Mikaela Shiffrin takes third for second-straight day in Sunday’s Mont Tremblant World Cup giant slalom
The Mikaela Shiffrin and Petra Vlhova rivalry once more took center stage at Sunday’s World Cup giant slalom in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. That is, until veteran Federica Brignone decided to steal the show.
“I tried my best, I really enjoyed it and I went full gas all the way,” said Brignone, who was 1.22 seconds off of Vlhova after the first run. The women’s tech field continued to demonstrate a top-heavy trend, with Shiffrin trailing the Slovak by 0.05 seconds and Lara Gut-Behrami — who won the first two giant slaloms of the season before placing fifth on Saturday and second on Sunday — sitting 0.29 seconds back after run No. 1. Almost a full-second off of Vlhova’s standard was Marta Bassino in fourth, Zrinka Ljutic in fifth and Brignone in sixth.
“It’s my first back-to-back, and I couldn’t believe it today after the first run,” Brignone continued. “I had this big mistake and I said, ‘OK, all in or nothing.'”
Falling snow slowed Shiffrin and Vlhova at the top of the course during run No. 2. The American only managed the 18th-fastest second run on the day, while Vlhova’s was a dismal 23rd-best.
“It was just terrible visibility — you could not see anything,” said Shiffrin, who finished third overall, 0.39 seconds off Brignone. “Actually it was still fun to ski in a way, sometimes a little bit wild, but tough conditions, but a good fight. I’m proud of that.”
Brignone said she’d faced adverse conditions frequently in training this year. “So, my brother said to me before the second run, ‘OK, we’re ready. We have been training like this for a month, so just give it all,'” she said.
Shiffrin lost 0.48 seconds on Brignone on the first sector, and another half-second in the third, but held on for bronze for a second-straight day. When asked about the course, Shiffrin said, “There’s really one piece of terrain, one turn on the hill that is much more important than I think anybody imagined. So, that one was catching a lot of people.”
The 28-year-old did walk away with her 41st-career GS podium, tying Ted Ligety’s American record. Shiffrin’s 21 GS wins still trails Ligety’s record of 24. The defending GS crystal globe winner has a sixth and three third-place finishes in the first four GS races of the season.
“I would say I keep moving up with confidence in my skiing, with a bit more power in the skiing,” she answered when asked about her performance curve in the event. “I’m happy with how we are now because from Soelden, I was not feeling too hopeful that I would be on the podiums, but I’m feeling much better with my skiing now.”
A.J. Hurt used a strong second run — she was the fifth-fastest in the field — to place ninth and Paula Moltzan was the third-best American in 15th. The final American starter, Elisabeth Bocock, did not finish her first run.
“First run was a disappointment, but the second run felt a lot better and the course set was better,” Moltzan said.
Hurt said she gained confidence from a 19th-place finish in Killington on Nov. 25. “I have been feeling good training waiting to put together two runs in a race,” the 22-year-old stated.
Gut-Behrami currently leads the GS discipline standings with 325 points, followed by Brignone (320), Shiffrin (220) and Vlhova (211). Shiffrin maintained her grip on the overall, where she leads Vlhova by 79 points and Gut-Behrami by 145.
The women’s World Cup travels to St. Moritz, Switzerland Dec. 8-10 for two super-Gs and a downhill. The next tech event is a slalom in Courchevel, France on Dec. 21.
Women’s Alpine ski World Cup overall standings
Mikaela Shiffrin, United States – 470
Petra Vlhova, Slovakia – 391
Lara Gut-Behrami, Switzerland – 325
Federica Brignone, Italy – 320
Sara Hector, Sweden – 296
Lena Duerr, Germany – 190
Zrinka Ljutic, Croatia – 173
Katharina Liensberger, Austria – 163
Valerie Grenier, Canada – 153
Paula Moltzan, United States – 140
Birds of Prey World Cup Friday downhill race canceled due to weather, organizers announce
The FIS Birds of Prey World Cup Friday race has been canceled due to weather, according to the Vail Valley Foundation, the local nonprofit that organizes the races.
