The International Ski Federation (FIS) and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) announced today that Squaw Valley will host an Audi FIS World Cup in March 2017, consisting of a women’s giant slalom on Friday, March 10 and a women’s slalom on Saturday, March 11. The event will mark the return of World Cup ski racing to California for the first time in 19 years. The World Cup will bring Olympic champions like Mikaela Shiffrin and Squaw Valley’s own Julia Mancuso to compete on the legendary Red Dog run, which also played host to the ladies’ slalom and giant slalom events at the 1969 World Cup and 1960 Winter Olympics.
“As a mountain community, we are hosting this event to inspire the next generation of ski racers,” said Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. “There is nothing like watching a group of young athletes standing there in the finish corral looking up and truly being motivated by the best athletes in the world. With 1,500 kids in our race program and countless others in the region, this is the stage we must set for them to achieve their goals, in ski racing or otherwise.”
“I’m also proud to designate Kyle Crezee as our World Cup Committee Chair for this event,” continued Wirth. “Crezee is our events director here at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, and he has paved the way for the World Cup by hosting major events like U.S. Nationals. He is passionate about propelling our ski racing heritage into the future.”
Built on the legacy of the 1960 Winter Olympics hosted at Squaw Valley, the resort has since reared celebrated athletes such as Jonny Moseley, Julia Mancuso, Travis Ganong, Marco Sullivan, JT Holmes, Michelle Parker, Cody Townsend, Jeremy Jones, Ralph Backstrom, Nate Holland, and Errol Kerr.
“Growing up at Squaw Valley, I have been hoping for the return of the World Cup for a long time, and now we have the chance to show the world that our Olympic legacy is very much alive,” said Olympic champion and Squaw Valley native Julia Mancuso. “The terrain at Squaw Valley is what raised me as a skier, and I know that when my peers stand on top of the course on Red Dog they will see what competitors saw in 1960 and 1969: one of the most challenging courses in the world. So many of today’s racers have trained and competed on Red Dog in the past, and now we can see this legendary venue re-emerge onto the world stage.”
Squaw Valley’s addition to the schedule is part of a broad initiative by the USSA to raise the profile of alpine ski racing in America. Last year’s World Championships in Vail-Beaver Creek attracted record U.S. television audiences with live coverage on NBC and NBCSN, plus a global reach of 800 million. The Audi FIS Ski World Cup Finals in Aspen will also attract a large global audience. The USSA has taken the opportunity to incorporate new venues including a Nov. 25-26, 2016 women’s giant slalom and slalom in Killington, VT, plus the annual men’s December World Cup events in Beaver Creek, CO. With Squaw Valley added to the calendar, the USA has 16 Audi FIS Ski World Cup events in America next season, the second highest ever.
“Bringing the FIS Alpine World Cup to four different sites this season will continue to grow the visibility of alpine ski racing in America,” said USSA President and CEO Tiger Shaw. “Squaw Valley has partnered with the USSA to host many events and, with a strong Olympic legacy and a world-class venue, they are a welcome addition to the World Cup circuit. It’s a great opportunity for our stars, including Squaw Valley local Julia Mancuso, to race in front of their hometown crowd ahead of the World Cup finals.”
The Red Dog race venue was also the host of the 2014 Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships, attracting large crowds of kids who came to see their favorite ski racing stars. Mikaela Shiffrin, the current reigning Olympic slalom champion, took the giant slalom gold in the 2014 event and returned to the Red Dog course in April of this year to train with fellow athletes from the U.S. women’s team.
“Red dog is an awesome slope, the hill itself is super challenging and fun to ski,” said Mikaela Shiffrin. “The middle section has a lot of terrain variation: a break over, fall-aways, side hills, and bank turns. You have to be able to really attack the course. By the time you hit the pitch, which is one of the longest sustained pitches on the World Cup besides Soelden, you are already 45 seconds into the run and your legs are burning. Then you come over the break over and you can see the finish and your thinking, ‘Oh man, I’m not even close! Okay, here we go!’ I feel incredibly thankful to have trained a few days on Red Dog this spring to get a feel for the terrain. Red Dog is the kind of hill where the more you ski it the better you can balance being tactically smart and attacking at the same time, so while knowing what to expect won’t make it any easier, it will help me find that balance.”
“I am really excited about having another World Cup weekend in the U.S.,” continued Shiffrin. “These past few years have been huge for ski racing in America with World Championships in Vail and Aspen, and now Killington and Squaw Valley coming up. I’m so psyched that mountains are taking interest in hosting races. It’s no small task, but it’s spreading the word about our awesome sport and drumming up more excitement!”
The Red Dog giant slalom course begins at 7,520 feet at the top of Snow King Peak, descending 1,267 feet before the finish at 6,252 feet at the base area of Squaw Valley. The slalom course will be sited on the lower portion of the same course, dropping 656 vertical feet from its start on Lower Dog Leg. Both courses feature challenging steeps and fall-away pitches on the notorious “Dog Leg” section of the course, the lower part of which lies in plain sight of the finish and spectator viewing area.
“Squaw is probably going to be the most difficult GS on the tour next year for the ladies,” said Atle Skårdal, FIS chief race director for the ladies’ Alpine World Cup. “It is a very, very technical and difficult hill, which we’re excited about. It seems to be a really keen organizing committee that is proactive in developing something memorable for everybody. Like Killington, it’s not a long-term deal with Squaw for the moment, but you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. The production of a really great event has to be the motivation for these organizing committees.”
The weekend-long events will welcome thousands of spectators and fans to North Lake Tahoe. The entire community will play host to ski racing enthusiasts, aspiring young skiers and media from around the world. The event will be broadcast across America on NBC and NBCSN, and will be seen during primetime evening hours in Europe as well as across the globe, highlighting athletic talent and the Squaw Valley destination.
“From perfect bluebird days and adrenaline pumping trails to luxurious resorts and cool après ski vibes, winter in The Golden State is like nowhere else in the world,” said Visit California President & CEO Caroline Beteta. “The 2017 Alpine World Cup will put an international spotlight on one of California’s most majestic ski destinations and showcase the high altitude thrills and laid-back lifestyle that make for a snow experience that is uniquely Californian.”
All information about the 2017 World Cup at Squaw Valley, including information on schedule, tickets, media hosting, volunteering, venue and athletes will be hosted on WorldCupSquaw.com.
Release courtesy of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows