Aspen puts on its best face should Cup schedule change | AspenTimes.com

Aspen puts on its best face should Cup schedule change

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Before the crowd of nearly 1,000 could swarm around Sweden’s Anja Paerson to congratulate her on a World Cup slalom win on Saturday, a hopeful voice rang out over the race-course sound system.

David Perry, Aspen Skiing Co. vice president of marketing and sales, encouraged the crowd to not only applaud the efforts of all visiting athletes, but to show their appreciation for the World Cup officials who chose Aspen as a stop on the international racing tour.

The applause that followed Perry’s request, Skico heads hope, will serve as an example of the enthusiasm the resort would show for a place on the World Cup schedule again next year.

As it stands now, only two North American resorts ? Park City, Utah, and Lake Louise, Alberta, ? have been tapped for next season’s FIS events. However, Perry and the rest of Skico’s marketing crew haven’t given up hope that Aspen will be included in the 2003 World Cup schedule, which will be released early next year.

“Next year’s schedule is not completely final ? it gets locked in in the spring,” Perry said. “There’s always a chance, but in the current situation, we’re not on the calendar.”

Extra schmoozing wasn’t required to impress visiting FIS officials this weekend, Perry said. If the racing committee is considering Aspen for future World Cup events, Friday and Saturday’s performances should speak for themselves.

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“All you can do at this point is put on a great race, or two great races, and that happened,” he said. “The organizing people on the mountain did a fantastic job putting on a great race. The FIS officials were extremely happy, and they know that we can deliver for an early season race.”

Perry said he and other Aspen officials definitely “expressed our willingness to pick up an event” next year should another locale fail to fulfill the FIS’ needs.

In fact, this willingness almost earned Aspen an extra World Cup event this year when Lake Louise, host of a men’s super G race, wasn’t sure if the resort could prepare enough snow to create a race course. (Though Aspen was tapped as a possible replacement, Lake Louise snowmakers managed to pull their course together on time.)

Locals also did their part to pull off an impressive weekend of racing, Perry said, from the cooperation between the lodging and dining communities to friendly residents who make visiting athletes feel at home.

“It really was tremendous, and the USSA and the FIS folks see all of that,” he said. “The teams from around the world love coming to Aspen.

“It truly is one of their favorite stops, because the local people treat them so well.”

The loss of a Thanksgiving weekend World Cup race ? an internationally recognized event that serves as a kickoff to the Aspen ski season ? would leave a large hole in the Skico’s special events schedule. (And, with only one more year left in the Skico’s contract with ESPN’s X Games, Aspen could conceivably be shorted a second special event during the 2003-2004 ski season.)

However, until FIS officials finalize next season’s World Cup racing schedule without an Aspen layover, Skico’s marketing team won’t consider replacing it with another high-profile event.

“If it comes to pass that we have no chance at a World Cup event, we’ll look at our options,” Perry said.

[Jennifer Davoren’s e-mail address is jenniferd@aspentimes.com]

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