Huntsman Cup to hit the hill |

Huntsman Cup to hit the hill

The new year will begin in a big way on the slopes with the Huntsman Cup disabled ski races hosted by the National Ability Center (NAC).

The event, which will be held at Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) Jan. 5-7, is the second major disabled ski competition of the season following the opening races in Breckenridge, Colo. It also serves as one of the qualifiers to make the U.S. Disabled Ski Team.

There will be both slalom and giant slalom races each morning and afternoon and the skiers will use monoskis, outriggers and other adapted equipment for sit ski, mono ski and visually impaired ski races.

According to NAC Outreach Coordinator Jessica Kunzer, the race will welcome about 100 racers of all ages and many international teams. Members of the Canadian and Australian national teams will be in attendance as well as many U.S. racers. Kunzer says that many of the Park City Disabled Ski Team skiers will be competing, including Paralympians and those aspiring to join the elite one day.

U.S. Disabled Ski Team head coach Marcel Kuonen says that a number of top skiers will headline the competition. His wife, Paralympic gold medalist Stephani Victor, who won in the opening races in Breckenridge, is threatening to win the mono-ski slalom competition once again. Silver medalist mono-skier Chris Devlin-Young should also fare well. PCDST member Erik Bayindirli, a T-12 paraplegic who competed in the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in Turin, will headline the Park City contingent. Greg Shaw, the 16 year old who moved from Florida to Park City to monoski, will also be one the top local entries.

"When there is a full field, the point setting is lower," explained Kuonen. "So, younger athletes can make better points."

The races will take place at the site of the 2002 Paralympics on the C.B.’s and Picabo’s runs at PCMR. Kunzer hopes that locals will gather to watch the free events each day. The races were moved from their normal mid-week time to the weekend to allow more racers to attend and generate a larger crowd of spectators.

"We highly encourage people to come," Kunzer said.

The Huntsman Cup is an International Ski Federation (FIS) race, as well as a NORAM, so points will be awarded that will count towards the Disabled World Cup, the U.S. Disabled National Championships and as part of the selection process for the U.S. Disabled Ski Team.

The event will also include the first-ever Chris Waddell Training Camp, Jan 3-4, a special disabled ski camp held by Park City’s own Paralympic legend. The two-day camp will feature rigorous training on the slopes led by the four-time Paralympic and five-time gold medallist, along with a professional coaching staff.

The Huntsman Cup will be held Jan 5-7 at PCMR. Friday and Saturday will feature giant slalom races and the slalom races will be held on Sunday. Races will be held daily at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Admission is free and spectators are encouraged to attend. For more information on the Huntsman Cup or the Chris Waddell Training Camp, contact the National Ability Center at 649-3991 or visit .

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