World championship event aimed at revitalizing pro skiing

Updated: December 11, 2019, 10:06 PM ET
Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Efforts to revitalize traditional professional alpine ski racing are culminating in a network-televised world championship event planned for April 2020 at Taos Ski Valley in northern New Mexico , organizers said Wednesday.

World Pro Ski Tour CEO Jon Franklin announced the single-elimination, head-to-head competition with a $100,000 purse and competitors including U.S. Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety.

Invoking the 1980s and 1990s heydey of professional downhill skiing and names such as Phil and Steve Mahre, Franklin said three days of racing will be open to pro tour members, former amateur world champions and Olympic medalists.

"We like our style racing better than World Cup racing because whoever crosses the finish line first wins the race and we can see it," he said. Qualifying runs will fill a 32-skier bracket. Race formats include giant slalom and "super slalom."

He said the event will be televised nationally by CBS Sports Network in a one-hour format, streamed live over FloSports and come with its own reality television component about to lives of skiers for distribution by Outside TV.

The U.S.-based World Pro Ski Tour was revived in 2017, and the April race is the first championship-style event since then.

Franklin made the announcement alongside New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, state tourism and ski industry officials, and Taos Ski Valley CEO David Norden.

The ski mountain on U.S. Forest Service land outside the town of Taos has been transformed by new investments in amenities -- including a high-altitude lift accessing steep chutes at Kachina Peak -- since its sale about six years ago by the founding Blake family to financier and conservationist Louis Bacon.

The terrain for the race course in April has not yet been selected.

Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press

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