The FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup has brought its act to North America in its usual “placate the U.S. and Canadian teams” swing before it returns to Europe for the remainder of the season. This weekend, there will be races in Lake Louise, Alberta, and Aspen, Colorado, with races next weekend at Lake Louise and at Beaver Creek, Colorado.

After that, the “White Circus” is slated to return to Europe for races in Val d’Isere, France – except for the fact that most of the ski resorts in Europe are lacking snow and cold weather, which usually means cancelled races.

Enter Atle Skaardal, director of the FIS Womens Alpine World Cup, who suggests that North American resorts pick up the races from the Europeans. It’s not an unprecedented move, and it’s part of the reason that the early season World Cup races are now held in North America. Skaardal says that he has asked Aspen, Beaver Creek and Vail to host replacement races for European venues that lack sufficient snow to host events in December.

Until 2003, the first of these races was held in Park City, Utah. “America’s Opening” was always a big hit with ski racing fans: they could see their heroes at a fan-friendly venue that almost always had snow for the occasion (what didn’t fall from the skies could easily be fired out of hoses). The Eagle Race Arena eventually hosted the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, so enamored was the FIS with the quality of the events held at Park City. And these events were viewed by millions of TV viewers in Europe and Asia, a perfect PR video postcard for the Utah Ski Association.

But in 2003, Park City said it was done with the World Cup hosting gig. They cited too much difficulty and cost to the resort, as course prep diverted their snowmaking crews from runs that paying customers could use (the Eagle runs are off-limits to the public at all times), and large crews of paid and volunteer staff were needed to run the event.

Another Utah Olympic venue, Snowbasin, decommissioned its World Cup race runs after the 2002 events, citing costs and liability issues.

So the FIS moved on, consolidating its North American events to Lake Louise, Beaver Creek, Vail and Aspen. On occasion, the FIS will hold events in Mammoth, California, and the 2010 Olympic slopes at Whistler, British Columbia.

So Utah will miss out on the potential PR bounty from hosting replacement events on this year’s World Cup. To me, a former racer who grew up racing in Utah, it’s a sad turn of events, and I hope that Park City reconsiders its decision and hosts some Cup events once more.