The historic Bingham Cup awaits World Cup’s fastest
What the heck is the Bingham Cup?”Everybody’s talking about the Bingham Cup, but I don’t know what that is,” says Aspen’s own world-class ski racer, Beth Madsen.Actually, the Bingham Cup has been one of many facets in Aspen’s ski racing scene. It’s just not one of the more visible elements.The Bingham Cup has its roots back in Aspen’s early skiing history, beginning with the first ski race ever hosted here, the Southern Rocky Mountain Downhill and Slalom Championships.The success of that event spawned the Rocky Mountain Championships of 1940 and the National Championships of 1941.In 1946, the Aspen Ski Club awarded the Roch Cup to the winner of downhill and slalom races that were held that year. The Roch Cup gained international notoriety when the town hosted the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) World Alpine Championships, which drew top ski racers from around the world in every discipline.By 1951, Robert “Budge” Bingham, one of the local pioneers of skiing, decided that women racers needed their own version of the Roch Cup, so he donated one to the cause.Since then, the cup has been awarded to the woman racer who accumulates the most points overall – combined totals from the downhill, giant slalom or slalom. It’s been an intermittent award, because the races haven’t been held with any regularity.But over the years, the Bingham Cup has been awarded to a number of the top women racers in the world, according to a history of the cup compiled by the Aspen Skiing Company:-Canadian Nancy Greene won the Bingham Cup in March 1965 and again in 1968, when the cup was presented to her in Wagner Park by famed newscaster and ski enthusiast Lowell Thomas.-In March 1976, Danielle Debernard of France finished second in both GS and downhill to finish first in the women’s combined standings in Aspen.-In March 1981, Tamara McKinney of the U.S. came from behind to win the World Cup GS overall and the Bingham Cup.-In March 1982, the Bingham Cup went to Marile Epple of West Germany.-In March 1988, Aspen hosted its first women’s-only World Cup race. Anita Wachter of Austria was the winner that year.The only time the cup has been awarded to a local came in 1962, when Sharon Pecjak, a student at Aspen High School, won the Bingham Cup. That may explain why an experienced local racer like Madsen, who spent a decade on the U.S. Ski Team and four more years as a professional racer, isn’t really aware of the Bingham Cup.In 1988, Madsen finished sixth overall among the World Cup slalom racers in Aspen. But even if she didn’t win the Bingham Cup, she did manage one of her best finishes ever. After completing the first run of the slalom in 13th place, Madsen was the fastest racer in the second run and moved up to sixth place.”There’s actually been a substantial hiatus with the Bingham Cup. It hasn’t been awarded since 1988,” says Toby Morris, director of the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.That hiatus will end this year.
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