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Snowboarders descend on PC

by Jen Watkins, Of the Record staff

Snowboard Olympic hopefuls will have two more chances to qualify for the U.S. team at the Sprint U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix at Park City Mountain Resort Jan. 22-23. It’s the final stop for snowboarders who will compete in the remaining two of five halfpipe qualifiers.

About 18 men and nine women will compete for the remaining six spots – three spots each for men and women – in a reduced field of athletes who scored the highest in previous tour stops.

Shaun White (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Kelly Clark (Mt. Snow, Vt.) are already locked in, said Lindsey Sine, public relations coordinator for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. White won two previous Grand Prix events, with Danny Davis (Detroit, Mich.) right on his heels. Davis has one Grand Prix win under his belt, but will not be competing this weekend after undergoing surgery on Monday for a back injury from an ATV accident in an area known as The Preserve just outside of Park City.

Six of the eight members of the Olympic team will be revealed on the second day of competition following the final award ceremony. Sine said the remaining two spots should be announced next week. Louie Vito (Sandy), Gretchen Bleiler (Aspen, Colo.) and Steve Fisher (Breckenridge, Colo.) are just a few the athletes who will be making their way to PCMR to try to secure those remaining spots.

A new requirement for the athletes this year is the 22-foot halfpipe, the standard size for the Olympics. Previously, the athletes competed on an 18-foot halfpipe, Sine said. Meisha Lawson, a spokesperson for Park City Mountain Resort, said the resort has had the 22-foot halfpipe "for a long time" and said this represents a change in the direction of the sport.

"We hosted the (2002) Olympics, and now we’re naming the Olympic team," Lawson said. "It just shows our commitment to snowboarding and our Olympic legacy."

Residents are invited to watch as athletes begin their training runs on Wednesday, Jan. 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again on Thursday, Jan. 21, from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. The first finals competition begins at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, with awards immediately following. On Saturday, Jan. 23, PCMR will host the Xbox Junior Jam from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The men’s and women’s superpipe finals will begin at 6:30 p.m. with awards immediately following.

Following Saturday’s awards ceremony, a free concert will be held in the parking lot at the base of the First Time lift. In true Sundance style, the stars will be out as 30 Seconds to Mars band members Jared Leto, Shannon Leto and Tomo Milicevic will perform for the crowd before the naming of the 2010 U.S. Olympic team.

At the conclusion of the Grand Prix events, the U.S Postal Service will announce a new commemorative stamp featuring an airborne snowboarder against a snowcapped mountain by illustrator Steve McCracken of Winchester, Va. All events are free to spectators and do not require a lift ticket. NBC will broadcast the event on Sunday, Jan. 24, from 1 to 2 p.m. MST.


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