Ready for World Cup? |

Ready for World Cup?

Steve Benson
Amid patches of grass, a lone snow gun sits idly under Lift 1A Wednesday. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.

The opening of the Alpine World Cup races on Aspen Mountain is only 15 days away, and relatively warm weather has dominated since the Halloween storm that dumped about a foot of snow. But the Aspen Skiing Co.’s spokesman said there’s no cause for concern.”Things look great,” said Jeff Hanle. “We need more cold weather, but with only a few more days [of snowmaking], we’ll have the course ready to go.”

Hanle said crews have been blowing snow on the Straw Pile and Fifth Avenue runs, where both the giant slalom and slalom races will be held, but daytime efforts have been hampered recently. “When we had the cold weather, [snowmaking crews] worked it hard,” Hanle said. The recent warm spell has slowed things down, he admitted.Mounds of manmade snow have been stockpiled on the slopes near Shadow Mountain; the piles will remain there until it’s cold enough to spread them out, Hanle said. “If the snow’s in a pile, it doesn’t melt as quickly,” he said. “When it’s ready, they’ll get out there and [groom it].

“I guarantee when it’s cold, they work hard whether we have a World Cup or not – they’ll get out and make snow round the clock if they can.” Hanle said snowcats have been packing the upper portions of Aspen Mountain, Highlands and Snowmass, where about 3 to 6 inches of new snow has fallen in the past couple of days. A week ago, the top of the Burn at Snowmass looked and felt like midwinter. Before it was packed, about 18 inches of light powder sat on top of an equally deep base and turns at the top were bottomless. Despite the rumors floating around, Hanle said there are no plans to open Snowmass early, though anything is possible.

“It’s very dependent on snow right now – cold temps and snow,” he said. “I would say we’ll just keep our fingers crossed for more snow.” And we might get it. The National Weather Service is calling for a chance of snow showers and cooler weather through the weekend. High temperatures are expected to remain in the mid-30s. Steve Benson’s e-mail address is

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