U.S. Alpine Championships are coming to Highlands instead of NorAm Finals in April
Goodbye, NorAms. Hello, U.S. championships.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced Thursday the planned NorAm Cup Finals, previously scheduled from April 5 to 16 at Aspen Highlands, have been canceled and will be replaced with the 2021 U.S. Alpine Championships from April 5 to 14, also at Highlands. The event will include men’s and women’s downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and combined.
The change occurred due to strict travel restrictions between U.S. and Canada related to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the U.S. ski team news release, “Aspen was quick to step up, expressing interest in hosting the U.S. Alpine Championships at Aspen.”
“Despite no shortage of challenges this season, our teams are meeting them head-on, and Nationals caps off our biggest event year ever, thanks to amazing venues, comprehensive safety protocols and a deep appreciation for athletic achievement,” said John Rigney, Aspen Skiing Co.’s senior vice president, in the news release. “Aspen and its alpine racing community are thrilled to give Team USA athletes the opportunity to compete for a National Championship this year at Aspen Highlands.”
The event remains contingent on local and state approvals related to the pandemic. The races will take place after Highlands has closed to public skiing for the season.
It wasn’t announced whether spectators will be allowed, but if the event falls in line with other local races this winter, it seems unlikely. Aspen also is hosting the Freeski and Snowboard World Championships, as well as a World Cup event, beginning next week at Buttermilk Ski Area. Both events will occur in a controlled bubble environment without spectators.
“The Aspen Snowmass community has been a strong supporter of alpine ski racing for over 60 years hosting events at all levels,” said Eric Webster, director of events for U.S. Ski & Snowboard, in the news release. “We are excited to partner with Aspen Snowmass and AVSC this spring to host the U.S. Alpine Championships. Thank you to Aspen Skiing Co., AVSC, and the Aspen community for making these races possible.”
The Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club, which manages the Stapleton Training Center at Highlands that will host the races, will be in charge of most of the on-course maintenance. Aspen also is scheduled to host the U.S. Alpine Tech Championships in 2022, an event it had been scheduled to host in 2020 before it was canceled due to the pandemic.
“The Stapleton Training Center at Aspen Highlands continues to be an incredible resource for our Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club athletes,” AVSC Executive Director Mark Godomsky said in the news release. “In a season where many clubs have struggled to secure consistent and quality training space, we feel incredibly lucky to work with Aspen Snowmass to provide safe, productive training on this world-class venue. We are excited to welcome others to Aspen Highlands and the Stapleton Training Center this spring for the U.S. Alpine Championships and are grateful for the opportunity to host races, especially a series of this caliber, this season.”
The last major alpine skiing event Aspen hosted was the 2017 World Cup Finals, which included Mikaela Shiffrin clinching her first overall championship. Prior to that, Aspen had been a fairly regular stop on the alpine World Cup calendar.
The U.S. championships are scheduled to begin April 5 with the men’s slalom national championship and conclude April 16 with the women’s slalom national championship. The event also will include the national junior championships.
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