The International Federation of Skiing (FIS) announced that the North American races of the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup have been canceled for the upcoming ski season, removing the annual stops in Lake Louise, Killington, and Beaver Creek from the 2020 circuit. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the organizers have created a full World Cup program that will travel exclusively on the European continent and include proposed additional races in France and Switzerland to make up for the North American events.
“The objective of FIS is to carry out a full World Cup competition program, protecting the health and welfare of all participants to the best extent possible,” FIS shared on its website. “The temporary re-alignment of the FIS Alpine World Cup Calendar caters to this goal by focusing on athlete safety, reducing travel, and providing competitors with a detailed competition calendar.”
“The desire and motivation to hold these races as scheduled for all parties was strong,” said Markus Waldner, FIS men’s Chief Race Director, in the same statement. “The training set-up and races in USA and Canada are very much appreciated by the teams. But ultimately, the unique logistics and situation for the early season alpine races have current travel restrictions and corresponding quarantine regulations in both directions, which led to this joint decision.”
The proposed substitute stops for the men’s tour will be in Val d’Isere, France in early December, and feature giant slalom races from December 5-6; the downhill and super-G events are slated to take place during the weekend of December 12-13. The women’s replacement races include an additional downhill race in St. Moritz, Switzerland, December 5-6, and technical races in Courchevel, France.
These proposed replacement races are under preliminary rescheduling and will not be officially approved until the end of September 2020.
The U.S. Ski Team, Canadian Snowsports Association, and the local organizers at all three venues released a joint statement yesterday expressing gratitude to those who had already started the planning process for the now-canceled North American events.
“Attention to detail and thoughtfulness provided a pathway to hold our events this season, but we all agreed to make this very difficult but necessary decision, in order to prioritize the best interest of our Alpine World Cup athletes, coaches, technicians, volunteers, media, staff, all our World Cup fans and the Alpine World Cup tour, as a whole,” the joint statement states. “Although the North American alpine venues and fans will be missed this season, we look forward to the Alpine World Cup’s return to USA and Canada for the 2021-’22 season.”
“It’s such a pleasure to be able to race in the U.S., and race in the east coast with those east coast fans screaming,” says American ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin in an Instagram post. “It’s also such a joy to see so many young ski racers in our nation there to cheer us all on. It’s amazing, and I am going to really miss it this year. It has been special to race in Killington the last few years…I think for the entire World Cup women’s circuit. So, this is a bummer, however—it’s going to feel so incredible next year to race in Killington, to have some sense of normalcy, and to get back to all of the things we love to do.
The Vail Valley Foundation, who is the primary organizer of the Xfinity Birds of Prey World Cup stop at Beaver Creek, Colo., also released a statement today expressing sadness that the event is canceled for 2020, but is understanding that the cancelation is in the public’s best interest during a global pandemic.
“It is clear this decision is in the best interest of the health and safety of the world cup athletes, coaches, technicians, volunteers, media, staff, all of the World Cup fans, and the World Cup tour itself,” said Vail Valley Foundation President Mike Imhof in a press release. “We look forward to welcoming the world back to Beaver Creek in December 2021, and thank all of our partners for their hard work, thoughtful discussion, and unity throughout this process.”
Watch: Tommy Ford’s Winning Giant Slalom Run at 2019 Birds of Prey