“Due to the heavy snowfall from last night and into this morning, together with low visibility, despite tremendous effort from the course crew, the Jury together with the Vail Valley Foundation Organizing Committee have decided to cancel today’s men’s downhill,” wrote Tom Boyd, the event’s press chief in an email to media members at approximately 12:30 p.m. Friday. “We are extremely grateful for the efforts of our race crews and jury.”
Friday’s race was initially delayed to allow the crew to work on the hill. The amount of snow, coupled with low visibility, however, led to the decision to cancel.
Beaver Creek received four inches of snow in the overnight storm, according to OpenSnow.com. Light snow and foggy conditions continued into the afternoon. A larger storm is expected to hit over the weekend, with estimated snow totals reaching the double digits. According to OpenSnow.com, an additional four inches are in the forecast for Saturday, and an additional eight inches on Sunday. “We saw snow on Thursday night, and flakes will stay in the forecast through Sunday night with significant snow totals possible,” wrote founding meteorologist Joel Gratz.
The new snow presents a problem for the course, which has been groomed extensively in a fashion that complements the speed and technicality of the world’s fastest skiers.
“It’s one of those things that you have to get used to racing World Cup downhill — it’s pretty consistently intermittent with weather and it takes a lot of things to line up for us to build a race,” US Ski Team’s Kyle Negomir said during an October interview in Zermatt, Switzerland, where the first scheduled speed events of the season were also canceled due to poor weather conditions. Friday’s cancellation is the third speed event on the men’s World Cup calendar to be postponed.
As of Friday night, Saturday’s downhill race remained scheduled for 10:45 a.m.
Vail skier returns to World Cup moguls skiing 7 months after spine surgery
Olympian Tess Johnson isn’t ready to call it a career yet. Not even close.
“I want to be able to ski for the rest of my life and feel good doing it,” the Vail-raised athlete said. “I want to ski moguls when I’m 75.”
Those ambitions — plus the more tangible targets of making another Olympic team — formed the calculus for Johnson, 23, to undergo spinal surgery at the Steadman Clinic last April and fix her chronically injured herniated L5 S1 disc. The pain hindered Johnson the last two seasons and worsened significantly this past winter, even forcing the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail alumna to pull out of the 2022 World Cup opener in Ruka, Finland.
“(I) never really felt 100% after that,” Johnson said of a campaign in which she finished 12th in the overall moguls standings, a slight step down from the previous five-year string of placements: 7-5-10-6-5.
“The whole winter was really, really inhibiting for me,” she said. “Physically, I just did not feel like I could ski my best.”
Back in Ruka to kick off her eighth World Cup season this Saturday, Johnson hinted in a Zoom call last Saturday that she’s back — maybe better, at least in some ways.
“I’m feeling good, I’m feeling excited,” she said before adding, “I didn’t have a ton of on-snow training this summer.”
Putting the latter, inherent downside of an arduous rehab aside, here’s one positive: the self-admitted “technical geek” was able to indulge her analytical appetite along the process-product performance continuum.
“It was kind of cool to relearn basic movements with very, very correct form,” said Johnson, who became the youngest mogul skier ever named to the national team in 2014.
One day after Dr. Sonny Gill’s operation, she started working with physical therapist Brooke Milliet at Howard Head. For two weeks, she couldn’t bend, twist, or lift anything. Eventually, she moved back to Park City — she now lives in Salt Lake City full time — to continue with U.S. Ski Team physical therapists Jill Radzinski and Maddi Beck five days a week. She planted herself at the Center of Excellence for 4-6 hours a day, doing exercises, cardio work and meeting with sports psychologists and on-snow coaches to watch competition video.
“It was a massive effort to help me get through the injury physically and mentally,” Johnson said. She was training aerials on the water ramp by July and skiing in New Zealand in August. By late-September, she felt 100% normal.
“Now that the injury is fixed and healed, I’m free to ski the way that I want to and attack the way that I want to,” said Johnson, who said she “subconsciously made physical and mental adjustments” in competition to protect her spine in 2022 and 2023.
“I think I definitely was worrying about it last season and didn’t even realize it.”
A bigger bag of tricks
Though she’s shed those protective mechanisms, the 2019 World Championship dual moguls bronze medalist is carrying a few things over from last year in terms of tricks. She called her decision to experiment last year with different top and bottom-air combinations “a good and necessary thing” for the post-Olympics season.
