Aspen ski-race fans battle the elements
ASPEN ” A couple of hundred hardy souls endured the weekend’s wintry weather by cheering on women ski racers at the base of the Aspen Winternational World Cup race course.
During the Saturday and Sunday races, the crowd jumped up and down in the stands at bottom of Aspen Mountain, waving flags and sounding cowbells to bring their favorite racers to the finish line.
World Cup fans battled cold temperatures, blustery winds and dumping snow in order to make sure their countries were well represented.
“Ski racing fans are hard core, they are freezing out there,” said Aspenite Barb Frank from the VIP tent while sipping a cocktail. “Everyone should hug a ski racing fan because they are cold.”
Because the races were televised live in countries abroad, Aspenites supporting the Swedes made every effort to be noticed during the giant slalom races on Saturday.
“We try to stand out so relatives can see us,” said Katie Morlind, whose husband, Johan, is a native of Sweden and a longtime Aspen resident.
Morlind stood at the top of the bleachers with a handful of other Swedish supporters, who cheered on racer Anja Paerson.
Longtime Aspen resident and Swedish native Nette Joseph brought her mother, Inegerd Thonerfelth, to her first World Cup race. Thonerfelth was in Aspen for a vacation.
“It’s a beautiful place,” she said of the resort.
Corrine Baumgartner took a road trip from her home in Pasedena, Calif. to Aspen to cheer on Swiss racer Andrea Dettling, whom she grew up with Switzerland.
It was Baumgartner’s first World Cup event and she said it was worth the long drive.
“It took longer than I expected to get here and now I have to drive back on Sunday,” she said. “But I told her I would come to see her race.”
A group of 14 Croatian men huddled together in the middle of the stands, donning their country’s colors and cheering on racer Nika Fleiss.
“We came for skiing and the World Cup,” said one of the fans, adding his group is in Aspen for 10 days and staying at The Gant. “When we got here, there was not enough snow and now there is too much snow.”
Another Croatian fan said the men are being treated well by Aspen locals. Typically, the group kicks off ski season in Austria but decided to come to Aspen because of the World Cup.
“We as tourists, we are feeling very comfortable,” he said. “Everyone is very friendly.”
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The majority owner of the St. Regis Aspen Resort wants the Aspen business community to get behind a private-testing bubble for guests and employees. He’s also said talks with the hotel’s operator, Marriott, have been “productive” about regularly testing staff and guests.