More Cup races in Aspen a possibility
November 25, 2006
American skier Lindsey Kildow’s trip to Aspen each year includes a stop at Poppycock’s for French toast.The 22-year-old may have at least one more chance to dine in Aspen this year. International Ski Federation race director Atle Skaardal confirmed Saturday a lack of snow has canceled Dec. 8 and 9’s World Cup races in St. Moritz, Switzerland. In haste to find another site to host the competition, the FIS has pinpointed Aspen as a potential suitor. “That would be awesome,” Kildow said. “I would be so psyched if they do that. I would love to race in Colorado. I love to race in the United States. It would be awesome in America and awesome for skiing in general.”A decision concerning a change of venue is expected today, Skaardal said.”I thank the [United States ski and Snowboard Association] for all their efforts done until now,” Skaardal said during a team captain’s meeting at the St. Regis. “Hopefully we can confirm something [today]. We’ll know by the time we leave.”
The prospect of hosting another competition just two week’s after the Winternational is daunting, but doable, Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle said Saturday. He wasn’t about to start pulling out his hair because the move is very much speculative. The FIS, USSA and Skico are in the midst of negotiations.”I really can’t lose any more hair. It’s all gone,” Hanle joked. “The operations will be a nightmare, but we can do it. People having nothing but good things to say about the event and are all smiles. It’s a lot of work, but the payoff is always there.”It took Skico three months to plan and execute Winternational, Hanle said. Completing a similar process in little less than two weeks would be quite a task. Lodging for athletes, food, press accommodations and many other logistics would need to be resolved.Complicating matters is the resort’s busy schedule during the next two weeks. The Storm the Stars Uphill race is next weekend, and Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk will open Dec. 9.”This sounds like fun, doesn’t it?” Hanle quipped. “This would take a big commitment from our crew and the community. It’d be a lot of work and there’d be some tired, cranky and grumpy people around here, but the end result would be great.”The canceled St. Mortiz races, which was to follow next weekend’s trip to Lake Louise, Alberta, were slated to include a downhill, super G and super-combined (a shortened super G and slalom). Skaardal was hoping to host only the super-combined.
Aspen Mountain is capable of suiting that discipline.”The infrastructure is there,” said Hanle, referring to the existing giant slalom and slalom course. “If there ends up being a super G, we’d have to do some more snowmaking.”Chief of race Jim Hancock said Friday he was focused on today’s slalom and would wait until a firm announcement was made before formulating a plan of attack. He was, however, prepared for the challenge.”We’ve never done anything like this,” he said. “It’s going to take a fair amount of thought and adjustment, but we’re looking at it. There are a lot of complications and after a few days, we’ll know exactly what this all entails.”Discussions between the USSA and their sponsors are ongoing, Hanle said. And television rights could ultimately determine whether Aspen hosts a second race.
Other options are being explored, Hanle said. The races could be canceled, or may be held at Beaver Creek.The FIS also will decide Wednesday whether to host men’s and women’s races in Val D’Isere, France, which also lacks snow, Skaardal said. The potential for multiple men’s and women’s races in Aspen is “not out of the realm of possibility,” Hanle said. If Aspen is called upon, Hanle said the resort will be ready.”It’s in the hands of the business right now,” he added. “Now all we can hope for is cold weather and snow.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.