Aspen is back on World Cup radar
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Aspen’s World Cup stock is on the rise after Park City Mountain Resort in Utah announced Friday it would no longer host the international alpine skiing event.
Park City’s withdrawal, which ends an 18-year relationship, leaves Beaver Creek as the only American venue on the World Cup tour for the 2004-05 season.
“It certainly opens the door for Aspen,” said Jeff Hanle, Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman, Monday. “We have a good relationship with the USSA, we’re behind the World Cup, and I think the community is behind the World Cup.”
Hanle said USSA and Skico officials will begin discussions soon, and the Skico will shoot for holding the event over Thanksgiving weekend ” the former slot for the Aspen World Cup.
But Vail may be eyeballing the opportunity to add another World Cup event to its schedule, which could leave Aspen hanging yet again.
Next year, Vail/Beaver Creek will host the World Cup downhill and super G races the first week of December, while Park City, which traditionally kicked off the World Cup tour in mid-November, was slated to host the giant slalom and slalom events.
In an article in the Summit Daily News, Cara Herron, director of marketing for the Vail Valley Foundation, said Vail has plans to snag the event and roll it into its early December event.
“The scenario we would propose and be most comfortable with would be them coming [to Beaver Creek] for that entire week,” Herron said. “Beaver Creek has picked up races from Utah in the past when their snow conditions haven’t allowed them. So, it’s definitely a viable option for us to do that.”
But Hanle doesn’t think it would be sensible to have that many World Cup races in one venue and therefore doesn’t feel Vail proposes a threat.
“It’s not an either/or for us and Beaver Creek,” he said.
The World Cup did not return to Aspen this year because the USSA was unable to provide the necessary funding.
“We were always open [to the World Cup],” Hanle said. “Our attitude is always, ‘Yes, we want the races.’
“All the parties involved have always wanted to have the races in Aspen.”
Tom Bakaly, Park City city manager, said he was sorry to see the event go, but the cost of holding the event ” roughly $1 million ” became too much of a burden.
“We hate to see it go, it’s the end of an era for us,” he said. “[But] it’s difficult to ensure, and costly, that the event will come off in the middle of November.”
Snowmakers devoted an enormous amount of time to course preparation, Bakaly said, and the rest of the slopes suffered as a result. In short, the event hurt Park City more than it helped, but Bakaly said its loss will also be felt in other ways.
“The experience we had with the race over the years [was great]. We’d get a lot of the international visitors and team members,” he said. “It’s not a huge economic hit to us, but more of a cultural hit.”
[Steve Benson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]