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With snow in the forecast for the Colorado Rockies this weekend, it’s easy to let one’s ski brain wander to next season, especially with the news this week that ski racing and in fact snow sports competition in general is making a significant shift away from European dominance and more toward the United States.
The International Ski Federation (FIS), based in Switzerland, on Tuesday announced the doubling of World Cup alpine events in the United States for the coming season, with the return of men’s racing in Aspen and Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley) to complement ongoing women’s races in Killington, Vermont, and men’s races right here in Beaver Creek on the famed Birds of Prey course.
Here’s the really big news in a press release issued Tuesday by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team: “The expansion of the alpine World Cup calendar in the United States is part of a larger plan to host more World Cup-level events in America across all U.S. Ski & Snowboard sports and genders in the coming years.”
Finally. For years, we’ve hosted just a handful of events here on home snow (usually early season) and then watched in dismay as the circuit headed back to Europe for the bulk of the season. Hard to build a culture of fandom when that happens every season. The two new races on the alpine side will be in February and March as opposed to the late November, early December events we usually see (when snow can be dicey and conditions questionable).
It would be nice if our local Beaver Creek Ski Resort didn’t have to blow so much snow to make a downhill course at a time of year when water is scarce and we’ve seen limited natural snowfall the last few seasons. And it would really nice if that snowmaking could be focused on other parts of the mountain so Beaver Creek could open more terrain to the general public in the early season.
The other bummer is that our two most famous local alpine racers from Edwards won’t have the chance to strut their stuff on truly home snow. The giant slalom that Ted Ligety used to win on a regular basis at Beaver Creek has been stripped from the Birds of Prey schedule, so River Radamus of Edwards, who turned in the best U.S. alpine result of the Beijing Games with a fourth place in the GS, won’t get a shot at the BOP GS.
And two-time Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin, who won a world championship on the Birds of Prey course back in 2015, will still get a shot at dominating her other hometown hill in Killington but won’t be returning to Aspen, where she’s won before, because that’s going to be a men’s speed event. Radamus will just have to get his speed game on for those of us who want to drive over and watch him in March.
So, not to look a gift horse in the mouth or anything, but there’s a lot to love in the new schedule and a lot to hope for in coming years as Shiffrin targets the all-time World Cup wins mark former Vail resident and current record holder Lindsey Vonn is certain she’ll break and Radamus, 24, continues to upward climb heading into Cortina 2026 and hopefully Salt Lake 2030. Here’s Tuesday’s press release from U.S. Ski & Snowboard:
U.S. Ski & Snowboard, the National Governing Body of Olympic skiing and snowboarding in the United States, announced today that the International Ski Federation (FIS) provisionally approved the United States’ hosting of four FIS Alpine Ski World Cup events in the 2022-23 season, doubling the amount of alpine World Cups in the U.S. in recent years. The 2022-23 FIS World Cup schedules will be confirmed on May 25 at the annual FIS Congress.
For the last five years, the U.S. has hosted two alpine World Cup events: the women’s Killington Cup in Killington, Vermont and the men’s Xfinity Birds of Prey at Beaver Creek, Colorado. Once the schedule is approved, the 2022-23 winter will mark the expansion of the domestic World Cup footprint as U.S. Ski & Snowboard will bring alpine ski racing to Palisades Tahoe in California and Aspen Mountain in Colorado, marking the most World Cups on American soil since the 1996-97 season.
“We are thrilled to bring four World Cups to U.S. venues this season to provide our country’s ski racing fans with more opportunities to see the best skiers across the globe compete on our home turf,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard President & CEO Sophie Goldschmidt. “This is a pivotal move for our organization and FIS to grow the sport within the United States and make events more accessible to attend. The expansion gives us a further opportunity to bring more attention to the sport domestically and inspire the next generation of U.S. athletes.”
The 2022-23 season kicks off in North America with the Killington Cup over Thanksgiving Weekend for a women’s slalom and giant slalom World Cup. The following week, the men head to Beaver Creek for the annual Xfinity Birds of Prey super-G and two downhills. Following World Cup stops in Europe, the men will return to the states for tech events at Palisades Tahoe on February 25-26, 2023, followed by speed events at Aspen Mountain on March 3-5, 2023.
The Killington Cup, a regular stop on the women’s circuit since 2016, was the first World Cup to be hosted in the eastern United States since 1991 and has since become a favorite event of local fans and World Cup stars alike. It will be headlined by two-time Olympic champion and 2021-22 overall World Cup winner Mikaela Shiffrin. Shiffrin has won all five of the past Killington Cup slaloms in front of the yearly crowds of nearly 40,000 ski racing enthusiasts.
The Vail Valley Foundation—local organizers of the legendary Xfinity Birds of Prey race since 1997 and three FIS Alpine World Ski Championships at Vail/Beaver Creek in 1989, 1999 and 2015—and Beaver Creek Resort will once again play host to two downhills and a super-G. Athletes such as 2022 Olympic silver medalist Ryan Cochran-Siegle, 2021 Xfinity Birds of Prey podium star Travis Ganong and local legend River Radamus will be looking to show off in front of the home crowd.
Palisades Tahoe is a storied Olympic venue, having hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1960. The mountain’s challenging terrain and dedication to snowsports have produced countless Olympians and World Cup champions since then; there are currently seven Team Palisades Tahoe athletes on the U.S. Alpine Ski Team. Palisades Tahoe most recently hosted a women’s World Cup event in 2017 on the same trails that crowned Olympic heroes more than 50 years earlier.
America’s Downhill returns to Aspen Mountain, an iconic venue with several decades of U.S. Alpine Ski Team history. Aspen was the host of the first World Championships held outside of the European borders in 1950 and the mountain has produced innumerable ski racing legends throughout the last century. Aspen has hosted more than 100 World Cup races for both men and women over the years and was home to the World Cup Finals in 2017.
The expansion of the alpine World Cup calendar in the United States is part of a larger plan to host more World Cup-level events in America across all U.S. Ski & Snowboard sports and genders in the coming years.
2022-23 U.S. WORLD CUP SCHEDULE
Nov. 26-27: Killington Cup, Killington, Vermont; women’s slalom/giant slalom
Dec. 2-4: Xfinity Birds of Prey, Beaver Creek, Colorado; men’s super-G/downhill/downhill
Feb. 25-26: Palisades Tahoe, California; men’s slalom/giant slalom
March 3-5: America’s Downhill, Aspen, Colorado; men’s super-G/downhill
Feb. 2-4: Intermountain Healthcare Freestyle International, Deer Valley, Utah; men’s and women’s aerials/moguls
FREESKI & SNOWBOARD
Dec. 16-17: Toyota U.S. Grand Prix, Copper Mountain, Colorado; men’s and women’s halfpipe
Dec. 16-17: Visa Big Air Presented by Toyota, Copper Mountain, Colorado; men’s and women’s big air
Feb. 2-4: Toyota U.S. Grand Prix, Mammoth Mountain, California; men’s and women’s halfpipe/slopestyle