Aspen World Cup course is ready for practice runs
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
ASPEN – The Aspen Mountain World Cup course not only holds enough snow already to virtually assure racing will go off as planned on Thanksgiving weekend, it has enough to accommodate the U.S. women’s team for two days of training later this week.
“It looks awesome. We’ve got plenty of snow. We’re so far ahead of the game right now, as far as snow goes,” said the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Pat Callahan, chief of course, who was on the slopes surveying the progress early Monday.
Local slopes received perhaps 3 inches from a weekend storm that was expected to pack a bigger wallop, according to forecasters. But the race course on the Lift 1A side of Aspen Mountain is, by design, a man-made affair. Snow guns already have been moved to other places on the mountain to prepare for opening day to the general public on Nov. 24, said chief of race Jim Hancock.
“As far as the actual course, we have enough snow to go right now,” he said.
The mountain will host a women’s giant slalom on Nov. 26 and a slalom on Nov. 27, but the U.S. team has been invited to practice on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 18-19. No racers are allowed on the course for five days before the race, Hancock said.
“It’s a favor to them – trying to get them just a little home-field advantage,” Hancock said.
The practice runs are a go, barring some “totally unforeseen circumstance,” he said. Spectators are welcome on the sidelines, Hancock added.
In addition, Friday is the “snow control date” for the races. Hancock said he plans to inspect the course with a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association official and, in all likelihood, give it the green light.
“There’s no doubt about it like there sometimes is,” he said.
Immediately after World Cup events, the mountain will play host to NorAm giant slalom races, with men’s competitions on Nov. 28-29 and women’s events on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. NorAm racing generally features skiers bidding for spots on the World Cup circuit, but Hancock expects men’s World Cup racers to compete on the Aspen Mountain course if they’re not training for the Dec. 2 downhill event at Beaver Creek.
“If they specialize in the giant slalom or slalom, and they’re not in training for the downhill, they’ll be here,” he predicted.
Men’s super G and giant slalom are scheduled Dec. 3-4 at Beaver Creek.
While opening day at Aspen Mountain is Thanksgiving Day, the opening at Snowmass has been moved up to Nov. 19. Dec. 10 remains the opening day for Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands.
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Nina O’Brien added to her career nationals haul and Laurenne Ross made her victory lap as the U.S. Alpine Championships got back to racing with the women’s super-G on Tuesday at Aspen Highlands.