World Cup Fever

World Cup Finals are in town, and it’s a very exciting time to be in Aspen!

Alpine ski racing’s most important event, the FIS World Cup Finals are the last set of races on the World Cup circuit for the season, crowning the champion in five disciplines plus the overall men’s and women’s champions. Only 25 racers in each discipline qualify for the finals, so you’re watching the best of the best competing over five days in downhill, super G, giant slalom, slalom, and the nation’s team event.

If you’re in Aspen reading this, count yourself among the lucky thousands who are able to feel the pulse and the energy of such an awesome series of events. Never before held in Aspen, the World Cup Finals were last held outside of Europe in 1997. The men have not raced here since 2001. But Aspen has a rich and venerable ski racing history, dating back to 1950 when the fledgling ski town hosted its first international ski race, the FIS World Alpine Championships. Since then, hundreds (if not thousands) of legendary and aspiring racers — including numerous Aspen Valley Ski Club (AVSC) members — have tackled the fabled steeps of Aztec and the last few turns on Strawpile to cross the finish line in hopes of a great finish and one more step in their careers.

Watching the women's downhill on Aspen Mountain. Photo by Tara Nelson

Watching the women’s downhill on Aspen Mountain. Photo by Tara Nelson

The view at the famed Airplane Turn on the downhill course on Aspen Mountain. Photo by Tara Nelson

The view at the famed Airplane Turn on the downhill course on Aspen Mountain. Photo by Tara Nelson

“It is so cool to see how the town of Aspen embraces the skiing history here,” says our own Mark Lewis, a true ski fanatic. “The energy in town [during World Cup Finals] is like no other event that is held in Aspen. At the end of the day, whether you like ski racing or not, there is something for everybody and it is one heckuva week to be in Aspen, Colorado!”

One slopeside spectator for Wednesday’s downhill said it’s “crazy up there,” while all TV angles show throngs of people lining the course in addition to the crowds jamming the grandstands at the finish line. A course volunteer charged with sideslipping the courses between racers described the feeling of being in the thick of it as “intense” and an “exhilarating experience.” And after the races are over, the party continues in World Cup Village (aka Wagner Park) with apres parties, autograph signings (as well as other ways to mingle with the racers), live music, and more.

If you’re not in town, you can still check out the action on TV or online. NBCSN and NBC are broadcasting most of the events live, and the NBC Sports app allows for mobile viewing. (In Europe, Eurosport and the Eurosport Viewer online are great ways to watch the races.)

Overall super G women's champion Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein shows off her crystal globe as Slovenia's Ilka Stuhec (who won the downhill globe) looks on. Jeremy Swanson photo.

Overall super G women’s champion Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein shows off her crystal globe as Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec (who won the downhill globe) looks on. Jeremy Swanson photo.

All the details you need on World Cup Finals can be found through this page on Aspen Skiing Company’s website, and Aspen Sojourner magazine has published a definitive guide that includes history, interviews, and plenty of background beta. Here’s a quick clip of the energy along the sidelines as American favorite Lindsey Vonn speeds by.

What could be better than watching a World Cup Finals race on a bluebird Aspen day? Photo by Jeremy Swanson

What could be better than watching a World Cup Finals race on a bluebird Aspen day? Photo by Jeremy Swanson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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