“But that came at the cost, of course, of not the best results,” she said. “On the flip side, I think experimenting with those new tricks was really fun and motivating.”
Beefing up her already wide-ranging aerial arsenal offers flexibility within a sport requiring constant course, weather and circumstantial-dependent decisions.
“It’s really a mixed bag, and that’s kind of the dream — to be able to have options,” she said.
Considering Ruka’s steepness, challenging top-air and abundantly cold snow, Johnson is leaning towards a back-X to cork-720.
“The bottom air you can go massive on,” Johnson said.
“I was even talking with my coach today, like, if I can do my tricks on these jumps, then likely I can do them anywhere.”
Arguably one of the more globally competitive branches of the U.S. Ski Team, the women’s mogul squad is rich with SSCV blood. 2022 Olympian Kai Owens will return this year after knee and shoulder injuries wiped away her 2023 campaign.
“I’m sure she’s taken a lot of life lessons out of (her) injuries because that’s what tends to happen. No matter who you are, injuries in an elite sport change the perspective of both the sport and life,” Johnson commented. “Being away from the sport for so long with two heavy-duty injuries … It’s just great to have her back.”
“She’s gotten so much stronger,” Johnson said of Lemley. “It’s been really cool (for her to) put that work in in the gym and see it pay off. I’m expecting great things from her, as always.”
The Colorado-heavy U.S. moguls roster bonded over watching Mikaela Shiffrin during a recent training camp in Levi, Finland. Johnson and Hannah Soar grabbed lunch with Paula Moltzan. Over Thanksgiving, the team bopped over to watch the cross-country ski World Cup opener in Ruka.
“There is not a lot of crossover, so when we do get to see each other, we ask each other kind of like all the stupid questions,” Johnson laughed.
“Like, ‘OK, so what wax do you use? How many skis do you bring?'”
Two things can be true at once
Navigating injury and performance pressures on the biggest stage has equipped Johnson with a unique mental skillset. Her experiences have also inspired her to pursue clinical psychology when her skiing career does eventually wind down.
“I would love to work one day with athletes like myself,” she said.
Johnson said her goals for Ruka are still evolving, adding that having less time on snow during the prep period is “a factor, but by no means inhibiting” to optimal performance. For the season, she’s fully focused on process goals, hoping to “stay present at every event.”
“I think I tend to get wrapped up in the outcome and that’s when I tend to tense up. I’m not thinking about any results, scores or places. I’m just trying to see how well I can perform my run on any given day,” she said.
“I think especially on these first few World Cups, like, giving myself the grace to navigate whatever challenges might come my way post-surgery — I’m definitely going to take it as it comes.”
She’s at peace knowing the timing for the operation — during the first non-global championship season in three years — was ideal.
“It’s a good year to get this done and build only up to the Olympics,” she said. For now, the 2025 world championships in Engadine, Switzerland, and the 2026 Olympics in Milano-Cortina, Italy, remain the long-range targets.
“But putting less pressure on myself to get there,” Johnson said. “I think as you get older in a career and life in general, you realize there’s more flexibility to be had, and that’s a good thing.”
When asked if she’s satisfied with her career, Johnson’s paradoxical answer is as ambitious and spirited as her desire to ski bumps as a septuagenarian.
“I’m innately a very competitive, driven person and my dream truly is still to go to the Olympics and win the gold medal. That will be my dream and something I work towards for as long as I’m in this sport, genuinely,” she said before adding that two things can be true at once.
“And, at the same time, I am so proud of everything I have accomplished.”
4 skiers caught in avalanche near Marble Peak avoid serious injuries
Four skiers caught in an avalanche near Marble Peak on Saturday escaped without any serious injuries.
A group of nine backcountry skiers and snowboarders intended to ski north-facing slopes on Raspberry Ridge near Marble when one of the skiers triggered an avalanche while descending the slope, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). Three skiers had successfully descended the slope and waited at the bottom when a fourth skier triggered the avalanche and was carried and partially buried in the snow.
