World Cup course work on schedule
An official from the International Ski Federation is expected to give Aspen a formal “green light” for the Nov. 29-30 women’s World Cup races on Aspen Mountain during a course inspection this morning.As part of the routine “10 day out” visit, Jan Tischhauser, the race director of the women’s World Cup tour, will ski the courses on the Ruthie’s side of the mountain with a host of Aspen officials, including Aspen’s chief of race Jim Hancock. Hancock, whose crews are nearly finished with the snowmaking and have already groomed out much of the course, didn’t foresee any hitches Monday afternoon.”It is a serious thing but I can’t see any stumbling blocks at this point,” said Hancock, who has been involved with every Aspen World Cup since 1981.Aspen is scheduled to host two women’s World Cups: a super G on Friday, Nov. 29, and a slalom on Saturday, Nov. 30.”When they do this 10-day-out thing, they make the determination whether it looks feasible to hold the race. If there’s no way an area’s going to be ready, you can stop production and save everybody a lot of money,” Hancock said. “That’s clearly not going to be the case this year.”It’s a dramatic reversal from last year when Hancock was using phrases like “mad scramble” and “last second” to describe preparations for Aspen’s third Thanksgiving Day weekend World Cup since 1998. Originally Aspen was slated to host five World Cups, three men’s and two women’s, but summerlike conditions reduced the event to just two men’s slaloms, a minor miracle in itself considering Aspen was experiencing the warmest November in 29 years.”We’re feeling very fortunate this year; it’s much less stressful in that regard,” Hancock said. “These are the most optimum conditions we’ve had” for a November World Cup.”Everyone feels like it’s actually going to happen, so I think it’s safe to say that the general level of enthusiasm for the event, and skiing in general, is pretty high. And especially after last year, it’s welcome.”Hancock said snowmakers are “just about done” with work on the race course which starts on Ruthie’s Run and winds down toward the base of Lift 1A via Spring Pitch, Strawpile and 5th Avenue. (The slalom event will be staged on the lower portion, Strawpile and 5th Avenue.) Crews are now installing rolls of safety netting, running TV cable up the course and grooming and grading the snow, Hancock said.”We still have lots of work to do, but we don’t anticipate any holdups,” Hancock said. “We’re not exactly ready to hold the race just yet, but we’re on schedule and everything’s looking positive at this point.”
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