Oh, say can you hear? | AspenTimes.com

Oh, say can you hear?

Tim Dudley

The best thing about a World Cup race is the noise.

The athletes are ripping, the race fast and furious; but the sounds at the finish line make it worth watching ” and listening to.

There are chants: “U.S.A., U.S.A.,” “Espana, Espana.” Cowbells of all clangs, dings and clonks. Wildly blowing horns. There’s even some sort of washboard contraption with a crank that rat-tat-tats support for certain racers.

And then there are roars of applause and songs coming from the contingents of various countries in their various languages.

It’s this national pride that gives World Cup races more flavor, more spice than X Games events, which draw larger crowds here. New to the World Cup and don’t know whom to root for? Just shake your bell hardest for Team U.S.A., Sweden, Monaco, or wherever.

The multinational atmosphere ” Italians, Swiss, Austrians, Germans, Canadians ” might compare to a miniature Olympics, World Cup soccer game or Tour de France stage. World Cup skiers are rock stars in European countries.

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Higher on the hill, the sounds are softer. There’s no announcer, no cheers from big crowds, no music on the PA system. Just a few scattered cowbells and the scrape of hard-driven skis on ice.

And when a girl misses a gate and puts her head in her hands in disappointment, there’s nothing but silence.

If you get a chance this weekend, head over to the base of lift 1A or any spot above where you can see and hear the action. Bring a bell, say hi to our foreign friends, then start chanting: “U.S.A., U.S.A.”