Keepingwatch b04bcr

If you’ve never seen a World Cup Finals race before, you’re in for a treat. These men and women—the top athletes in their disciplines—have honed their techniques over a long, demanding season. Now, with everything on the line, they’ll be going all out in their quests for the crystal globes.

And it’ll go by fast. With only 26 racers per discipline, the technical races (slalom and giant slalom) will last just about a half-hour per run (with a total of two runs per competitor); the speed events (downhill and super-G) will take a little longer but only consist of one run per skier.

Here are three strategies on the best places to watch, from Aspen Mountain Manager Peter King:

1. If you’ve only got one day, head to the base of Lift 1A (a.k.a. the Shadow Mountain chair). With capacity for some 2,000 spectators, the grandstands there offer the best view of the finish line and the latter sections of most of the races—and you can see the entirety of the slalom and nations team courses from there. There’s also a Jumbotron that will broadcast the racers in action, the timing board, and the announcers’ stand in close listening proximity, not to mention the contagious energy of the crowd.

2. If you have more time, catch some of the racing from alongside the course (you will need a lift ticket for ski access). That’ll get you close enough to hear the thwack of slalom gates, the chatter of skis rounding a turn, and the airplane-like whoosh of a downhiller going by. Lift 1A will be closed to the public, so make your way over to Aspen Mountain’s west side via the gondola and the F.I.S. chair (a.k.a. Lift 6) and Ruthie’s chair.

3. Watch the start of the downhill and super-G on Ruthie’s Run, then ski down to key viewing points at the top of Roch Run; Lower Roch Run where it meets Spring Pitch to view the infamous “airplane turn” (as well as the GS start); and the top of Lower Corkscrew—one of the best viewing spots, says King—where large sections of the courses, including the finish, will be in view. From here, ski back to the gondola via Summer Road or continue to the bottom of Lift 1A, where you can take a shuttle back to Gondola Plaza.

FIS VIP

Leave it to Sentient Jet, the official private aviation partner of Aspen Snowmass, to offer the ultimate viewing experience. Overlooking final gates and finish arena in an elevated tent, guests will nosh on gourmet bites by former Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro chef Andreas Fischbacher, sip complimentary cocktails from the best seat on the mountain, and receive a limited edition commemorative World Cup Finals gift. $3,000 for one, five-day pass, aspensnowmass.com 

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