‘Ski Town, Race Town’ celebrates the history of ski racing in Aspen
April 12, 2018
A new book published by Aspen Skiing Co. uses the 2017 World Cup Finals as an entry point to exploring the seven-decade legacy of racing in Aspen.
As the big week of races approached last year, and the world's eyes turned to Aspen Mountain, Skico executive John Rigney came up with the idea of making a book about it. He brought a simple pitch to Skico community engagement director — and former magazine editor — Michael Miracle.
"He said, 'I think this is going to be special enough that we should commemorate it — let's make a book,'" Miracle, who co-edited "Ski Town, Race Town," recalled at a book release party at the Limelight Hotel in early April. "And what started as a modest proposal of a hundred pages or so of a commemorative book about the Finals turned into this 240-page behemoth."
Miracle teamed with Christin Cooper-Taché, the former World Cup racer and Olympic silver medalist, to put the book together. It is indeed a behemoth, tracking the seismic impact of racing on Aspen and races since the Roch Cup days, with loads of historic images, Aspen racing posters from a span of 67 years, photo essays by Dan Bayer depicting the people and objects of the World Cup in Aspen, Q&As with ski-racing icons from Bob Beattie to Resi Stiegler, along with narratives of the action in Aspen at the 2017 Finals capped by Mikaela Shiffrin hoisting the crystal globe as she captured her first overall World Cup title here.
The centerpiece of the book is a narrative of the America's Downhill course by World Cup vet A.J. Kitt. It combines overhead photos of each section of the iconic course with Kitt's descriptions, from the start house to the finish line and 19 distinct features in between.
Cooper-Taché said that Bob Beattie was a guiding light on the project and led the co-editors off the slopes to capture the culture and history of racing in Aspen.
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"With Bob's spirit in mind, we said, 'What is it Aspen does and embraces about ski racing that makes it so special,' and I think this book reflects that," she said. "It's all about how ski racing made this town and how the town still relates and reacts to great skiers and the inclusive spirit of skiing."
"Ski Town, Race Town" is not a standard coffee table book. With a soft-cover and a nontraditional design, it's more of an art object. Designer Michael Aberman chose fonts based on their visual resonance with the sport and he used eight different stocks of paper, including three that are meant to reflect types of snow on a race course: corduroy, ice and slush.
"Skiing is so much about materials and feelings and sensations," Aberman said, "so putting that into the book was important," Aberman said.
The timing of the book's release — as ski season is ending in Aspen, 13 months after the Finals was here and two months after the Winter Olympics — is odd, but it wasn't the editors' original intent. "Ski Town, Race Town" was due for release at Christmas. But, as Cooper-Taché explained, they took more time to get it right.
"The Aspen Skiing Co. at every moment when we said 'We're not there yet, we need more time, we need more pages, we need more money,' they said 'Yes' at every step of the way," she told the crowd at the release party. "I think because of that we created a book that may last and may say something essential about Aspen."
‘Ski Town, Race Town’ is on sale at the SkiCo’s Aspen Shop for $79.
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