before the event with additional updates.The Early Course Build Small Crew starts in a little over three weeks from today.  It’s time to start getting ready for Birds of Prey and we look forward to seeing you in Beaver Creek soon.

The Talon Crew Team