Opening ceremony hits Snowmass as Aspen World Cup gets underway |

Opening ceremony hits Snowmass as Aspen World Cup gets underway

First of two downhills is Friday

Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde takes part in the World Cup bib draw on Thursday, March 2, 2023, at Snowmass Base Village.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

While DJ Naka G played music, local ice skaters took to the rink to show off their moves, and — just like that — the Aspen World Cup had kicked off on a sunny, but chilly, Thursday in Snowmass Base Village. There were après drinks, U.S. ski team introductions, and, of course, the bib draw. The evening finished with a torchlight parade down Fanny Hill and fireworks.

Bib draw

Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club kids headed onto the ice rink holding flags representing countries athletes come from. While some carried the flags, others paraded out in cowboy hats and the bibs the athletes were waiting to pick. The cowboy hats were no ordinary hats. Underneath each was a bib number, and athletes took turns picking a kid to take a hat from.

First up to pick a bib number from a cowboy hat was Canadian James Crawford, who chose bib No. 8. American Travis Ganong, who recently announced his retirement from ski racing, was the third to choose and selected bib 14.

As for the rest of the U.S. team, Ryan Cochran-Siegle will race fifth, Jared Goldberg will race 21st, Bryce Bennett will race 29th, Sam Morse will race 38th, Erik Arvidsson will race 43rd, and Kyle Negomir will race 55th.

Other notable draws are Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt in 15 and Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde — known today largely for being the boyfriend of Mikaela Shiffrin — in spot 11.

Press conference

At a press conference just before the bib draw, the U.S athletes discussed the upcoming race, their training runs, and offered some words of gratitude to Ganong, whose final U.S. World Cup races will be this weekend in Aspen.

“It’s almost an advantage for us because we’ve all seen this hill a lot more than Europeans,” Ganong said about the first training being canceled on Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s a big deal.”

Cochran-Siegle seconded the home-field advantage, adding that another benefit of the training run being canceled is that the skiers can maintain their energy after long travel days and altitude changes.

“If we get to do training runs or not, we’re all getting the same opportunities. Every racer gets their one training run, and you’ve got to make the best of it,” he said.

It was easy to see the camaraderie the athletes have with each other, especially when they each took a minute to reflect on their time with Ganong. The team laughed as they shared their ideas of mandatory Aspen tourist things their European counterparts should do before racing. They suggested things such as hiking every mountain and biking to Leadville and back — activities sure to tire out the competition.

The first race of the weekend is the first of two men’s downhills, which begins at 11:30 a.m. on Friday from the base of the Shadow Mountain lift on Aspen Mountain. The U.S. ski team is scheduled to hold an autograph signing at 4 p.m. on Friday from Gondola Plaza.

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