Ganong in Aspen for final U.S. World Cup races before retirement

American ski racer Travis Ganong talks to people after an autograph session and panel discussion with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, at the AVSC clubhouse.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Travis Ganong is ready to chuck his ski boots. He’s earned the right after more than a decade of racing around the world.

“I’m going to throw my race boots away and get some comfy touring boots,” he said. “Then I’m going to go ski a lot of powder for the rest of my life. Ski racing has been an amazing sport. It’s so much fun. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your life and it will teach you so many valuable lessons.”

Ganong, the 34-year-old out of California’s Palisades Tahoe, plans to retire after this season, making this weekend’s Aspen World Cup his penultimate stop and final on U.S. snow. The other is the season-ending World Cup finals in Andorra.

He joined his American speed teammates for an autograph session and panel discussion at the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club on Tuesday, and openly talked about his season and pending retirement.

“I went into the year knowing this would be my last year racing on the World Cup, after 13 years and almost 200 starts,” Ganong said. “It’s been really cool to go to all the venues one last time with the mentality it was going to be my last chance. So I’ve had time to process it and say goodbye to some of these legendary downhill tracks and enjoy it one last time.”

Ganong made his World Cup debut in 2009, a DNF in a downhill at Lake Louise. Entering this weekend, he has tallied 187 career World Cup starts, six podiums and two wins. Both of his victories came in downhill, one in 2014 (Santa Caterina, Italy) and another in 2017 (Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany).

But ask him and he may say his best result came as recently as the Jan. 21 Austrian downhill at the iconic Kitzbuhel. Ganong finished third behind France’s Johan Clarey and Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who won.

Ganong’s resume also includes winning silver in the 2015 world championship downhill at Beaver Creek and four career Olympic starts (two in 2014, two in 2022). His best Olympic result was fifth in the 2014 downhill in Sochi.

“I know after this year I’ll probably never ski downhill again, but at the same time, knowing that this was my last chance made me push a little harder a few times this year. Back in August, my only goal for the season was to compete well in Kitzbuhel,” he said. “Normally we have these big dream goals and they rarely come true. But for me this year, I got that podium, so it was amazing to live that dream.”

Travis Ganong speeds down the course during a men’s World Cup downhill race Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Kitzbuehel, Austria. He finished third to make the podium.
Marco Trovati/AP

Ganong had been scheduled to take part in the first of two downhill training runs on Wednesday ahead of Friday’s race on Aspen Mountain, but fresh snow on course that morning led FIS to cancel the training. They will try again on Thursday with the second training run.

The first men’s downhill at the Aspen World Cup is scheduled for Friday, followed by a second downhill on Saturday and a super-G on Sunday.

This is the first time a World Cup has been held in Aspen since the 2017 finals. Most spectating is free from the base of the course on the Shadow Mountain side (looker’s right) of Ajax.

“I’m going to stay really involved in skiing and go down a different path, transition into more of a freeskiing career. That’s kind of what my passion has been my whole life growing up,” Ganong hinted about his near future. “I’m excited for the next chapter, but I’m also excited to ski in Aspen this week. It will be really fun.”

His American teammate, Utah’s Steven Nyman, also recently announced his retirement and plans to take a ceremonial final run down Aspen Mountain on Saturday.

Opening ceremony festivities begin Thursday evening at Snowmass Base Village. Events include the U.S. ski team introductions at 6 p.m., bib draw at 6:15 p.m., a community parade at 6:30 p.m., and a torchlight and ski parade, with fireworks, at 7 p.m. Aspen’s own DJ Naka G will start the party at 4 p.m.