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Aspen could become stop on World Cup

Although Aspen didn’t land a World Cup ski race for next season, there is hope that it will regain a regular spot on the circuit, according to Bill Marolt, president and CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.

“Everything the community has done has been the right thing,” Marolt told The Aspen Times in an interview Friday from Slovenia, where the International Ski Federation (FIS) held its annual meeting. As a native Aspenite, he is particularly interested in Aspen becoming a regular venue.

FIS officials and the athletes “really had a great time in Aspen” when World Cup races were held here for the first time in 3 1/2 years last November, Marolt said. “They’re looking forward to coming back.”

Aspen Mountain hosted a men’s super-G and a slalom race last Thanksgiving weekend. The successful races allowed the Aspen Skiing Co. to prove to the international ski crowd that early-season races could be pulled off here.

Nevertheless, the successful effort wasn’t enough to earn a return engagement for the 1999-2000 season. Aspen was awarded a women’s super-G race and a technical race for a date to be determined in fall 2000, Marolt said. Aspen vs. Canada Two Aspen representatives – Skico Chief Operating Officer John Norton and Chief of Race Jim Hancock – held out hope that Aspen could land a men’s downhill next season so they attended the FIS meeting in Slovenia.

They knew going into the meeting that the one slim hope of hosting a race would be at Canada’s expense. Whistler hasn’t been able to host a men’s downhill for the last few seasons – including last season – due to the weather.

Neither Whistler nor the FIS wanted to try races again there, but Lake Louise made a bid for the men’s downhill. The Lake Louise, Alberta, course had hosted women’s races previously, but hadn’t been certified for men’s races. That changed when the FIS toured the course this spring.

Hancock said the FIS was reluctant to award the race to Aspen, which would have given the United States three events. “Canada was basically going to end up with nothing,” he said.

The downhill eyed by Aspen was given to Lake Louise.

Also for next season, the FIS awarded men’s technical events to Park City, Utah; and a men’s downhill to Beaver Creek on the first weekend in December.

Park City, home of the U.S. Ski Team, traditionally gets early-season technical events.

Beaver Creek earned the downhill after hosting the 1999 Alpine World Ski Championships last February.

Marolt said women’s “test events” will also be held on the downhill course at Snow Basin, the Utah resort that will host the 2002 Olympic downhill races. Tough competition Hancock acknowledged Aspen faces tough competition to get back on the men’s World Cup ski race schedule.

Beaver Creek built ongoing goodwill from the FIS by hosting the World Championships. Utah resorts can count on serving as venues because World Cup races must be held before the Olympics take place there.

Like Marolt, Hancock said Aspen’s troubles in landing a race didn’t stem from displeasure among the ski community. He said he didn’t hear any grumbling in Slovenia about Aspen’s races.

“This is the whole FIS world at this convention. We don’t have any indication it’s displeasure,” Hancock said. “Aspen’s a top site. They want to come back.”

The full World Cup schedule for 1999-2000 was supposed to be posted on the U.S. Ski Team web site – located at http://www.usskiteam.com – today.


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