The 2015 World Ski Championships have introduced a new set of athletes to the snow: Cheerleaders.
The Championship was held February 2-15 in Beaver Creek, Colorado and marks the first time ever to have slopeside cheerleaders. The cheerleaders are part of the Vail Valley Foundation’s World Championships vision.
With the event being held in the US and the theme being “Americana,” organizer for the Vail Valley Foundation and the Vail International Dance Festival Martha Brassel said they asked themselves, “What’s Americana to us? And it’s cheerleaders.”
“Who doesn’t love beautiful, all-American women representing our country?” Brassel said.
Majority of the cheerleaders have professional cheer and dance backgrounds, including the Denver Nuggets, Carolina Panthers, New York Knicks, the Colorado Mammoth professional lacrosse team, and even Princess Cruise lines.
“From the beginning, we really felt that we had this great opportunity to show the world how America celebrates major sports,” Vail Valley Foundation President Ceil Folz said.
Kris Ashley, former Knicks dancer and director of the cheerleaders, said that “nothing about this [I would say] is typical for a dance team.”
“The elevation is a huge challenge, for sure… Just to breathe, to get through a minute and a half routine, is one thing in Denver. It’s another thing when you get up to Beaver Creek. And then it’s a whoooole other thing when you put it in the snow, because you’re using all of your stabilization muscles.”
Ashley also says that there is not a “set” spot for the cheerleaders.
“We’re not set down at the sidelines at the basketball court; we’re not set at the 50-yard line at the football field. We’re up in the grandstands. We’re over in the VIP area. We’re in Après Avon. We’re at the International Tent in Beaver Creek village. We perform at Solaris plaza before the awards ceremonies.”
Though it’s a very different scene than most cheerleaders are used to, the fans are still the same.
World Ski Championships cheerleader Dee Liang said that “the fans bring so much energy” and that they feed off of each other.
“Are you cheerleaders?” people ask through the event. The girls give them a big million-dollar smile and answer yes, yes they are.
Director Kris Ashley said during tryouts she knew what kind of person she was looking for – “a beautiful person, inside and out.”
“We’re making history,” Ashley said.
Sources: Deadspin.com and VailDaily.com
Images: Val Valley Foundation
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