Mark's letter was originally published in The Aspen Times.
After taking some time to reflect on last week, there are a few people that I'd like to thank.
First and foremost, thank you to Aspen Skiing Co. for making the Audi FIS World Cup Finals such a spectacular event. Between the well-executed races, the lively viewing area and VIP tent and the always-happening World Cup Village in Wagner Park, you did a phenomenal job creating an experience that racers, spectators and volunteers alike will not soon forget. It was particularly fun to watch the event through the eyes of our athletes — as a young racer, there's nothing like seeing Mikaela Shiffrin, Marcel Hirscher, and company train on our training venue at Aspen Highlands and then perform in front of our hometown crowd on Ajax! I know that you have been deep in the throes of planning this event ever since you were notified that you won the bid years ago. All your planning was well worth it — congratulations on continuing Aspen's strong legacy of ski racing!
I also want to thank the volunteers that worked day in and day out to make this event happen. One of the things that sets Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club apart from other ski clubs for me is the depth of the community here. Events like the World Cup Finals make the strength and enthusiasm of this community impossible to ignore! Thank you to everyone who opened their homes to course workers, who took time off work to welcome visitors to our town, who woke before the sun and stayed up late making this experience incredible for all involved. When AVSC started 80 years ago, it was entirely volunteer run. Weeks like last week make it incredibly evident that the volunteer spirit around ski racing is alive and well in Aspen.
Finally, I want to thank the AVSC staff. Since fall, many of the alpine coaches have spent time on Ruthies and Aztec getting the safety nets ready for these races. Pat Callahan, chief of course, has been working for months to prepare for an event of this magnitude. Many of our coaches spent the entirety of last week waking up early, helping set the courses, making sure the snow conditions were the best they could be, adjusting gates, leading slip crews and more. Alpine program director Johno McBride single-handedly threw 2,000 pounds of salt on the men's slalom course to keep the track as firm as possible for the racers. I am proud to work alongside some of the best of the business in ski racing — thank you for all that you continue to put into your work, not just for our athletes, but for every athlete you encounter.
Cheers to a successful week, and thanks again to Aspen Skiing Company for making it all happen.