At Aspen Snowmass ski racing runs deeps and the FIS Ski World Cup races have remained a central event throughout the years as the world’s best ski racers come from all corners of the globe to compete on the technical and steep faces of Aspen Mountain. From 1939 when the first sanctioned races took place at Aspen to this year’s 2015 Audi FIS Ski World Cup at the Nature Valley Aspen Winternational, Aspen and the surrounding community have played host to the ski racing world stage for many years. Today, Aspen Snowmass not only supports up-and-coming ski racing athletes and hosts multiple ski races throughout the season, but the town and community have also been awarded the 2017 Audi FIS World Cup finals continuing the long-standing tradition of being a hub for ski racing.
History of Ski Racing in Aspen
History of Ski Racing in Aspen
1939 – First sanctioned ski races in Aspen’s history. Southern Rocky Mountain Ski Association (SRMSA) held their DH and SL Championships.
1941 – Aspen hosted the US National Championships DH and SL (GS and Super G were not created yet) Winners were Toni Matt and Gretchen Fraser.
1950 – Aspen hosts the FIS World Championships, the first time this event was ever held outside Europe, thanks to the efforts of Dick Durrance who also invented the Dipsy Doodle ski technic and for which Dipsy Doodle is named. The Aspen Ski Company and Aspen Ski Club were also instrumental in bring the event to Aspen. Overall winners were Italian Zeno Colo and Austrian Dagmar Rom.
1954 – The Roch Cup races, which were also the National Championships, were won by Chiharu Igaya, a Japanese student from Dartmouth, who went on the win the silver medal in the 1956 Cortina Olympics.
1959 – Aspen again hosted the Roch Cup races which doubled as the National Championship.
1960 – According to a Feb. 5, 1960 Aspen Times article, Roch Cup race officials expected the largest field since the 1950 FIS World Championships as European competitors made the trip to the US before the Squaw Valley Olympics.
1963 – American Billy Kidd won the Roch Cup DH and SL before being named to represent the US at the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics where he took home the silver medal in the SL. The Roch Cup races were “tryouts” for the Olympic team.
1967 – US Ski Team director and Aspenite, Bob Beattie, along with French Ski Team director, Honore Bonnet, and Swiss journalist, Serge Lang, started the FIS World Cup circuit.
1968 – Aspen hosted its first official World Cup race. American Billy Kidd won the men’s slalom, Austrian Gerhard Nenning won the men’s downhill and Canadian Nancy Greene swept all three women’s events.
1976 – After winning the downhill at the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics with the most famous run in downhill history, Franz Klammer won Aspen’s downhill.
1979 – Aspen hosted a women’s only GS with Christa Kinshofer taking home the gold.
1981 – This race marked the beginning of the Winternational event, a week-long celebration of skiing. American Tamara McKinney nabbed first place in the GS as well as the World Cup GS title. Phil Mahre, also from the US Ski Team, won the GS, on his way to winning his first World Cup Overall title, narrowly edging Swede Ingemar Stenmark by only 6 points to capture his first title in 1981.
1982 – In an exciting, pressure filled event, Swiss Peter Müller wins Aspen’s two DHs to tie Canadian Steve Podborski for the World Cup DH title.
1984 – Mirroring Franz Klammer’s feat from 1976, American Billy Johnson wins DH gold at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics and wins America’s DH in Aspen.
1987 – Pirmin Zurbriggen won both Aspen events, the DH and Super G, on his way to his second World Cup Overall title as well as the World Cup DH and Super G titles.
1988 – This event was the first women’s only World Cup race series that included a DH, GS and SL. Winners were Brigitte Ortli (SUI) DH, Roswitha Steiner (AUT) SL and Christina Meier-Hoeck (GER) GS.
1989 – Ingemar Stenmark, the winningest racer of all time with 86 World Cup victories, won his final race in Aspen. Men’s World Cup racing returned to Aspen and races were held every year (except 1990) through 1995. Winners during this period were ski racing greats such as Alberto Tomba, Kjetil Andre Aamodt, and Fredrik Nyberg.
1998 – World Cup racing returned to Aspen after a three-year hiatus with a men’s Super G and SL. The Super G course was slightly altered to take advantage of the early-season snow. Racers dubbed it one of the most challenging Super G courses in the world.
2000 – Women’s World Cup racing returned to Aspen with Michaela Dorfmeister winning the Super G and Janica Kostelic taking home the top spot in the SL.
2001 – Aspen was awarded 5 events but only hosted two men’s slaloms that year.
2001 – Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic, following in his sister’s footsteps from the previous year, unexpectedly won the SL starting from the 64 position for his first World Cup win. In the second race, Austrian Mario Matt won over Bode Miller, who achieved his first World Cup podium and was the first American male to be on a SL podium in 14 years.
2002 – The Women’s World Cup began its annual trek to Aspen, except 2003 and 2013, when the races were given to other resorts in order for them to run test races for the World Championships.
2004 – Fin Tanja Poutiainen wins two of the three events, a SL and GS, with Swede Anja Paerson taking the top result in the other SL.
2006 – Austria’s Kathrin Zettel achieves her first World Cup victory in the GS. Zettel returned to the top of the podium six years later in Aspen’s 2012 SL.
2008, 2009 – Sarka Zahrobska Strachova of the Czech Republic wins the SL two years in a row.
2014 – Nicole Hops returns to the podium with a victory in the slalom for the first time since 2007. This marks her second victory on the slopes of Aspen.
2015 – Mikaela Shiffrin becomes the first American female to win gold on Aspen soil since Tamara Mckinney in 1981. Shiffrin also won by an astonishing three point seven seconds which marks the largest margin of victory in modern women’s ski race history. The last time an American won on Aspen soil was Bill Johnson in the 1984 downhill.
In addition to hosting the traditional giant slalom and slalom races, Aspen added another slalom race to the 2015 race docket of which Shiffrin won by yet another large margin of victory. Shiffrin walks away with back-to-back slalom victories marking 2015 as a good year for the U.S. Ski Team at the annual Aspen Winternational.
*Information provided by the Aspen Historical Society.