World Cup ski racing is one of the most anticipated and celebrated events of the Aspen winter season. And, the Audi Fis Ski World Cup Nature Valley Aspen Winternational returns, once again, to our vibrant little ski town this coming Thanksgiving weekend.
This event features the best of the best international ski racers, while the festive atmosphere ignites a fantastic kickoff to the Aspen ski season.
The title sponsors, the FIS, the Aspen Skiing Company and the local community pack a lot of action into this festive weekend. This year there is even a last minute additional slalom race to make up for a World Cup event at Levi, Finland that was canceled due to warm temperatures and lack of snow.
Here are just a few of the fun things you should know about World Cup ski racing in Aspen.
1. American and International Skiing Legends and Up-and-Coming Stars
Since its inception in 1968, local World Cup racing has showcased the top Men’s and Women’s Alpine ski racers in the world. That inaugural year, Austrian Gerhard Nenning finished first in the men’s downhill, American star Billy Kidd won the men’s slalom, and Canadian Nancy Greene swept all three women’s events. In 1981, the current Winternational format debuted as a week-long celebration of skiing.
Last year, the races featured such women skiing superstars as Tina Maze of Slovenia, Kathrin Zettel of Austria, and American favorites, Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin.
There was some question as to whether or not Lindsey Vonn, would be ready to race here this year after suffering an ankle injury while training in New Zealand over the summer – but she will be here!
Other famous Aspen Winternational ski racers throughout the years include:
- Tamara McKinney – United States
- Phil Mahre – United States
- Ingemar Stenmark – Sweden
- Peter Muller – Switzerland
- Steve Podborski – Canada
- Brigitte Ortli – Switzerland
- Roswitha Steiner – Austria
- Christina Meier-Hoeck – Germany
- Alberto Tomba – Italy
- Kjetil Andre Aamodt – Norway
- Fredrik Nyberg – Sweden
2. Live Spectator Information
We always enjoy the exhilarating hike up Norway slope, to the top of Norway Island and beyond on Aspen Mountain to watch the World Cup ski racers zip by. In years past, we watched the likes of American skiing star, Billy Johnson and Austrian downhill legend, Franz Klammer, whizzing down from the top of Aztec, around the sharp Spring Pitch corner, across Ulfar’s Alley, down Strawpile and 5th Avenue, and then finally to the finish at the bottom of lift 1A. What a great reward for all of that hard work hiking up to a prime viewing spot!
Now, large crowds also gather at the grandstands provided for excellent viewing of the finish line.
If you really want to watch the races in style, consider taking advantage of the Sentient Jet VIP Hospitality tent, which provides exceptional race course viewing and complimentary catered food and alcohol. Single, 2-day and 3-day tickets are available for purchase through AspenSnowmass .com here.
3. Ski Waxing and Ski Tuning Room Tours
One of the most interesting and fun activities related to the World Cup ski races in Aspen is touring the ski waxing and ski tuning rooms.
It takes more than just talent (and a little good fortune) to win a ski race of this magnitude. A winning performance depends a lot on training, how the course matches a skier’s style, and how a skier feels mentally and physically on a given day.
It also requires finely tuned and expertly waxed skis. This is a big production!
Every year, ski techs set up shop in makeshift labyrinths in the garages of local hotels to make this happen. The Mountain Chalet has been the main setting for race day ski tuning since 1992.
Check out this video of an interview with Andrew Rufe, ski tuner for Lindsey Vonn, for a preview of what goes on behind the scenes.
4. Other Aspen Winternational Events
It’s not just all about the skiing. The Winternational event also features concerts, art celebrations, parties and more.
BUD LIGHT HI-FI CONCERT SERIES:
The Winternational weekend also fires off the first Bud Light Hi-Fi concert of the season. This Bud Light Hi-Fi concert series features shows held in various locations around Aspen and Snowmass. Specific acts are announced as the season progresses. Past performers include Umphree’s Mcgee, Vampire Weekend, Awolnation, Ghostland Observatory, Galactic, Pennywise, Blues Traveler, De La Soul and a last-minute rollicking ensemble of noted rock stars, including Steve Stevens and Billy Morrison of the Billy Idol band fame.
This year, they tapped Jamestown Revival for the first show.
ASPEN WINTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ART CELEBRATION:
This showcase allows local artists to display their talents while supporting World Cup ski racing in Aspen. Submissions, which must include some aspect of the Aspen World Cup skiing experience, will be displayed in retailers’ windows throughout downtown core during the event.
Cash prizes are awarded based on use of World Cup theme, creativity and originality, execution and quality, and overall impression.
WORLD CUP KICK-0FF PARTY:
This lively little party features autograph signing by the U.S. Ski Team, and a public bib draw for the slalom races. This is your chance to get up close and personal with the stars of the show (and perhaps get a few unique holiday gifts for your friends and relatives). And, you get to see the racers’ anticipation as they wait to see in what order they will race for slalom glory.
This racing order can have a direct impact on the race outcome, as ruts often develop in the course as the event progress. Sometimes, a mid-race snowfall slows the course down as well.
For the full Aspen Winternational schedule of events, please visit the aspensnowmass.com website here.
5. Aspen Awarded the 2017 World Cup Finals
Get a preview of the venue, and feel a bit of the energy of the 2017 FIS World Cup Skiing finals. In June of 2014, the FIS awarded this prestigious honor to Aspen, and on Nov 10, 2015, the FIS gave its final approval of the 2016/2017 schedule.
So, regardless if you come for the competition, the history, the parties, or all of the above, you will have a blast with World Cup skiing in Aspen. And, you too can hike up to Norway Island to watch the action if that’s what gets you fired up (especially now that they have added some steps)!
If you would like more information about Aspen and Snowmass events and activities, or if you are still looking for a great place to stay while you’re here, please contact one of our luxury concierges today at (970) 205-9962