Aspen World Cup races a go |

Aspen World Cup races a go

ASPEN ” Jim Hancock finally received the words he’s been so eager to hear: The return of America’s Downhill on Aspen Mountain is a go.

Hancock, the Aspen Winternational’s chief of race, skied the Ruthie’s course with International Ski Federation and U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association officials early Friday. Next weekend’s downhill ” the first on Ajax since 1995 and the first for women here since 1988 ” plus super G and a slalom events, were confirmed shortly thereafter.

The downhill is scheduled Friday, Dec. 7; the super G will run Saturday, Dec. 8 and the slalom is Sunday, Dec. 9.

“It’s a great feeling,” Hancock said. “I don’t think anyone here the last couple of days wasn’t confident, but it’s nice to have the official word. … It’s good for moral for everybody to know that their hard work paid off.”

Sparse early snowfall and unseasonably warm temperatures in early November cast doubt on Aspen’s ability to host a downhill ” the sport’s renowned event. Prospects improved less than two weeks ago when consistent cold temperatures allowed crews to make great strides with snowmaking.

Hancock met with officials Tuesday for the mountain’s snow control date ” the time, 10 days before the projected first race, when officials chart the progress and determine if races are ultimately feasible ” at which point they decided, per usual, to delay a decision.

While he was “cautiously optimistic,” in a conversation with The Aspen Times on Tuesday, Hancock admitted there was much work to be done.

That is still the case. Hancock expects to run isolated snowguns in the coming days, and crews are working to spread out piles of manmade snow to procure a hard racing surface.

But crews can move forward knowing one more major hurdle has been cleared.

“It’s all systems go,” Hancock said. “The pressure is fully on now.”

For more on the decision and race preparations, see Saturday’s Aspen Times.

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