The Stage Has Been Set for The Nature Valley Aspen Winternational

Posted By: The Ski Channel on November 21, 2011 9:39 am

After winning the opening race of the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season on Oct. 22, Olympic gold medalist and World Champion Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) will enter the Nov. 26-27 Nature Valley Aspen Winternational wearing the giant slalom leader bib.

Vonn’s victory in Soelden, Austria etched a new line in alpine history as she became the first American woman (fifth international) to win in all five World Cup disciplines. Vonn now leads all Americans (male and female) with 42 World Cup victories, which ties her for fourth of all-time amongst women with Swede Anja Paerson.

“Aspen is a very difficult race hill, a podium there is big, but a win is huge,” said Vonn, who has been prepping on her home slope in nearby Vail. “Winning in Soelden was a huge boost for my confidence and I’d love to keep things rolling in Aspen.”

Vonn’s first GS podium came near the close of the 2011 season and put her soundly in position for a down-to-the-wire fight for the overall crown. A battle she had to forfeit by a mere three points when the final races of the season, a giant slalom, was canceled due to snow conditions.

Aspen resets the stage for what could be another season-long fight. Following the weather cancelation of the Nov. 12 slalom in Levi, Finland, the Thanksgiving weekend races mark the open to the North American World Cup swing and jump start the every weekend sprint to World Cup Finals.

The Nature Valley Aspen Winternational airs on nationwide on NBC Sunday, Nov. 27 at 1 p.m. ET.

In addition to Vonn, the U.S. Ski Team will be represented at Aspen by three-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA), four-time Olympian Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO), Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY), NorAm overall champion Kiley Staples (Park City, UT) and 16-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO). Olympian Hailey Duke (Boise, ID) will join the group with a slalom start.

“The snow in Colorado has been awesome,” said Mancuso, who was top 10 in the opening race at Soelden. “We’ve had some of the best training of all time leading up to Aspen and hopefully we can put on a show for the home crowd.”

In addition to preparation at Vail’s Golden Peak and the newly opened U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain, U.S. women were also able to train two days on the race hill at Aspen.

“It’s an insane course. It’s so steep and challenging, and we actually have a big advantage because we get to ski on it for a couple days,” said Schleper during a Nov. 18 visit to Aspen Middle School following a training session. “We love this race and we love being here in Colorado.”

“Aspen is ready to rock,” said John Rigney, Aspen Skiing Company VP. “Our snow is fantastic, we’re opening Snowmass early, and the race course is buffed out. Hosting the Nature Valley Aspen Winternational and the amazing U.S. women will cap off a special week in Aspen/Snowmass.”

The event opens Friday, Nov. 25 with a U.S. Ski Team autograph session followed by a World Cup kick-off party and public bib draw. Racing kicks in to gear Saturday with a giant slalom, followed by a slalom on Sunday.

For complete details, visit http://www.aspensnowmass.com/.

Nature Valley Aspen Winternational (all times local)

Friday, Nov. 25
4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Public Wax Room Tours – Mountain Chalet Parking Garage
5:30 – 6:30 p.m. U.S. Ski Team Autograph Signing – Limelight Lodge
5:30 – 7:30 p.m. World Cup Kick-Off Party – Limelight Lodge
6:30 – 6:45 p.m. Public Bib Draw Featuring Top 15 Racers – Limelight Lodge

Saturday, November 26
10:15 a.m. Women’s giant slalom first run – Strawpile
11:45 a.m. Taste of Winternational featuring complimentary food tastings and beverages
1:15 p.m. Women’s Giant Slalom Final – Strawpile
6:30 – 8 p.m. Bud Light Hi-Fi Concert Series Featuring Cowboy Mouth – Upper Gondola Plaza
8 p.m. Public Awards Ceremony & Fireworks Extravaganza – Upper Gondola Plaza

Sunday, November 27

10:15 a.m. Women’s slalom first run – Strawpile
11:45 a.m. Taste of Winternational featuring complimentary food tastings and beverages
1:00 p.m. Women’s Slalom Final – Strawpile

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