Here’s some advice for ski fans hoping to see the World Cup finals back in North America: Keep your collective fingers crossed.
Aspen Skiing Co., representing Aspen Mountain, put in one of two bids to host the 2017 World Cup finals. The other bid comes from Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
The winning bid will be announced in June.
“The bidding process is in motion,” said John Rigney, Skico vice president of sales and events. “We’ve got the ball rolling, and people are going to be excited. The World Cup finals is the best of the best.”
Rigney represented Aspen Mountain during the bidding process in Zurich, Switzerland.
The World Cup finals would bring both the top men and women competitors to Aspen. There would be nine events — slalom, giant slalom, super giant slalom and downhill with the men and women each competing, plus the coed team event that consists of four to six team members, with at least two men and two women on the team.
Vail was the last American venue to host the World Cup finals — in 1997.
“The World Cup finals is the big finish of the season for the racing community,” Rigney said. “It’ll be awesome to have both the men and women.”
Aspen Mountain hasn’t hosted a men’s World Cup race since the 2001-02 season.
One large factor going against the Aspen bid is the potential test event schedule for 2018 Winter Games host city Pyeongchang, South Korea. In most cases, Olympic test events are held two years prior to the actual Olympic events. The International Ski Federation is currently considering running the South Korean races immediately after the 2017 World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
If that’s the case, that would put the test event schedule near the end of February 2017, just a few weeks before the World Cup finals in March. Getting all of the athletes, equipment and personnel to Colorado on time would be challenging.
The International Ski Federation was expected to make its decision between Aspen and Lenzerheide last month, but uncertainty with the Pyeongchang Olympic test scheduling prompted the organizers to postpone the decision until June.
In a story that ran in Ski Racing magazine, Calum Clark, the vice president of events for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, said Aspen put its best foot forward making the bid.
“It was a really good bid with a really strong commitment to alpine ski racing,” Clark said. “While it isn’t concluded yet, Aspen has put itself in the best place possible considering that these external effects on the world schedule had an impact on an immediate answer, which is unfortunate.”
Clark called Aspen Mountain an outstanding four-event hill that won’t require wholesale changes to dirt work, snowmaking and resort operations to make the event happen.
Accommodating the large influx of fans in the Aspen-Snowmass area for the World Cup finals in March would be challenging but not impossible.
“It’ll take a community-wide effort,” Rigney said. “Where there’s a collective will, there’s a way. Aspen-Snowmass is a resort community that’s willing to work together.”
Rigney also said that a World Cup event would put the eyes of the world on Aspen and put Aspen back in the same category as some of the more iconic ski areas in the world.
“Aspen in March is magical with the awesome skiing and sunshine,” he said. “Hosting the World Cup finals would add to the Aspen ski lore.”