Aspen’s World Cup `doesn’t happen’ without volunteers |

Aspen’s World Cup `doesn’t happen’ without volunteers

Jeremy Heiman

It takes more than a bunch of fast skiers to have a World Cup race.

Putting on a ski race with the world’s top racers requires a lot of volunteers, about 550 of them, to make Aspen’s World Cup race happen later this month.

Volunteers build the course, direct traffic, pack the snow, put up the banners, check the credentials and give the directions, among other tasks. Volunteers also guard the course, serve the coffee, pick up the trash and on and on.

“It doesn’t happen without them,” said Jayne Poss, event manager for the World Cup Organizing Committee.

Right now, a good number of volunteers are lined up for most of those jobs, but many more are needed.

“We’ve been very encouraged by the response,” Poss said. Some of this year’s volunteers are new, she said, but many of them have been working top-level ski races for many years.

Poss complimented Aspen’s past World Cup volunteers for being dependable and just plain good at what they do.

“They’re fantastic,” she said. “They always come in with such energy.”

More on-course volunteers are needed, including gate keepers, gate maintenance people and security workers, Poss said. To qualify for these jobs, volunteers must be strong intermediate skiers.

Also needed are people to hang sponsors’ banners at the finish area.

“They have to be early risers,” Poss said. But there’s a benefit: banner-hangers get the best race-watching vantage points. “They’re right where the action is,” she said.

Off-course jobs need to be filled, too. In World Cup base headquarters, volunteers are needed to check race team credentials, and others are needed to aid more than 200 members of the international press who will be coming to Aspen for the race.

Volunteers with table-waiting skills are needed, too. Two race teams will be served at the dining room at the Gant, where a few early-rising volunteer wait-persons are needed to serve breakfast and dinner.

Wait-staff volunteer shifts will start at 5:30 a.m. They’ll be done by 9:30, Poss said, in time to watch the racing.

Others are needed to direct traffic on Aspen Street, directing team cars and others to parking. Still more are needed to work the bleachers at the finish. This “stadium crew” will direct race fans to seats in the bleachers, monitor the crowd and pick up trash when the day is over.

“I can’t say all the jobs are glamorous, but they certainly are fun,” Poss said. Still another crew is needed to dispense complementary Caf de Colombia coffee to race viewers.

Caf de Colombia is the title sponsor for the World Cup races. The volunteers carry backpacks containing fresh, hot coffee, filling cups through a tube extending from a backpack.

So that people don’t work completely for free, the Aspen Skiing Company has arranged some freebies. Volunteer jobs vary in the amount of time they take, but they are loosely divided into four-shift jobs and two-shift jobs. Working four shifts, roughly equivalent to 24 hours, nets a volunteer free skiing the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of race weekend.

In addition, four-shift volunteers get a World Cup hat and fleece jacket and may attend a thank-you party for volunteers. Those who work two shifts, or about 12 hours, will receive a hat and attend the thank-you party.

Some volunteers, such as gate keepers, gate maintainers and headquarters workers, must attend training sessions in advance.

A number of volunteer job categories are already full, Poss said. Those include course construction, course slippers, ambassadors, hospitality and several committees.

Aspen land use planner Stan Clauson has been a volunteer for two previous World Cup events. He’s also worked on 20 years of children’s ski racing in New England and Aspen, with his own children as participants. Clauson is a member of this year’s timing crew and will attend a race timing clinic put on by the FIS (Federation Internationale du Ski) before the race.

“I’m trying to volunteer on a more professional level,” Clauson said, with a touch of irony.

In 1995, Clauson, as a hospitality volunteer, joined some foreign team members at their training table.

“The hospitality committee assigned me to go to dinner with these people and chat with them,” he said. “It’s very exciting to have the most significant racers in the world coming to Aspen.”

To inquire about volunteering for World Cup, call volunteer coordinator May Eynon at the Aspen Skiing Company or call the volunteer hotline, 923-0500.

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