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Next winter, North American ski racing fans will get a chance to experience a taste of the European ski racing scene without crossing an ocean. If all goes according to plan, Mont Tremblant in Quebec will join the 2023 alpine World Cup circuit as a new event host for two women’s giant slalom races on Dec. 2-3, 2023—the weekend after the popular Killington World Cup in central Vermont.
The two ski resorts are just under five hours apart, giving dedicated North American ski racing fans the opportunity to travel from one World Cup event to the next, much like the Europeans do.
The athletes are excited about the back-to-back North American races, too.
“Having two women’s events in North American will help to give our sport more exposure and inspire more young female athletes to pursue careers in ski racing,” said Paula Moltzan, who has had a couple of her best World Cup performances at Killington. “Seeing World Cup events live verses on the TV gives young athletes a taste for what elite level skiing looks and feels like.”
The races will run front-and-center on Mont Tremblant’s renowned Flying Mile trail, rated double black at the top. In previous years, the Flying Mile was home to World Cup moguls events.
“It will test the skiers’ abilities and provide fans and athletes with a wonderful finish at the base of the mountain in the beautiful Mont Tremblant village,” said Alpine Canada spokesperson Mark Halliday.
Organizers at Mont Tremblant have worked to bring the Flying Mile up to World Cup alpine standards (a condition required for final FIS approval). The work is almost complete, said Halliday, and will be ready for skiers when the resort opens for the 2022-2023 season.
On Feb. 27-March 2, 2023, Mont Tremblant will host a test event on the Flying Mile: two men’s NorAm slaloms and two GS races. The Mont Tremblant World Cup should receive final approval after this test event is deemed successful.
While the Canadian women’s ski team has been stronger in slalom than giant slalom in recent years, a home race could change that.
“Every time I see athletes from other countries race at home, when it’s their home hill or really close, it just seems so amazing,” racer Valérie Grenier recently told the Canadian press. “You can tell it means a lot to them and the fans. Now the fact that I’m going to actually experience that, it’s just mind-blowing for me.”
Grenier ranked 13th in World Cup GS last season and was the only Canadian woman in the top 30. She has twice finished fourth in World Cup races, and Tremblant is Grenier’s home mountain.
Assuming the deal is inked following the test event in early March, Mont Tremblant will sign on to host the new women’s GS events for the next three years.
The only downside to a Mont Tremblant World Cup?
Women’s speed events will likely not be held at Lake Louise in 2023 (and unfortunately, those races will not be moved to Tremblant as it does not have enough terrain for a World Cup downhill or super-G).
But it’s not a death knell for Lake Louise, which has hosted World Cup speed races since 1980.
“With our plans for a women’s tech event in the East now firming up, we look forward to finalizing our long-term strategy for a World Cup men’s speed event in the West,” Therese Brisson, Alpine Canada’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “We are fortunate in that there are several resorts in Canada, including Lake Louise, who are keen to host alpine World Cup events, and we are working with them to develop the right long-term strategy in partnership with FIS for next season and beyond.”
In other World Cup news, FIS rescheduled the Sölden women’s GS, which was supposed to kick off the women’s World Cup season on Oct. 22 but was canceled due to weather, to Semmering, Austria, during Christmas week. The Austrian resort is already on the women’s World Cup schedule, with a GS on Dec. 28 and a slalom on Dec. 29, so the rescheduled GS will be held leading up to that weekend on Dec. 27.