Ski-racing fans will be able to enjoy watching the best men and women alpine racers in the world on the same day on Aspen Mountain during the 2017 World Cup Finals, according to a tentative schedule for the event.
The proposed schedule calls for the event to open with a men’s downhill followed by a women’s downhill on March 15. The downhill training — also watched closely by race fans and the ski-racing media — would be held on Aspen Mountain March 13 and 14.
John Rigney, Aspen Skiing Co. vice president of sales and events, stressed that the schedule is only tentative this far in advance. Aspen was named the host resort of the 2017 World Cup Finals on Thursday at the International Ski Federation (FIS) Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
The finals will feature the top 30 racers in point standings in each of the four major events — downhill, super-G, giant slalom and slalom — rather than the entire ski teams of participating countries. The finals are the last races of the season and sometimes determine who gets the crown in the disciplines unless a racer has built up an insurmountable lead in points. The racer with the most points in each discipline receives a crystal globe at the conclusion of the finals.
The finals are behind only the Olympics and World Championships in stature in alpine ski racing.
After the event opens with a bang with the downhill, it will be followed by the other speed event. The super-G for men and women is scheduled on March 16.
March 17 will be a transition into the technical events. A dual-slalom team event will be the only race held.
The tentative schedule calls for Aspen Mountain to host a women’s slalom and a men’s giant slalom on March 18. The events will be flipped on March 19, with a women’s giant slalom and a men’s slalom.
Rigney said the racers likely would utilize all four Skico ski areas for training before the races.
The 2017 event will mark the first time in 20 years that the finals have been held in the U.S. It also will be the first time since 2001 the men’s tour has stopped in Aspen.
Rigney credited the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and specifically its former president and CEO, Bill Marolt, for helping Aspen get selected by FIS to host the finals.
In a statement released by the ski and snowboard association, Aspen native Marolt said, “The selection of Aspen for World Cup Finals illustrates the confidence the FIS Council has in Aspen as a classic World Cup community. Our team at the (ski and snowboard association) has worked closely with Aspen and FIS for several years in preparing an outstanding bid to welcome the world to America.”
U.S. Ski Team member Alice McKennis, who trained with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club while growing up in New Castle, said the chance to ski at Aspen Mountain gives her additional inspiration.
“As a club athlete racing at Aspen, I would always dream that someday I’d be able to race a World Cup on my home mountain,” she said in a statement through the ski and snowboard association. “But as a female speed skier, it didn’t seem likely. Now it is extremely motivating to know that if I work hard, I’ll be able to race World Cup downhill and super-G on home snow in 2017.”
“The selection of Aspen for World Cup Finals illustrates the confidence the FIS Council has in Aspen as a classic World Cup community.”
Bill Marolt, former head of USSA