Clubhouse Chronicles: Honoring heritage, celebrating community with Ajax Cup

The Audi Ajax Cup, benefiting the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, will be held on Thursday, Dec. 30, at Aspen Highlands

Chris Davenport
AVSC board president
Kristina Koznick, center, sprays champagne with the winning team at the base of the Stapleton Training Center after the 2020 Audi Ajax Cup on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, at Aspen Highlands.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

The Audi Ajax Cup, benefiting the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, is a dual giant slalom ski race with 16 teams competing head-to-head until one claims victory and is awarded the famed Gorsuch Cup.

It is the pinnacle event of the holiday season in Aspen. Not only does it bring together community members, ski racers, AVSC athletes and volunteers, but it emphasizes the things we love so much about skiing: friendly competition, ski racing legends and locals alike, fun auction items … the list goes on.

But mostly, it’s about the future of the sport, the young AVSC athletes that we work to get — and keep — on snow.

Aspen has deep roots in ski racing. We have hosted numerous World Cup downhill races (the most prestigious ski racing events outside of the Winter Olympics), most recently in 2017, and going all the way back to the FIS World Championships in 1950.

The Aspen ski racing scene started long before the inaugural Aspen World Cup. The first Aspen Roch Cup was hosted in 1937, nine years before the first chair lift, Lift One, was installed. At this time, racers would hike to the start at the top of the hill. By the time Aspen won the bid for the 1950 event, we were also celebrating the 22nd annual Andre Roch Cup Championships.

This history, along with the Audi Ajax Cup, has brought some of the most decorated and world-renowned ski racers to our slopes and town. From Bode Miller to Wendy Fisher, Alex Ferreira to Kristina Koznick Landa, and many more.

This year, the Ajax Cup pros feature long-time event veterans like Daron Rahlves, while also featuring some pros that are new to the Ajax Cup, but far from new to the art of ski racing, like Marc Girardelli, an Austrian and Luxembourgish skier with five World Cup wins. These athletes are legends in our sport, and our club and community thank them endlessly for their time and passion and for inspiring our young skiers.

While we owe so much to our history, heritage, legends and famed ski racers, at the end of the day, the Ajax Cup is an event intended to get and keep the youth of the Roaring Fork Valley on snow. AVSC serves one in three children from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, totaling 2,983 athletes year-round. From beginner skiers and snowboarders participating in our Aspen Supports Kids program to AVSC athletes heading out to represent our club and country at the Winter Olympics, our impact on the athletes, families and communities in this valley is as deep as our ski racing heritage.

Pro skier and AVSC Board President Chris Davenport

The Audi Ajax Cup is our largest fundraiser of the year. These funds directly impact scholarships, program fee subsidies and outreach for our athletes. We quite literally could not do what we do without the Ajax Cup.

So, that being said, we hope you will consider joining us this year for the 2021 Audi Ajax Cup on Thursday at Aspen Highlands. The pro race will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a fun outdoor benefit to follow. You don’t want to miss this.

Thank you to all our ski pros, athletes, sponsors, volunteers and staff that make this event and our mission possible.

We can’t wait to see you out there!

Head to for the auction, tickets and more information.

Clubhouse Chronicles is a behind-the-scenes column written by the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club that runs periodically in the Aspen Times sports section.