USA wraps up record World Cup season
February competition at Deer Valley part of success
March 31, 2017
The U.S. Ski Team wrapped up the Audi FIS Ski World Cup season recently with a spectacular week of racing at the World Cup Finals in Aspen. More than 30,000 fans packed the stadium with estimated global TV audiences of over 25 million tuning in, including more than two million U.S. viewers on NBC and NBCSN. It was the first time World Cup Finals were held in the USA in 20 years and the first time ever an American alpine skier received an overall crystal globe on home snow.
The Finals capped one of the biggest seasons of alpine World Cup ski racing in America. The USA came into the season with 16 races – one of the biggest calendars in history. World Cup weekends at some of America's most noted resorts, including Killington, Squaw Valley and Aspen, drew in excess of 75,000 fans. Despite a strong snow season at Beaver Creek, races there were canceled due to late arriving snowfall.
The strong U.S. World Cup calendar was part of an initiative by U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association to piggyback on the very successful 2015 World Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek to further elevate awareness of alpine ski racing in America and great American stars like Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin who were both on the podium in Aspen.
"Aspen has such a culture of ski racing and that really came out in the atmosphere all week long," said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Vice President, Events Calum Clark. "Race hill management was superb, providing excellent courses for the athletes and fair competitions despite warm temperatures. In town, the festivities at Wagner Park from sponsor booths to the Michael Franti concert created an enthusiastic environment for fans."
The U.S. won the bid for the World Cup Finals in Aspen in June of 2014, which opened the doors to adding new World Cups in Killington and Squaw Valley.
"We now have four iconic American ski resorts that have shown they can produce truly world class events," said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Tiger Shaw. "Each site did a remarkable job in providing the best racing surfaces for the athletes, plus creating an atmosphere that brought record numbers of fans to the events – much as Vail/Beaver Creek did two years ago for World Championships."
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Racing kicked off in November in Killington with some of the biggest crowds in women's World Cup history to watch France's Tessa Worley win the giant slalom and Shiffrin take the slalom – both going on to win the respective crystal globes. More than 26,000 fans packed the venue as World Cup racing returned to racing-rich New England for the first time in 25 years.
Squaw Valley produced remarkable racing on Red Dog for the women with Shiffrin sweeping the weekend. With a strong community culture for ski racing, and 20,000 fans on hand for the two-race weekend.
The return of springtime racing to Aspen brought back memories of the men's tour years ago. Sunshine and blue skies greeted fans, with perfect course conditions for the athletes. Vonn opened the week finishing second in the women’s downhill. A few days later, Shiffrin took the final slalom win, walking away with the slalom crystal globe and the women's overall title.
"Athletes, fans and sponsors all had a remarkable experience in Aspen," said Shaw. "Aspen is an iconic site on the World Cup tour and we want to return in the future."
Every U.S. race was broadcast live or same day on NBC or NBCSN, along with live streaming on NBCsports.com and the NBC Sports app. More than 20 hours were broadcast on national television, plus live primetime coverage in Europe, as well as live coverage into China.
“The multi-year commitment of the USSA, our media partners and resorts have truly advanced the awareness of alpine ski racing in America and its corresponding sponsorship value,” said USSA Chief Marketing Officer Michael Jaquet. “Central to this has been the success of our U.S. Ski Team star athletes over the past few years and our ability to showcase that through our events on national television.”
The success of the three weekends of alpine ski racing will be a part of what is anticipated to be a record year of broadcast reach in America, expected to eclipse the 24 million viewers from the World Championship year two seasons ago.
The USSA is presently working with American World Cup sites to present its calendar proposal to the International Ski Federation for the 2017-18 Audi FIS Ski World Cup calendar, which will be determined by FIS in May.