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Preparation Begins: 2017 Audi FIS Women's World Cup

Preparation Begins: 2017 Audi FIS Women's World Cup

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On a recent humid spring morning, I joined a small group gathered at the bottom of the Superstar Express Quad, where ski poles were passed out and Kahtoola snow spikes were fitted on hiking boots amidst a dense cloud of bug spray. 

With the winter season having closed on June 1st, just days prior, it was time again for the pre-inspection of Superstar Trail for the upcoming 2017 Women’s World Cup race.  Prior to each World Cup race, the FIS or International Ski Federation comes to town to conduct a “walk down” inspection of the ski trail.  Along with Resort and US Ski and Snowboard staff, this unofficial event kicks off the months of behind the scenes planning and preparation for this prestigious Thanksgiving Weekend event.

During a tranquil ride up the Superstar express quad, stories were swapped about the long ski season, other World Cup events and the unforgotten challenges and success of the previous November at Killington.  

The surreal scene at the top of Superstar that spring morning, including the unbelievable views and the words of congratulations from the FIS technical representatives, vanished as quickly as the black flies arrived and talk of the upcoming race began. 

With tape measures out and furious conversions from meters to feet, a new race start location, slightly higher on the trail, was determined and agreed on.  As we picked our way down the shrinking snowfields discussing terrain undulations and locations for high speed turns, I couldn’t help thinking back to the extensive planning and snowmaking team efforts that took place to get a World Cup worthy amount of snow on the ground during one of the warmest early Novembers in the last decade.

With much of the GS course race change discussions behind us, a spirited discussion about the Slalom start location was held, including start angles, grades, race flow versus terrain and length of race.  Another new location determined, ribbon flags placed and hydrant locations noted.  The narrows of Tower 4 became the next focus, as a plan for some grading improvements and trail edging were put on the growing task list.  

And so it began, with thoughts of mountain biking, swimming and visits to the Snowshed Umbrella Bar Deck pushed aside by sketches and notes on terrain grading, ledge pecking, new start locations, a new coach’s viewing structure, improved finish line and yes, more snowmaking infrastructure! 

With about 100 days to go until we fire up those snowguns again, I revel in the fact that increased snowmaking for World Cup means skiing even later into next spring.  The 2017 Women’s World Cup and the longest season; it doesn’t get any better…

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