The best lady ski racers in the world are in Aspen, Colo. for the post-Thanksgiving opening of North American leg of the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup. The Nature Valley Aspen Winternationals will be run Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 24 and 25.
The spotlight is shining on 17-year-old Michaela Shifrin, fresh from a podium appearance in Finland.
“Mikaela Shiffrin is doing awesome so she’s the one to look out for,” said U.S. Ski Team veteran Julia Mancuso of Squaw Valley, Calif. “I have to watch my back so she doesn’t beat me.” Mancuso said the courses are on a steep hill so “you can’t relax.”
Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsey Vonn, who got back on skis Sunday after a 3-day hospital stay last week for a stomach illness, is on the start list for the events, but remains day-to-day on competing, according to Head Coach Alex Hoedlmoser.
The Winternationals also mark the return of U.S. racer Resi Stiegler who tore her ACL in the World Cup finals last spring.
Hoedlmoser said Mancuso has “done an incredible job preparing for another podium in Aspen and Mikaela (Shiffrin) is skiing very well.
“The atmosphere in Aspen is amazing,” Shiffrin said. “It feels like home and is one my favorite race hills. But, it is also one of the most difficult.”
The prime viewing spot for spectators is in the grandstands at the base of Lift 1A on Aspen Mountain. Television coverage of the Giant Slalom is planned Sunday, Nov. 25 from 1-2 p.m. ET on NBC, followed by live coverage of the second run of slalom from 2-4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. PLUM TV will broadcast the events in eight local markets across the country including Aspen and Vail.
Photo: Previous Aspen Winternational slalom finish (AspenSnowmass.com)