Aspen Snowmass, CO, Keen to Host 23/24 FIS Alpine World Cup Events

Julia Schneemann | | Industry NewsIndustry News
The Downhill course at Aspen Snowmass, CO. | Picture: Aspen Snowmass Website

After Aspen Snowmass, CO, successfully hosted FIS World Cup events in the 22/23 season, SkiCo officials will head to Europe in May, to submit a bid to host events for the 23/24 World Cup season.

The International Ski and Snowboard Federation ‘FIS’ holds working group meetings each year in Europe in early May, where details for the upcoming season are hashed out and a preliminary calendar is put forward. The schedule is then ratified at the International Ski Congress, which will be held on May 25, 2023, in Zurich.

This year’s speed events in March were the return for Aspen to the Alpine World Cup circuit after a six year hiatus. Aspen was unexpectedly named a host venue for the men’s Downhill and Super-G last spring. Aspen representatives had not gone to last year’s group meetings to put in a formal bid.

Kilde Aspen
Aleksander Aamodt Kilde pushing out off the starting gate at the Aspen Downhill. | Picture: Atomic Skis Instagram Account

Now that Aspen has been back on the Alpine racing calendar, John Rigney, SkiCo’s Senior Vice President, hopes to keep it there and he will personally attend the FIS meetings to support Aspen’s bid for 23/24. Rigney stopped attending the annual meetings in 2017, when FIS officials in office at the time informed him that Aspen wouldn’t host additional races until Lift 1A was replaced and base area facilities were upgraded.

There is speculation that the change of FIS leadership has brought more American venues back on the FIS Alpine racing calendar. Swedish business man Johan Eliasch was appointed the head of FIS in June 2021 and the former CEO of Head Skis has pushed for the Alpine racing to get more exposure.

While many athletes, resorts, spectators and sponsors welcome the return of more races to North America, there are also critics calling for an optimization of the FIS calendar to avoid excessive travel for athletes and their entourage. For the 22/23 season, athletes had to at times to travel 2-3 times between Europe and the US to catch the races on the FIS circuit. In an open letter to FIS in February this year, 200 athletes called for substantial changes to the FIS calendar, such as moving the start of the race season from October to November and pushing it out from now March to April, as well as streamlining the race calendar to minimize unnecessary travel rather than forcing athletes to fly repeatedly between continents. 

Time will tell if their petition has had the desired effect, but a geographical optimization of the race schedule certainly appears to be easy enough to implement. Aspen Snowmass in the meantime is hoping that the World Cup is here to stay and can be held again at a similar time of year. “We want in, we want in on a regular basis, and we think it should be shown off in its glory in February or March,” Rigney told the Aspen council.

The season at Aspen Snowmass typically goes from late November to mid-April, so taking over the earlier races in October or early November from the European Alps would likely be harder for most American resorts. Europe has several glacier resorts that are open year round or are able to open for skiing as early as October. The 22/23 season saw many early races on the race schedule canceled due to a lack of snow in Europe this past season.

Aspen retro
Aspen used to be a staple on the FIS Alpine calendar and hopes to return to the race circuit. | Picture: Aspen Snowmass Website

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One thought on “Aspen Snowmass, CO, Keen to Host 23/24 FIS Alpine World Cup Events

  1. I can remember when Aspen landed the 1952 FIS when they were unknown and the population of Aspen was about as many as the days of the year.

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