“They moved into a piece of terrain that faces north, which is one of our more problematic aspects because it harbors very weak, early-season snow near the ground,” said Brian Lazar, the deputy director of CAIC, in a phone call with The Aspen Times. “Those northerly aspects have been particularly worrisome for us since essentially the late October snowfall.”
The skier that triggered the avalanche went further right than the first three skiers, which “propagated across the whole terrain feature and resulted in a fairly sizable avalanche,” he said. They were able to get themselves out of the snow after being partially buried.
One of the three skiers waiting at the bottom of the slope was hit by the avalanche from behind and traveled about 100 feet down the slope before getting out of the snow. The other two were partially buried, but their airways were not restricted, he said.
Some of the skiers lost skis and poles during the avalanche, but none were seriously injured.
Lazar commended the skiers for sharing their stories with CAIC because it helps the center and other backcountry skiers and snowboarders understand the current avalanche conditions in the area. People can check CAIC’s app or website for up-to-date avalanche conditions when they plan to ski or snowboard in the backcountry, he said.
“It’s really easy for people to not talk about these things and try to bury them,” he said. “You open yourself up to all kinds of criticism and really nasty comments, so I want to applaud these folks for being willing to share their stories, so that other people can learn from them.”
This Colorado mountain town plans to open a terrain park accessed by tow rope this winter
The Frisco Adventure Park has plans to install a tow rope this winter season that will provide skiers and riders access to a terrain park with rails and jumps.
Frisco has operated a winter tubing and beginner ski hill at the adventure park for several year. Over the past few years, the town has set up a couple rails and small jumps when the tubing hill closes in the spring for skiers and riders who want to hike up to the features.
The tow rope will expand on that early terrain park concept, Frisco Adventure Park operations manager John Anicito said. It is planned to be located to the north of the existing magic carpet and could open by February this year, depending on snow conditions, Anicito said.
“It’s going to be just like the late-season (terrain park) we’ve done out there,” Anicito said. “But it’s going to be off to the skiers right off the carpet, with the goal of getting some jumps and some rails and having a permanent terrain park.”
While the exact details are still being worked out, the tow rope will likely offer a day pass for a low cost during the first year, before offering some kind of season pass in the future, Anicito said. He said the pass will likely tie in the ski-and-ride school program so learners can progress from the magic carpet to the tow rope as their skills improve.
The town budgeted $70,000 from the lodging tax fund for the tow rope. Anicito noted that one cool feature about the tow rope is that it is portable, so when the tubing season is over, it is possible to move the terrain park operations over there, he said.
Anicito noted that local kids enjoy the skate park and bike park throughout the summer, and part of the idea behind the terrain park is to provide another recreational opportunity for young athletes in the wintertime.
Some local winter sports teams, including Team Summit, have previously noted that a terrain park would create more opportunities for athletes to practice their skills, especially during the week, Anicito said. He said the terrain park will be one of just a handful in the state that can be accessed by tow rope.
“Looking big picture it is ‘How can we help the community?'” Anicito said. “Because if you think of kids that are trying to practice their skills after school, unless they go to Woodward, there’s not a whole lot of options out there — maybe Keystone on a couple of nights.”
The tow rope has been ordered but has yet to arrive, Anicito said. He said while the terrain park will just be getting started this year, the hope is to have a longer season and continue to expand the features in years to come.
“I think it’ll be a good testing year just to see what that will look like,” Anicito said. “So for the next season, we’ll hope that things really dialed in.”
Aspen adds canceled Soelden World Cup giant slalom to Winternational races set for March
The canceled men’s giant slalom World Cup race in Soelden, Austria, will now be added to the Stifel Aspen Winternational on Friday, March 1, 2024, according to a news release from U.S. Ski and Snowboard. This is in addition to the scheduled giant slalom and slalom on March 2-3 in Aspen.
The men’s giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, was canceled abruptly on Oct. 29 after strong winds made it clear that the race could not take place in a fair way. A total of 47 racers made it down the track in the first run before the race was put on hold and ultimately called off.
“We are thrilled to bring the canceled giant slalom race to Aspen for an additional day of racing,” said Sophie Goldschmidt, president and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard in the release. “It is exciting to bring another opportunity of racing to our domestic crowd and see our men compete on home soil.”
