The world’s top women alpine ski racers will test their skills on a slope familiar to many Northern Californians as World Cup skiing returns to Squaw Valley for the first time in nearly 50 years.
With prerace festivities set to begin Thursday and racing kicking off Friday, here is a rundown of what you need to know.
Shaun White won’t be there
The Winter Olympics include a mix of traditional alpine events and the newfangled sports like snowboard halfpipe. FIS World Cup does not. Competitors race to achieve the best times in four disciplines: slalom, giant slalom, super G and downhill. A men’s and women’s champion is crowned at the end of each season. This weekend’s competition features the top women in the world, including Squaw Valley’s Julia Mancuso and fellow American Mikaela Shiffrin who is ranked No. 1 on the tour.
All the fun isn’t on the hill
You don’t have to be an expert skier to enjoy World Cup skiing. The weekend of events includes a kickoff parade, performance art from David Garibaldi, concerts, fireworks and poster signings. All the action in the village is free. Spectators can also walk to watch the competitors finish racing the Red Dog run or use a lift ticket to ski to a higher vantage point. Grandstand tickets are sold out.
Hard snow required for racing
Ski bums crave fluffy powder skiing. World cup racers crave hard-packed snow that survives multiple runs without huge ruts being formed. Heavy grooming equipment is used at the start of the process, but making the slope race-ready requires hand-grooming and adding water to harden the course.
Big Dog rides again
The legendary Red Dog will be the race course for both the giant slalom competition and the slalom. Red Dog also hosted Olympic racing in 1960 and World Cup racing in 1969.
Truly an international event
Unlike some sporting events that are all hat and no cattle when it come to truly crowning the world best talent, FIS World Cup Skiing brings together the best racers in the world. Athletes from 19 countries are competing this weekend. This is the first time the event has been held in Northern California since 1969.