FIS photo

In order to be the fastest on the track, you also have to be the sleekest. Here, fractions of seconds matter, so being aerodynamic in your get-up is key. Strength and form will be the foundations that are the make or break for a racer being able to hold that edge versus sliding out, or sticking the landing versus wiping out.

It’s the kind of old-world race with a European flair that makes one want to bust out a proper onesie, even to wear from the sidelines. It’s a polished affair that’s now interchangeably associated with the International Ski Federation (FIS), but the World Cup comes from humble beginnings—from the collective imagination of a few journalists. “Those three were: Michel Clare of L'Equipe, the famous French sports paper; John Fry, the editor-in-chief of Ski Magazine in New York; and Austria's Kurt Bernegger, a reporter for Salzburger Nachrichten, later with Austrian television and to my mind the most far-sighted commentator of that era,” wrote Serge Lang, the dean of Europe’s ski writers who initiated the first World Cup, and translated posthumously from his original French. 

Of course, no great event can happen without a sponsor. Lang’s recollection is a charming one. “I've found a client who wants to spend a quarter of a million to link his logo with skiing and snow—it's Evian mineral water,” he remembers being told. “You get the picture—drink Evian and feel like you're in the French Alps. Set up a challenge with a ranking over a number of races… See you at Bordeaux.” (Read the full first-person account at 

And so it was that by 1967, Lang—alongside U.S. Ski Team director and Aspenite Bob Beattie, along with French Ski Team director Honore Bonnet—had launched the FIS World Cup circuit. Roughly 15,000 people attended the event in West Germany, where athletes received their Evian trophies. It didn’t take long for Aspen tap to become the drink of choice; in 1968, Aspen hosted its first official World Cup race, kicking off a decades-long tradition. It culminated in 2017, the same year commemorating the 50th anniversary of the World Cup ski-racing circuit, when Mikaela Shiffrin won her fourth slalom title and became the first American to ever win the cove-ted Overall Crystal Globe on American soil. 

That was the last World Cup event in Aspen, as FIS leadership at the time thought that Aspen needed to improve its base-village experience and improve its Lift 1A. But opportunity came unexpectedly knocking in 2022. By May, U.S. Ski & Snowboard made an almost-surprise announcement that the World Cup would be returning to Aspen, and the Aspen Skiing Co. has been working fervently to gear up to host America’s Downhill, a men’s event sporting Super-G and Downhill races, ever since. It’s clear the new leadership agrees with the local bias: There’s no better venue than Aspen Mountain, which will boast a “steep, corkscrewing technical track,” as described on the Aspen-Snowmass website.  

Of course, the plan is to celebrate the return of the flagship event as only Aspen can, with long-term local and short-term global residents mingling at free outdoor concerts and ceremonies. And, of course, on the slopes—maybe rocking a onesie.

 2023 Alpine World Cup, March 3-5.