World Cup sliding events set to make return to Park City this winter
Races to be held in North America for first time since pandemic
World Cup events for bobsled, skeleton and luge will be held in North America for the first time this winter since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Park City will be hosting all three sports.
The track at the Utah Olympic Park will be put to good use toward the tail end of 2022. The Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cups stop at the UOP from Nov. 28 through Dec. 4, and then the Luge World Cup will be in town from Dec. 15 through Dec. 17.
“We’re excited,” said Aron McGuire, chief executive officer of USA Bobsled/Skeleton. “Certainly, COVID has had an impact on how we do business and what the season’s looking like. After spending the last two years in Europe exclusively, other than the Olympics in Beijing, and not being in North America and not being in the United States and not being in Park City, we’re excited and thrilled to be back on home ice and race in front of a home crowd.”
McGuire added that there was an emphasis on getting more North American events this upcoming season. North American bobsled and skeleton athletes haven’t had the opportunity to compete on home ice since the 2019-20 season.
“We felt like it was the right thing to do to really support the athletes and support the tracks,” McGuire said. “We were able to put together a strong argument and present it to the (International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation), and ultimately they agreed with us.”
The U.S. took home three medals in bobsled this year in Beijing. Kaillie Humphries won gold in women’s monobob, while Elana Meyers Taylor took silver in the event and added a bronze medal in the two-woman bobsled event with Sylvia Hoffman. There’s hope that these performances will give the U.S. some forward momentum in the future.
“We’re looking forward to starting the season off coming off, for us, a very successful Olympic Games,” McGuire said. “Not only on the track, but a number of viewers from back in the United States watched the women’s monobob earn gold and silver. We’re excited to take that success of Beijing and carry that right into this season.”
Park City hasn’t hosted World Cup bobsled and skeleton events since 2017. The track at the UOP was originally going to host a World Cup in 2019, but mechanical issues with the track forced it to be moved to Lake Placid instead. Because of the hiatus, McGuire noted that it was important to host an event in Park City again.
“When you have a break in World Cup races, it’s hard to maintain that relationship with the fans,” he said. “This is an opportunity for us to reengage with the community in Utah and Park City and Salt Lake City. But it’s also a great opportunity for us to continue that strength and that community support and that fan engagement there at the track.”
It’s been a while since Park City hosted a luge World Cup event, with the last one held in 2016. For Park City luger and 2022 Olympian Ashley Farquharson, it’s a relief to finally have the opportunity to race at home.
“I’m really excited my parents get to be there, and they haven’t seen me race a World Cup yet,” Farquharson said. “Every time they book a trip, it somehow gets canceled, so they’re really excited for that, too. I think it’ll be very cool.”
For a long time, the course at the UOP was Farquharson’s second home. It’s where she first learned the sport, and it’s safe to say that she’s gotten to know the course really well. It’s gotten to the point where it’s hard for her to estimate how many times she’s piloted her way down it.
“It’s easily in the thousands,” she said. “I grew up there, and you would get five runs a day Tuesday to Friday every week for five months. Maybe 5,000 runs. Like, a lot.”
Farquharson finished last season tied for 15th in the overall World Cup standings. In Beijing, the Parkite finished 12th – the best of any American woman – and helped the U.S. come in seventh in the team relay event. And now she has the opportunity to race at home on a course that hasn’t held a World Cup in years.
“The tracks that people don’t get to train on often really level the playing field,” she said. “So, I think that it’ll be cool, and maybe we’ll see some new people on the podium.”
The Park City event will also be the last World Cup race in 2022 before picking back up in January, giving Farquharson plenty of time to come home and relax midseason. It’s a nice change of pace for her after the last two seasons.
“We’ve had a lot of North American World Cups taken away from us in the last couple years, so I think it’s really cool that this is going to happen,” she said.
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