Winternational: World Cup returns to Aspen
The Aspen Times
The World Cup makes its return to Aspen next week.
Course preparations are continuing on Aspen Mountain for Aspen Winternational 2014 — women’s World Cup races on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 29-30.
The top women ski racers in the world, on the technical side, will race in Aspen after a one-year hiatus.
There were no World Cup events in Aspen during the 2013-14 ski season.
But after that one-year break from the World Cup tour, the women return to Aspen coming off the momentum of a big Olympic year for a giant slalom on Saturday, Nov. 29, and a slalom on Sunday, Nov. 30.
All of the racing will be at Aspen Mountain on the Shadow Mountain side.
Officials this week announced the formal schedule for the 2014 Aspen Winternational, including the traditional Fireworks Extravaganza on the Little Nell ski slope on the night of Nov. 29 (8:15 p.m.).
There will be the traditional World Cup Kickoff Party on Friday, Nov. 28, at the Limelight Hotel in downtown Aspen.
The public bib draw for the races will be part of the party along with a special autograph signing session by members of the U.S. Ski Team.
“We are looking great with the courses,” said Jeff Hanle of the Aspen Skiing Co., who also serves as chief of press for the World Cup races in Aspen.
He said the Aspen Skiing Co. submitted all the data for the snow control date Wednesday. That information was sent to the FIS for the final go-ahead on the Aspen World Cup technical events.
“We are looking good to go,” Hanle said, adding that the snowmaking efforts ensured a ski base that meets FIS standards.
“And it’s nice to have the snow all around the course,” Hanle said. “That makes for good TV.”
Especially good early season television.
“The World Cup is fed around the world (on television) to dedicated ski racing fans,” Hanle said, adding that the Aspen exposure in those target markets is critical in the early season — especially Europe.
“We’ll be able to show that we have snow, we have races, we have pubic skiing,” Hanle said. “It’s a huge benefit for us.”
He said European as well as North American exposure goes hand-in-hand with hosting World Cup races.
Aspen is scheduled to host the World Cup Finals, featuring the top men and women in each discipline at the end of the 2016-17 racing season.
Plus, Hanle said, the Winternational races energize the core of Aspen as a ski town.
“There’s a hard-core community of ski racing fans here in the valley … these races are part of the fiber of the community,” he said. “We’re happy to have the racers back.”
The star-studded field will include Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin of Eagle-Vail along with 2013 overall World Cup winner Tina Maze of Slovenia.
Maze, the international skiing superstar, has 25 World Cup victories to her credit, including a pair of wins in Aspen.
Maze won the season-opening slalom last weekend in Levi, Finland.
Shiffrin finished 11th.
Sweden’s Frieda Hansdotter finished second in the Levi slalom.
Austria’s Kaythrin Zettel finished third with Sweden’s Maria Pietilae-Holmner fourth.
He said the auxiliary events of Winternational also add to the experience of the World Cup in Aspen.
He mentioned public tours of the wax rooms on the Friday before the races as well as the featured concert on Saturday night, Nov. 29, with Reel Big Fish in the Gondola Plaza.
The races will be held on Strawpile with the GS start up on Spring Pitch at the bottom of Aztec.
The course will follow Summer Road to Strawpile and the finish on E. 5th Avenue.
The slalom will start at the top of Strawpile.
The finish area at Lift 1A (Shadow Mountain lift) will include a large video screen. Spectators also will have finish-line grandstands for viewing.
Access is free to the finish area and along the course fencing.
Officials also released course maps this week.
Plans also were announced for free shuttles that will run every 15 minutes during the races taking spectators to the finish area at the base of 1A.
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Aspen junior Nic Pevny led the way, as he has all season, by shooting 1-over-par 73 to win the individual regional title by two strokes over Vail Christian’s Ross Anderson.