Aspen Snowmass is seasoned in welcoming the world’s best alpine athletes to its venue with the Stifel America’s Downhill — a downhill and super-G — in the 2022-23 season and World Cup Finals in 2017. Aspen Snowmass has hosted more than 80 World Cup races over nine decades.
“Aspen’s passion for World Cup ski racing is decades old and runs deep,” said John Rigney, senior vice President at Aspen Skiing Company, in the release. “To secure an additional men’s GS race only adds to the excitement around the upcoming Stifel Aspen Winternational and helps make our season kickoff this week even more special for our community.”
Colorado fans will be able to cheer on local favorites in the giant slalom, namely Stifel U.S. Ski Team athlete, world champion and Colorado local River Radamus, as well as world champion Tommy Ford. The race comes shortly after another domestic tech event, the Stifel Palisades Tahoe Cup held Feb. 24-25 in Palisades Tahoe, California.
Colorado resort voted the #1 ski resort by Condé Nast ‘Traveler’ readers
Breckenridge and Beaver Creek landed at No. 17 and 18, respectively, while Vail was voted No. 20, Keystone came in at No. 27, Steamboat snagged No. 32 and Winter Park was No. 35.
“For our 36th annual Readers’ Choice Awards, voters weighed in on their favorite ski resorts in North America. Colorado resorts once again dominated the list of US ski resorts this year, with three of the four mountains at Aspen Snowmass making the top 10 (sic),” Jen Murphy reported on Nov. 7.
It’s a major acknowledgment for Snowmass, which in the past has struggled to be recognized next to its glitzy sister, but not a surprise for those who know the ski area and village best.
“Snowmass has seen so much change in the last five, six years,” said Sara Stookey Sanchez, public relations manager at Snowmass Tourism. “People are realizing that we are a place where you want to ski all day and then also stay for the evening, which wasn’t always the case.”
Stookey Sanchez credits several factors that add to Snowmass’ appeal. From a growing and diverse restaurant scene that includes everything from long-time local favorites like Il Poggio and The Artisan at Stonebridge Inn and relative newcomers like The Tavern Kitchen and Bar, Kenichi, and Mawita to other activities and entertainment, like the family-friendly ice rink and events The Collective at Snowmass Base Village, there really is something for everyone.
She also noted the ease of being in the Village as something that ranks high with guests.
“You don’t really have to have a car you can walk around you can go into Aspen if you want, it’s so easy on the bus, especially in the winter,” she said. “We’re so much more than we used to be. Guests want to stay here and play here, and I think that’s reflected in the survey which is which is awesome.”
But beyond all that, the biggest draw to so many avid skiers and snowboarders is the mountain itself.
At 4,406 vertical feet boasting 3,332 acres of terrain, 150 miles of runs, 94 trails, 21 chairlifts, and access to a variety of cruisers, glades, steeps, terrain parks, and halfpipes, there are a lot of options for winter enthusiasts of every level to explore.
The size of the mountain and the diversity of runs keep it from ever feeling overwhelmingly crowded or claustrophobic, with usually very short wait times to get on the gondola or popular lifts. For those skiing with family and friends at different levels the mountain offers runs ranging from easiest: 6%, to more difficult: 47%, most difficult: 17%, and expert: 30%.
“We have Cirque Headwall and all of that nice hard-charging terrain if that’s what you want,” she said. “You can get that experience here and come with somebody who maybe doesn’t ski as well, and all can still have a great day. It accommodates both expert and the more casual skier.”
Stookey Sanchez said that for those planning to ski Snowmass this winter, there are some fun things on the horizon including the revival of the Snowmass Ice Age Discovery.
For the 2023/24 winter season, Gorsuch will expand their Snowmass presence adding a Gorsuch Ski Café in the old North Face and First Chair Café space and will provide rentals, boot fitting, and retail. The former Patagonia space transforms into Gorsuch Ski Lockers with an upstairs tuning shop.
The Collective Snowmass will continue to be the culture and activities hub in Base Village and will feature a weekly lineup of events including bingo nights, standup comedy, ice skating shows, and live music.
