Ski racing feast and fireworks in Aspen
Eat and enjoy. But save room for dessert.
A main course of comfort food for a winter resort will be served in Aspen this week with the 2014 Winternational World Cup ski races on Aspen Mountain.
The women’s World Cup will make its return after a one-year hiatus with a giant slalom Saturday and a slalom Sunday. Racing will start at 10 a.m. each day.
The premier women ski racers in the world representing 19 countries will take to the gates on the east side of Ajax for the World Cup doubleheader.
They’ll bring a suitcase full of Olympic and world championship medals, led by two Americans who specialize in heavy metal.
Julia Mancuso, the timeless and versatile California surfer/skier, has won four Olympic medals in her storied racing career, including a gold medal in giant slalom at the Torino Winter Olympics in Italy in 2006.
Mikaela Shiffrin, the 19-year-old from Eagle-Vail who has risen to the top of the world in slalom, won Olympic slalom gold last winter in Sochi, Russia. She’s also won two consecutive overall World Cup slalom titles. And the first slalom of the current World Cup season last month in Austria.
She, for one, is excited about the opportunity to race on Aspen Mountain in front of fans, friends and family.
“It’s amazing here,” Shiffrin said during a visit to Aspen last week. “The crowd here is always so wonderful. It’s like they take you all the way down to the finish.”
She said the sound of the cheering fans inspires the ski racers.
“I’m really excited … to race,” she said.
Shiffrin and Mancuso will be at the World Cup Kickoff Party on Friday evening at the Limelight Hotel in downtown Aspen.
The public draw for racing bibs is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Friday. The party will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with the U.S. Ski Team on hand to sign autographs.
The draw will set the race order for Saturday’s giant slalom – runs at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Sunday’s slalom also will feature runs at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
In addition to the main dish of world class ski racing, Aspen Winternational will offer a series of side dishes this year including the Fireworks Extravaganza at 8:15 p.m. Saturday on the Little Nell ski run.
The fireworks will follow the medal presentation for Saturday’s race as well as a performance by Reel Big Fish in the Bud Light Hi-Fi Concert Series in the Gondola Plaza, set to start at 6:30 p.m.
“We’re happy to have the racers back,” said Jeff Hanle of the Aspen Skiing Co. “These races are part of the fiber of the community.”
The head of Skico’s public relations said there are scores of ski-racing fans in the valley who will be able to watch the best skiers in the world – for free, sitting in a grandstand, with a giant video screen to supplement the real thing.
The feast of alpine ski racing in Aspen on the weekend after Thanksgiving will be followed by dessert the following week – Dec. 1-4 when Aspen will host the FIS NorAM Cup races.
There will be men’s and women’s giant slalom races on the same Aspen Mountain course the World Cup skiers will use this week.
Aspen’s biggest serving of ski racing – ever – will be on the menu for 2017 when Aspen will host the 2017 World Cup Finals.
That will bring the top 25 skiers in each discipline – men and women – to Aspen at the end of the season.
That’s March 15-19, 2017.
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