The most populous city of Pitkin County, Colorado first became a major venue in 1939 when the Southern Rocky Championships were held on the slopes of Ajax, as the locals call Aspen Mountain.
A decade of national championships provided essential organizational experience whereby the resort would be considered and adjudged as the venue to host the first World Championships outside Europe, in 1950. The Italian Zeno Como dominated the men's events, picking up two gold medals, emulated by Dagmar Rom in the women's.
It seemed a simple logical progression to host World Cup events once the tournament was inaugurated in season 1966/67 and so it was the following year that the globe's finest skiers descended on a tourist resort increasingly populated by the wealthy and famous. Winternational, the week-long pageant to celebrate the World Cup's white carnival added to the prestige.
Over two days from March 15th 1968, Aspen hosted three events each for men and women. Canada's Nancy Green took the accolades by winning all three women's races: the slalom, the giant slalom and the downhill and ended the season as overall World Cup champion . For the men, the downhill debut was clinched by Gergard Nenning from Austria.
However, the overall winner of the male competition was the US's own Bill Kidd, racing to success in the slalom and third place in the downhill. The World Cup returned in 1976 with Ingemar Stenmark the name that drew the crowds. Skiing on the Aspen Highlands' Thunderbowl, the Swede's powerful yet silky style proved too much for his opponents; his first place in the slalom rewarding him with the overall World Cup title.
Franz Klammer's scientific breakthrough to use skis pre-frozen in a refrigerator and transported to the slopes by helicopter allowed him to claim success in the downhill and by consequence the Roch Cup, traditionally awarded since 1946 for the combined winner in the slalom and downhill. Thinking the prestigious trophy was his for keeps, the Austrian wrapped it up and took it home. It required a year's arduous search before the Aspen Historical Society retrieved it.
An all-women's event was first held in 1998. Poor light rendered the already challenging run even trickier resulting in only 15 competitors from the large international field to successfully negotiate both races. Overall winner, Anita Wachter was awarded the Bingham Cup's the female equivalent of the Roch Cup which had lain dormant for over a decade.
To celebrate 40 years of World Cup competition in the Rockies, the downhill returned after a 20-year absence in 2008 and although Julia Mancuso and Lindsay Vonn were among the home favorites to win, the US skiers had to step aside for Canada's Britt Janyk as the world' best skiers turned on the style once again to deserve their firework display send-off.