On Friday, Arapahoe Basin became the first ski area in North American to open, and World Cup ski racing action kicks off this weekend in Soelden, Austria, but for the most part it still seems like mountain-bike season in Colorado’s high country.
“We’re hoping the weather cools down so we can make snow and open these gates for the 2014-2015 season,” Loveland Ski Area posted on its website Monday, referring to a picture of its closed front gates. “This weekend was too warm for our snowmakers to make snow. Do your snow dances and send some winter weather this way.”
Loveland typically opens about the same time as A-Basin but is obviously still waiting this season. Next up, both Keystone and Copper Mountain are scheduled to open on Halloween, which this year falls on Friday, Oct. 31.
Aspen and Snowmass don’t even get into the mix for another month or so – at which point colder temps and natural snow will most certainly be swirling around the central Rockies – but anyone looking for a World Cup preview should tune into Universal Sports Network this weekend.
Both the men and the women get under way on the Rettenback Glacier, with a women’s giant slalom on Saturday and a men’s GS on Sunday. Eagle-Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin hopes to improve on her sixth-place finish there last season, and Park City’s Ted Ligety hopes to defend his GS title.
Shiffrin is much improved in GS, having also claimed a fifth in the event at the Sochi Winter Olympics earlier this year. She’ll also be a heavy favorite to break the U.S. Ski Team’s longstanding drought on home snow at the Aspen Winternational giant slalom on Saturday, Nov. 29, and in the slalom on Sunday, Nov. 30.
The Aspen race will be one of only two opportunities to watch Shiffrin in person in the United States this ski season. The double Olympic and World Championship gold medalist in slalom is gunning for her 10th career World Cup win. She’ll also look to defend her world title at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek Feb. 2-15.
Both Aspen Mountain and Snowmass are set to open to the public on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, a little over a month from now. The Soelden races will be shown both on air and at UniversalSports.com starting this weekend (full press release and schedule below).
As for recreational skiing, things appear to be on hold for the next week or so, with a mild storm moving through the state mid-week but giving way to sunny, dry weather through the weekend.
“High elevation snow on Tuesday night, then a chance for some snow next Monday-ish.,” writes meteorologist Joel Gratz of Opensnow.com. “Otherwise still warm-ish temperatures with no prolonged period of cold/snow in sight.”
Universal Sports Network press release:
Universal Sports Network will present extensive multi-platform coverage of the 2014-15 FIS Alpine Ski World Cup both on air and at UniversalSports.com starting with the season’s opener in Soelden, Austria this October 25 and 26. Continuing through March 2015, Universal Sports will showcase more than 65 international alpine competitions and 100 hours of exclusive television coverage, including the World Cup finals from Meribel, France. In addition, UniversalSports.com is scheduled to live stream more than 250 hours of full event competition for authenticated users.
LIVE television coverage of the 2014-15 FIS Alpine Ski World Cup begins Saturday, October 25, at 6:30 a.m. ET with the women’s giant slalom from Soelden, Austria, and continues with the men’s giant slalom on Sunday, October 26, at 7:30 a.m. ET. LIVE streaming begins at 3:30 a.m. ET on both days.
With the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships taking place in the U.S. at Vail-Beaver Creek this February, the U.S. Ski Team faces extra pressure against the world’s best skiers this year. The 2014-15 season will see Austria’s Marcel Hirscher and Anna Fenninger defending their overall World Cup titles against veterans Askel Lund Svindel (SUI), Ted Ligety (USA) and Tina Maze (SLO), in what could be her final season, alongside the next generation of skiers including Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen and the USA’s rising star Mikaela Shiffrin.
Not to be overlooked is veteran Lindsey Vonn (USA) who is looking to make a much-anticipated comeback following major knee surgery this past January which sidelined her from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Vonn has indicated that she hopes to be race-ready by the Lake Louise World Cup speed races December 5-7 which will air LIVE on Universal Sports. Already the most decorated American skier in history, Vonn has 59 World Cup race victories which is just three short of the women’s record held by Austrian legend Annemarie Moser-Pröll.
Presented by Longines, Universal Sports’ broadcast coverage of the 2014-15 FIS Alpine Ski World Cup will feature the veteran play-by-play announcer Steve Porino and analyst Doug Lewis. This year’s broadcasts will also include the newly-designed Audi Race Room where the network’s analysts give viewers an insider’s look at the elite competition by breaking down the techniques and technologies behind individual performances.
“2015 was supposed to be a curtain call for two of the sport’s biggest stars, Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn, but Miller, Vonn and Julia Mancuso have more in them and are all back,” Porino commented about Team USA. “I predict that we’re also going to watch Mikaela Shiffrin bud from best slalom skier in the world to one of the best skiers, period. And Ted Ligety will continue to cement his legend as one of the greatest giant slalom skiers to have ever lived by adding another World Championship title.”
With regard to the international scene, Porino added, “Fans need to tune in to watch the male version of Shiffrin in 20-year-old Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen, who is the youngest male Olympic alpine medalist ever. He’s as impressive as three-time overall World Cup winner Marcel Hirscher, who at 25 is the atypical Austrian: slight in stature, big on personality, and he still calls his dad from the starting gate. It’s hard to imagine who will stand in his way this season.”
The FIS Alpine Ski World Cup is the top international circuit of alpine skiing competitions, with men’s and women’s skiers competing in the slalom, giant slalom, Super G, downhill and combined, a combination of downhill and slalom. This year’s events will take place in Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
Universal Sports Network’s award-winning alpine coverage is available on Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Cox Communications, Verizon FiOS, CenturyLink Prism, Google Fiber, satellite providers DIRECTV and DISH and numerous regional cable and IPTV operators in markets across the country. Click HERE to find USN on your channel finder.
Subject to change, all times Eastern. Visit UniversalSports.com for schedule updates and streaming times.