After the races, go to the plaza |

After the races, go to the plaza

Janet Urquhart

The Gondola Plaza will take center stage after racers complete their World Cup runs on Aspen Mountain tomorrow and Saturday.

Street performers will take to the plaza Friday during a White Carnival from 2 to 4 p.m., following the women’s super G. On Saturday, after the conclusion of slalom racing, the plaza will take on a Latin flavor with an aprs-ski salsa street party, also from 2 to 4 p.m.

“We want to get the community and our visitors excited and involved in World Cup, both on and off the hill,” said Kerry Brennan, event marketing manager at the Aspen Skiing Co.

The plaza will become an expo center of sorts on both days, as national and local event sponsors set up booths from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Check out the booths for special promotions, giveaways and free product samples. The plaza is also the place to find official World Cup merchandise, like hats, T-shirts and the like.

In addition, the city of Aspen will be showing videos of historic race action, as well as a short video, “The Aspen Idea,” in the plaza.

The White Carnival will bring artistic aerialists and acrobats to perform for the crowd. The event promises a Cirque de Soleil feel, said Brennan. There will be magic, plate-spinning and Tarot card readings. Kids can enjoy free popcorn and face-painting.

From 3 to 4 p.m., racers will make a short appearance to sign autographs; free posters will be provided.

The awarding of the Bingham Cup to the super-G winner will take place on the plaza steps at 7 p.m. The ceremony will begin with Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club members descending the steps carrying flags of the countries represented in the World Cup racing. Skico President and CEO Pat O’Donnell will present the cup.

Following the ceremony, at 7:15 p.m., a torchlight parade will descend Little Nell. The public is invited to participate; children must be at least 10 years of age and be accompanied by an adult. Participants should sign up at the gondola ticket office by 6:45 p.m.

A fireworks display over Aspen Mountain will begin at 7:30 p.m., with coordinated music broadcast in the plaza.

Saturday’s post-race fun will feature the free salsa street party with music from Denver band Conjunto Colores. A tented stage with an open front will be erected in the plaza to house the band. Costumed “Carmen Mirandas” will teach the public how to salsa. Watch for a juggling, fire-breathing, card-hustling Zorro as well.

The events represent a significant expansion of the one-day White Circus that was quickly arranged to accompany men’s World Cup racing in Aspen two years ago, said Brennan.

“Last time, we were just trying to pull World Cup off,” she said. “This time we have had lots of time to plan and really try to make it special.”

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