Ski racing runs deeps in Aspen Snowmass’ history and the FIS Ski World Cup races have remained a fundamental 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 the surrounding community has 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
1937 – The newly-formed Roaring Fork Winter Sports
Club (now the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club which is celebrating its 80
anniversary) held the first ski race on Aspen Mountain.
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 US 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 US 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
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
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 (Austrian), 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 second women’s only event
in Aspen. It 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
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
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
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 – Finnish racer, 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 Hosp (Austrian) 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 zero 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
*Information provided by the Aspen Historical Society.