Solitude Mountain Resort set to host Toyota Grand Prix
Conditions have been nearly perfect for course building
It’s not uncommon for World Cups, or events similar to them, to make stops in Park City since it’s one of the few places in America worthy of holding such an event.
But when the 2017 Toyota U.S. Grand Prix/FIS Snowboard World Cup and FIS Skicross NorAm Cup makes it way to Utah this weekend (Jan. 19-22), it won’t be in Park City. Instead, the events will be hosted by Solitude Mountain Resort, a member of the Deer Valley family.
“Being able to bring something of this caliber to Solitude is incredible,” Deer Valley Senior Communications Manager Emily Summers said. “It puts Solitude on the international scale.”
Summers said the stop in Big Cottonwood canyon is “by far the biggest type of event to ever happen at Solitude.”
“We’re really excited to show it off,” she added.
The event will feature skicross, snowboardcross and team snowboardcross races throughout the weekend on a course near the Solitude Village.
While Solitude maintains the runs and continues to make the snow regardless, the course the competitors will be racing on is made specifically for these races. It will contain seven turns or direction changes, will be 1,290 meters in running length, 170 meters in vertical drop and will have 12 jumping features.
The challenging course is sure to be in pristine condition thanks to a healthy amount of recent snow and a team full of experienced course builders.
“Our course builders that are working on this build these courses all over the world,” Summers said. “With the amount of snow that we have seen this year, they can pretty much make this course however they want. They’re really excited, too, because they kind of have no limit. They have all the material they need, which is really cool that we’re having such a great snow year for them to do that.”
The course is built adjacent to the Apex Express lift on the Wall Street and Main Street runs, right outside of the Village.
One reason that Solitude is hosting the event is to test for the result. In 2014, USSA, in partnership with Park City, was named the destination for the 2019 World Championships for freestyle, freeskiing and snowboarding by the International Ski Federation.
Thanks to the growth of the sport in recent years, the opportunity to add a third venue (Park City Resort and Deer Valley Resort were already selected) to the future competition was presented. In order to do so, though, said resort would have to meet certain qualifications and have test events, which is something the other two resorts have already met and done.
One reason Summers believes the resort will flourish during this weekend’s events, as well as down the road, is because of the unique access it provides.
“People from Salt Lake can get up there really easy,” she said. “In terms of being able to view the course, they can be hard for spectators to see because they run a whole side of the mountain. Whether you’re skiing or snowboarding or watching from the Village, it’s a really spectator-friendly course.”
One area that might cause trouble throughout the weekend is Solitude’s limited parking. Thanks to the already-in-place ski shuttle UTA runs up and down the canyon, though, spectators can still gain access to the event without having to spend time looking for an open parking spot.
“We’re strongly recommending UTA usage of the transit ski bus,” Summers said. “They run 15-minute frequencies. All of the events taking place at Solitude are also during the day during regular ski hours.”
The first races of the weekend — men’s and women’s snowboardcross qualifiers — will be held on Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to noon for the men. After a near two-hour break, the women will compete from 1:45 – 3 p.m.
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