Still plenty of room in Aspen’s tourist accommodations for World Cup Finals in March | AspenTimes.com

Still plenty of room in Aspen’s tourist accommodations for World Cup Finals in March

A crowd cheers U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin as she crosses the finish line and takes 1st place in the women's slalom in November 2015 in Aspen. Larger crowds are expected for the World Cup Finals in March.

Tourist accommodations at Aspen and Snowmass Village are only about half full as of right now for the World Cup Finals week in March, but Aspen Skiing Co. officials said they are expecting a full house.

The latest occupancy report indicates that advance bookings are pacing ahead of last year for the same week, according to Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, a central reservation agency. Without the Finals, occupancy for that period would likely be weaker, he said.

Nevertheless, there are still a lot of rooms available during the illustrious event, which runs March 15 to 19 at Aspen Mountain. Tomcich said there might be a misperception among travelers that the town already is booked because of the international skiing event.

The 25 top men's and women's racers in each discipline on the World Cup circuit this season will compete in eight speed and technical races as well as a mixed-gender team race.

“We have 100 percent confidence that the resort will be full.”

— Skico’s Jeff Hanle

A downhill race will be held for both men and women on opening day, March 15. That will be followed by a super G on March 16 and the Nations Team Event on March 17.

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The men's and women's slalom and giant slalom races will be staggered over the weekend, March 18 and 19.

The winners in each discipline will be crowned during the finals as will the overall World Cup points champions.

This will be the first time the World Cup Finals have been held outside of Europe since 1997, so it's a rare chance for U.S. race fans to see an event of this magnitude.

Killington, Vermont, attracted an estimated 16,000 and 13,000 spectators on Nov. 26 and 27, respectively, for women's technical events. It was the first time the resort has ever hosted World Cup events and the first time the circuit has visited the eastern U.S. since 1991, according to the U.S. Ski Team.

Killington had the advantage of drawing from nearby metropolitan areas.

Aspen Skiing Co. is expecting thousands of spectators for the World Cup Finals. It's typically a busy time of the season as spring break gets cranking.

"We have 100 percent confidence that the resort will be full," said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle.

As many as 20 percent of all rooms available will be absorbed by ski teams — racers, coaches, support staff — and media during the Finals, Skico Vice President of Sales and Special Events John Rigney said in October.

"I think it will be a very busy week," he said at that time.

Aspen has typically hosted women's technical events in November in recent seasons and drawn modest crowds. For the Finals, it will erect larger grandstands, enlarge the VIP section and install a jumbotron screen somewhere in Aspen in addition to the one at the finish area. A jumbotron will also likely be placed at Snowmass Ski Area, according to organizers. There also will be spectating opportunities along the edge of the racecourses, but details haven't been worked out yet.

Hanle said Skico isn't planning on running any promotions during the Finals week because of the expectation that the resorts will be full.

scondon@aspentimes.com

WORLD CUP FINALS

March 15: Men’s and women’s downhill

March 16: Men’s and women’s super G

March 17: Nations Team Event

March 18 and 19: Men’s and women’s slalom and giant slalom

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