Team event takes center stage at Aspen World Cup Finals, without USA
The quest for individual titles in the World Cup Finals will take a breather today for the alpine team event.
The teams, comprised of three men and three women each, will square off against one another in a head-to-head slalom. Two men and two women from the six-person teams participate per round. The losers in each round are eliminated until a champion is crowned.
The U.S. Ski Team decided it couldn’t participate in what is considered a fan-friendly event.
“Entries in the team event require six athletes — three men and three women,” the U.S. team said in a statement by Patrick Riml, alpine director. “The USA did not have sufficient technical athletes qualify for World Cup Finals. Other U.S. technical athletes are competing in the NorAm Finals Friday in Quebec, and were unable to be in Aspen.
“The team event is an important part of the FIS program,” Riml’s statement continued. “But with career significance of points gained from racing in the NorAm Cup Finals, it was important that those athletes have that opportunity.”
A ski team official said other countries might also have trouble fielding a team for the event.
The World Cup circuit has added the team event to recent World Championships and it will be added to the Olympic lineup for 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Instead of individual runs in a race against the clock, the racers compete side by side, with the winner crossing the finish line first. It’s much like the pro racing formal made famous by Woody Creek’s Bob Beattie.
“The alpine team event made its FIS World Championship debut in 2005, and in the parallel format in 2011,” the International Ski Federation said on its website.
The team event will start at 10:30 a.m. with the finish at the base of Lift 1A.
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.