At the Downhill finish

As I sit in the stands at the finish of the 2012 Audi Birds of Prey awaiting the start of the race, I look up at the hill, admiring the course. That’s when I notice a distinct line of smoke wafting across the top of the big jump. The Golden Eagle Bistro must be open!

Due to the new movement patterns on the hill, the course maintenance workers circulate much less than in previous years. To help keep the volunteers warm and fed, the race crew outfitted each section with a grill. My crew “owns” the top of the Golden Eagle jump – the biggest jump on the course.

With change came pain (less chance for hot soup in the Tough Shed) and opportunity (grilling!). Our crew embraced the change, vowing we’d eat better than any other section on the hill. We also planned to include not only our Talon Crew volunteers, but the paid professional race crew in our area as well as the FIS official stationed at the top of the Golden Eagle jump along with Ski Patrol and an odd assortment of coaches.  Here’s what we did:

On Training Day 1, our resident Apache/Austrian Hubert brought Austrian fare: Schweinsbraten (pork roast in a rich broth served on toasted rolls), Kasekrainer (cheese sausage), traditional Bratwurste and some elk sausage for good measure. The smell of this traditional European fare wafted across the race course, and quite a few German and Austrian coaches managed to find an excuse to stop by for a taste of home.


Hubert at the grill

The coaches check out our fare

On Training Day 2, we grilled Silver Salmon and served it on rolls with cream cheese, dill, capers, red onion and fresh chives. We also baked chocolate chip cookies on the grill that we served hot to our crew. The smell of grilling salmon attracted Don Dressler, our Forest Service representative, known as “Snow Ranger Don.” He pointed out that salmon is NOT native to the slopes of Beaver Creek, so we ensured it could not escape into the wild by eating it.

Salmon on the grill

On Training Day 3, the crew grilled 100% Black Angus burgers and Kiełbasa along with more freshly-baked cookies. As the Angus burgers merrily browned on the grill, the FIS finish line referee made his way up lift 9. Seeing all the smoke from Golden Eagle, he radioed to Günter Hujara (the FIS Chief Race Director), concerned that one of the TV cameras atop the jump might be on fire. “Oh no”, Günter replied in his German accent, “Zat’s just zee Golden Eagle Bistro. Zey’re grilling right now. I have zee reservation.” In fact, at the end of the day our crew chief, Sean Norris, presented Günter with a coveted ‘Saddle Up’ Talon Crew hat, making him one of the crew!

Crew hat presentation

On the Downhill Race Day, the crew grilled homemade pizza with more cookies (a favorite of cycling workers on the course) as well as a huge New York Strip courtesy of our section chief, KW. This finely-marbled steak was the culprit that caused the smoke to waft across the Golden Eagle jump and attract my attention at the bottom.

Hot Cookies!

The Golden Eagle Bistro is a very exclusive sort of restaurant, and reservations are recommended although all are welcome (as long as our crew is fed first). If you do stop by, a $5 donation is suggested to help defray costs.

We’d certainly like to think of ourselves as the avant guarde of slope-side cuisine, but we have heard rumors of ribs, marinated elk and other amazing creations on the slopes this year. Talon Crew — what’s on your grill? Please comment below!

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