VAL D’ISERE TO THE RESCUE
18th November 2016 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Last modified on August 21st, 2020
The French resort steps in to hold World Cup racing as a lack of snow in North America forces the cancellation of races in Lake Louise, Canada & Beaver Creek, USA.
It is hosting the races that would have been held at Beaver Creek in Colorado.
The French resort has some of the best conditions in the world with 60cm in town and 90cm on the glacier.
More snow is falling this weekend.
Thanks also to having the largest snow-making operation in Europe Val d’Isère has a reputation as the most snow-sure destination in Europe where good conditions over Christmas and New Year as well as at Easter are guaranteed.
It is also uniquely positioned for race preparation.
The plan is for the races to take place between Friday, December 2 and Sunday, December 4 on the Oreiller-Killy (OK) race course, which stretches from the top of Bellevarde down to La Daille.
The schedule for the races will shortly be confirmed by the International Ski Federation (FIS).
Pisteurs in Val d’Isère have already been hard at work on the mountain in preparation for the 61st Critérium de la Première Neige.
This takes place December 9-18 and features Men’s World Cup Races on the Face de Bellevarde and Women’s races on the OK course.
Official from the FIS inspected the courses in Val d’Isère yesterday (November 18) and commented on the excellent snow conditions and advanced state of preparation.
“Firstly, we’re really sad for our friends in Beaver Creek. We know too well all the hard work that has to go into organizing a World Cup ski race and the loss in energy, time, and money that a cancellation represents,” said Vincent Jay, director of Val d’Isère’s Club des Sports.
“Ski racing is has been in our genes for the past 60 years. In the past we have organized countless World Cup races and we can do this at short notice when we have to. We are proud to meet the challenge of organizing eight races in three weeks,” he added.
Michel Vion, president of the French Ski Federation commented: “The ski industry in France and everywhere else in the world is delighted that Val d’Isère has risen to the challenge and thanks the FIS for giving it the opportunity. It’s crucial for the World Cup that it sticks to the scheduled calendar, even if this means some last-minute changes. So, for three weeks World Cup Alpine skiing will be centred on Val d’Isère. I’m certain that the resort will produce some great races.”
There’s better news from North America for the women.
The GS and slalom races scheduled for Killington, Vermont, in the north-east US, WILL take place on 26th and 27th November.
So too will the downhill and super G races at Lake Louise on 2nd to 4th December. These had been in doubt but officials delayed their final inspection until Monday 21st November when a decision was made that conditions were now good enough for racing.
But Lake Louise, which opened for public skiing on Friday, was not deemed ready to host the men’s event which was due to take place the week before the women’s races, following a long spell of warm weather and minimal snow.
It’s reported to be the first time in 29 years of hosting World Cups that a Lake Louise event has had to be called off.
Until last weekend there was hope that the men’s Olympic downhill course would be ready to host the races – the men’s super-G and downhill – but on Wednesday, that hope evaporated.
“While we have good snow conditions on the upper mountain, we didn’t have enough cold to get to the finish line for the men,” said race chairman, Brian Lynam.
The colder weather hasn’t helped Beaver Creek.
The winter storm which hit Colorado midweek was not enough to save the men’s downhill, super G and GS races, scheduled for the first weekend in December.
FIS officials say the snow and colder temperatures now in Beaver Creek Resort and the Vail Valley did not come soon enough to allow race crews to create the demanding 2,620 metre-long Birds of Prey course.
“Beaver Creek typically has some of the best early season conditions in the world and a remarkably sophisticated snowmaking system,” said Mike Imhof, President and CEO of the Vail Valley Foundation.
“We now look forward to hosting our beloved Birds of Prey World Cup ski race in 2017.”
The cancellations are a huge disappointment, particularly since World Cup racing moves from North America to Europe from mid-December onwards, and is not back on the other side of the Atlantic until March, with the final races being held in Aspen, Colorado.
The men would have had to wait until 16th/17th December for their first taste of competition in the speed events, with the downhill and super G in Val Gardena, Italy.
But now Val d’Isère has stepped in and will run the cancelled Beaver Creek races between December 2nd and 4th. Races in the technical disciplines of GS and slalom will also be held in the French resort a week later.
At least there will be some World Cup racing in North America this side of Christmas, with the women going at both Killington and Lake Louise.
The US team skier and Olympic slalom champion, Mikaela Shiffrin, has been out on the mountain at Killington inspecting conditions ahead of the slalom and GS races.
Temperatures in New England have been more favourable than in other parts of the country and have allowed for intensive snowmaking on the Superstar racecourse.
It has 120 snow cannons – that’s one every 6 metres from the start to the finish line.
It’s the first time the eastern US has hosted World Cup action in 25 years, and the move has clearly paid off.
The General Manager of Killington Resort and Pico Mountain, Mike Solimano, said the decision to go ahead with racing reinforced what they already knew.
“Killington has ample snow on Superstar to host the world’s fastest female ski racers,” he said, “and our mountain operations team has the knowledge and horsepower to make more snow in the early season than any other ski area in the country.”
Read our earlier article about the the lack of early season snow in America.
See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.
PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news