• Friday: Women’s super combined; men’s super-G
• Saturday: Women’s super-G; men’s super combined
• Sunday: Women’s giant slalom; men’s slalom
• Monday: Women’s giant slalom; men’s slalom
• Tuesday: Women’s slalom; men’s giant slalom
• Wednesday: Women’s slalom; men’s giant slalom
Note: Racing will start between 9 and 10 a.m. each day on the Skookum/Tumwater runs, depending on weather conditions, and wrap up by early afternoon. Exact start times will be decided by race officials the evening before. For more: mrst.com
— Steve Maher, World sports editor
WENATCHEE — It didn’t take long for Mission Ridge to re-establish itself as a great place to race for the best skiers around.
A year after the Ridge hosted the Western Region Elite FIS Spring Series after a three-decade absence, the ski races return for a six-day encore, beginning Friday.
About 280 of the nation’s best skiers have registered for the event. A year ago, about 230 competed in the spring series.
“Nationally, we were an unknown quantity last year,” said Ryan Shorter, Mission Ridge Ski Team program director. “Now the skiers know we are good. There’s more interest in it because we they know it’s a great place to race.
“We’ll have a lot of the top racers again this year, probably 10 to 12 of the U.S. national ski team members,” Shorter said.
The field will include Mission Ridge’s own Colby Granstrom and Brooke Wales, who are winding down impressive seasons, and U.S. Olympian Sarah Schleper.
Granstrom, 20, was a top-two slalom finisher in the final Nor-Am Cup standings, a performance that guarantees him a spot in next year’s World Cup tour. This past Sunday, Granstrom won his first national title when he took Sunday’s slalom event at the U.S. championships in Winter Park, Colo.
“I’m not surprised but I’m particularly pleased,” Shorter said of Granstrom. “He’s always had the will to win. … He certainly is progressing nicely.”
Wales, 20, also has secured a spot in next year’s World Cup tour with a top-two Nor-Am finish in the super-G. She won her first Nor-Am race in Aspen, Colo., in February.
Ski conditions are expected to be much better than last year’s event when heavy snow and wind gusts as high as 90 mph canceled the first day’s races and forced organizers to cram all the races into the final five days.
The races this week and next will take place on the Skookum and Tumwater runs.
“The first two days are supposed to be sunny, and we have an excellent surface right now,” Shorter said.
At this past weekend’s Northwest Cup Finals held at the Ridge, “it was the best racing surface I’ve seen anywhere this year,” Shorter said.
Skiers and their coaches began arriving in town on Monday. Shorter said Mission Ridge, which outbid Mammoth Mountain in California for the race series, estimates the economic impact to the community from the week-long event (Thursday is registration day) at about $500,000.
Stephen Maher: 664-7154