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World Cup 2004 under threat

Steve Benson
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Due to a lack of funding, Aspen may be removed from the Women’s World Cup schedule in 2004-05, according to the Aspen Skiing Co. and the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA).

“It’s something that’s out of our control right now,” Jeff Hanle, Skico communications director, said Thursday. “We go over and beyond what most communities do [financially].”

The Aspen dates have been removed from the preliminary schedule, but a final decision won’t come until the end of this winter, Hanle said.

“It’s not a definitive no,” said Juliann Fritz, the public relations director for the USSA.

In an article from Ski Racing magazine, Annette Royle, the vice president of events for USSA, is quoted saying Aspen has held up its end of the deal.

“Aspen really wants the race and stepped up to the plate with everything they could, but the other financing isn’t in place,” she said.

According to the article, women’s non-downhill alpine World Cup events cost more than $1 million, and Aspen and the USSA are about half a million short. Royle added that the USSA is in the practice of releasing their schedules two years in advance, and it would be misleading to put Aspen on the schedule with unresolved funding issues.

“We are still going to try to find the financing,” Royle said.

Hanle said the Skico will continue to push for the World Cup, but if it fell through it wouldn’t be a disaster.

“We’ve got a lot of events coming, they’re new and they’re different – X Games has twice the audience of World Cup,” Hanle said. “We just move ahead, events evolve, and we keep changing with the market.

“Not to say we’re going away from tradition. We’ll do everything we can to keep World Cup and 24 hours of Aspen here.”

Aspen has hosted Thanksgiving weekend World Cup races several times in recent years, but was dropped from the 2003 schedule.

Royle said sponsorship is at the heart of the problem.

“Sponsorship dollars are getting harder and harder to find,” Royle said. “Even though Aspen is ready to invest – do anything – to keep the races, counting on other financing is too big of a risk.”

If Aspen is not added to the schedule by spring, Park City would be the only domestic appearance for the U.S. women’s ski team next season.

Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com


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