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World Cup Skiing To Return to Aspen

May 6, 1998

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) _ World Cup ski racing is returning to Aspen three years after the Aspen Skiing Co. withdrew its support for the race because of high costs.

During its last two years, the Aspen races were marred by controversy over the downhill event. The FIS twice canceled the results of the downhill with American AJ Kitt in the lead.

The ski company had been pressing FIS to change the date of the race from March to December. FIS insisted that an early season race would require construction of a retaining wall that the ski company said would have scarred the hillside.

Bill Marolt, president of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, said Wednesday that his organization had selected Aspen as the site for a men’s super-G and slalom over the Thanksgiving weekend.

``The World Cup is not a true World Cup unless it has Aspen on the schedule,″ said Marolt, an Aspen native who grew up racing on Aspen Mountain en route to making the 1964 U.S. Olympic team. He also won the prestigious Roch Cup, a major international ski competition contested in the years before the World Cup tour was formalized in 1967.

``Aspen has a great mountain and there’s a great racing tradition in the town and the region. World Cup ski racing belongs here in this community. Every young girl or boy here in the Roaring Fork Valley should aspire to someday ski in the Aspen World Cup.″

Pat O’Donnell, president and CEO of the Aspen Skiing Co., said, ``Not only does World Cup provide extensive international exposure for Aspen, but this race will help drive early season business. And, with several world-level skiing competitions scheduled in the United States over the next few years, the timing is also ideal.″

That apparently was a reference to the World Ski Championships scheduled for next year in Vail. While Aspen withdrew from World Cup sponsorship, Vail continued a long relationship with the circuit, including playing host to two world championships and World Cup finals. Vail’s usual spot on the World Cup schedule became available because the resort is playing host to the world championships beginning in January.

The ski company plans to spend $800,000 on new snowmaking equipment to ensure the courses are up to world standards. The Aspen races will follow the opening races at Park City, Utah.

U.S. Ski Team spokesman Tom Kelly said two womens’ races likely will be held in Aspen in 1999.

In addition, Marolt said USSA hoped to add two men’s NorAm Cup super-G races Nov. 30-Dec. 1 at Aspen, competitions aimed at increasing the value of the sub-World Cup tour for developing skiers. Final schedules will be announced May 22 in Prague.

The Roch Cup was awarded for 47 seasons. Americans Phil Mahre, Billy Kidd, Bill Johnson and Kitt won it, along with Alberto Tomba of Italy, Pirmin Zurbriggen of Switzerland, Stein Eriksen of Norway, five-time World Cup champion Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg, Franz Klammer of Austria and Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden, who won the last of his record 86 World Cup races at Aspen in 1989.

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