by Kristen Lummis, braveskimom.com
Whens the last time you watched a really great ski race?
If your answer is on TV during the Olympics, you might want to consider a quick trek to Aspen over Thanksgiving weekend.Again this year, Aspen Snowmass welcomes the fastest female technical racers in the world for the 2014 Aspen Winternational World Cup races.Officially known as the 2014 Audi FIS Ski World Cup at the Nature Valley Aspen Winternational (whew!), the racing takes place on Saturday, November 29 and Sunday, November 30, but the party goes on all weekend.Heres the run down on whats happening:
World Cup races start and finish above the Shadow Mountain Lift at Aspen Mountain, just a few blocks west (lookers right) of the gondola.Sanctioned ski racing began in Aspen in 1939 and portions of this course have been used for FIS and World Cup racing since 1950 when Aspen hosted the first FIS World Championships outside of Europe.Since then, many of the worlds best skiers have won on the Aspen courses, including Americans Billy Kidd, Phil Mahre, Bill Johnson and Tamara McKinney. This year, U.S. Ski Team standout Mikaela Shiffrin, fresh off a victory at the Sochi Olympics and a World Cup Slalom title, will compete, as will U.S. favorite Julia Mancuso.
Saturdays Giant Slalom race begins at the bottom of Aztec, just below Ruthies chair. After a wide turn onto Ulfars Alley racers head down Strawpile to the finish. There are two runs, the first at 10:00 a.m., with the final at 1:00 p.m.Sunday is Slalom day. Starting at the top of Strawpile, the entire course can be seen from the finish area. Again, the first run begins at 10:00 a.m., with the final at 1:00 p.m.
Both events are free and spectators can watch on-mountain, or from the finish line stadium, where theres a giant video screen. Shuttles run every 15 minutes from town to the venue entrance.
In addition to some serious ski racing, Winternational is a party and whats a party without good foodIn the finish area, look for Taste of Winternational with complimentary samples from two Aspen Snowmass on-mountain restaurants. Preview the Ullrhofs new waffle menu on Saturday (chili cheese waffles, anyone?) and sample the new Lynn Britt Cabin chuck wagon menu on Sunday.In the evening, look for special prix fixe dining room and bar menus at twelve of Aspens favorite restaurants. Prices range from $15 to $47, with most around $30 for several courses.
On Friday night, check out the World Cup Kick-Off Party at the Limelight hotel from 5:30 7:30 p.m. The U.S. Ski Team will sign autographs from 5:30 6:30, with a public bib draw (to determine race order) at 6:45.
On Saturday and Sunday, the finish area is the place to be, with live music, giveaways and a kids race between events.Then at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, So-Cal ska-punk band Reel Big Fish headlines the free Bud Light Hi-Fi Concert at Upper Gondola Plaza. And did I mention fireworks to follow at 8:15?
Ski racing. Fantastic food. Live music. And the U.S. Ski Team. What are you waiting for?
Get thee to Aspen.
For more information, check out the Winternational section of the Aspen Snowmass website. If you cant make it to Aspen this weekend, watch the action on NBCSN on Saturday (3:00 p.m.) and on NBC on Sunday (1:00 p.m.).
Then plan ahead for March 15 19, 2017 when Aspen hosts the mens and womens World Cup Finals.