And, on mountain restaurant Alpin Room will welcome Chef Emily Oyer, former Executive Sous Chef at Cloud Nine, to take the helm and reimagine the restaurant’s menu and personality. Chef Oyer is a Food Network-featured chef who won “Chopped” in 2021 and competed on “Beat Bobby Flay” in 2022.
“I’m excited for the season,” she said. “I think we’re all excited for the season.”
Forbes Advisor ranks a Summit County ski area as the 5th best ‘for the money’ in the US
Forbes Advisor has ranked Arapahoe Basin Ski Area as the 5th best ski area in the U.S. in terms of providing the best bang for guests’ buck.
Forbes Advisor compared the cost of a two-day, two-night winter vacation at popular resorts and used a holiday weekend since many chose to travel over those times and is more representative of a the typical vacation.
Forbes Advisor then filtered options for decent snow scores and available lifts and runs and then checked costs at 51 resorts fitting that criteria. Based on the cost of lift tickets, rentals, airfare, accommodations and a car rental, Forbes Advisor was able to narrow down the list to the top 10 ski resorts offering compelling value for the money spent to visit.
A-Basin ranked fifth overall among the list because the ski area ranked the fourth-lowest for average two-day accommodations in the area and offers seven lifts with 108 runs. Two-day accommodation costs roughly $200 on average with airfare to the area being the lowest on average at $336.93.
A-Basin ranked behind Utah’s Brian Head Resort (No.1), Eagle Point Resort (No. 2), Beaver Mountain Ski Resort (No. 3) and Idaho’s Silver Mountain Resort (No. 4). A-Basin was the only ski area in Colorado to make the list.
Birds of Prey World Cup races a go at Beaver Creek after passing snow control test
Beaver Creek passed a snow control test on Friday, Nov. 17, after which the International Ski and Snowboard Federation gave the green light for the Birds of Prey ski races to return to the mountain in early December.
Passing the test means the course is in good condition and will be ready to host the men’s downhill and super-G training and races from Nov. 28 through Dec. 3.
“Beaver Creek is known for its incredible early-season conditions, and we are happy to have official word that our course is once again in excellent shape for racing,” said Event Director Sarah Franke of the nonprofit Vail Valley Foundation, which hosts the event each year. “A huge congrats and thank you goes out to our partners at Beaver Creek Mountain and our amazing race crew, known for creating one of the best racecourses in the world. We can’t wait to welcome the world’s fastest men back to this iconic course in the upcoming weeks.”
The Birds of Prey races have been held in Beaver Creek since 1997.
Nov. 28-30: Downhill training Dec. 1: 10:45 a.m., Downhill 1 Dec. 2: 10:45 a.m., Downhill 2 Dec. 3: 10:45 a.m., Super G
*Race times subject to change.
Domestic Television Schedule
Friday, Dec. 1
10:45 a.m. – Downhill, live on Outside (free)
Saturday, Dec. 2
10:45 a.m. – Downhill, live on Outside (free) 12:00 p.m. – Friday’s downhill (delayed) on CNBC 3:00 p.m. – Saturday’s downhill (delayed) on NBC
Sunday, Dec. 3
10:45 a.m. – Super G, live on Outside (free) 2:30 p.m. – Super G (delayed) on NBC
Crested Butte to open on Nov. 22, giving Epic Pass holders another option
Crested Butte Mountain Resort will welcome guests back for the 2023-24 ski and ride season on Wednesday, Nov. 22.
Guests at Crested Butte can expect a banner break, lift line giveaways, free snacks, limited edition opening day posters, a DJ spinning track on the snow by Red Lady Express and all-day happy hour specials at Butte 66.
Nov. 22 will also mark the start of another exciting season which will feature six YETI Natural Selection DUELS in February, as well as the 50th annual Al Johnson Memorial Telemark Race in March. Crested Butte plans to unveil its new restaurant concept in the Grand Lodge called Highlife Crust & Crafts, which serves hand-tossed pizza and draft brews.
Crested Butte will share an opening day with Beaver Creek Resort. Both Crested Butte and Beaver Creek are featured on the Epic Pass. To purchase an Epic Pass, visit EpicPass.com.