Two new domestic events highlight US Ski and Snowboard’s upcoming season
A new season always brings new expectations for U.S. Ski and Snowboard, but those of this year are vastly different from those of recent.
With no World Championships, Olympics or Olympic qualifying taking place, this season is all about perfecting the athletes’ craft along with the unique chance to show off big air competition to the South.while showcasing certain disciplines to parts of the country that may be unfamiliar with them.
“We’ve really taken it upon ourselves to try and bring new events domestically that aren’t typically here,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard spokesman Tom Horrocks. “I think part of this season is really trying to give people throughout different parts of the country the opportunity to see some of the best athletes in the world compete. With the Olympics being two years away, this is the perfect time to pique that interest and capitalize on it.”
U.S. Ski and Snowboard has done just that with the addition of two major domestic events this upcoming season.
The Visa Big Air presented by Land Rover is set to take place on Dec. 20 and 21 at SunTrust Park in Atlanta, home of Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves. This is the first internationally sanctioned ski and snowboard event to ever take place in the Southeast, and is part of a larger initiative.
“This is easily the pinnacle of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard events this year, with not only being sanctioned but giving our athletes the opportunity to perform in their home country,” said Andrew Gauthier, another U.S. Ski and Snowboard spokesman. “This is going to have the sort of representation with the athletes attending that will give it a World Championship or Olympics type of feel. … We are hoping for those types of crowds.” This is truly a worldwide event, and it’s being treated as such, so big things are expected for us to prove that these sort of events can attract any type of person.”
Some big name athletes who are expected to be participating include snowboard stars Chris Corning, Red Gerard and Jamie Anderson. For skiing, the competition list is distinguished with Alex Hall, Mac Forehand and Maggie Voisin all taking part.
Corning is a six-time Crystal Globe winner and the 2019 FIS World Champion, Gerard is the Olympic slopestyle gold medalist who also won the U.S. Open gold medal with the grand prix win in Mammoth to close out last season, while Anderson is a two-time Olympic slopestyle medalist and big air Olympic silver medalist.
Hall has won back-to-back X Games gold medals in Aspen’s slopestyle and Norway big air, Forehand won the FIS overall slopestyle championship, while Voisin is coming off an ACL injury with big expectations for the upcoming season.“Atlanta already has a track record of athletic success from the Braves, to the Falcons and Atlanta United,” Gauthier said. “The competitive spirit is more than alive after the success of the 1996 Olympics, so we are hoping that not just U.S. Ski and Snowboard, but the world’s best athletes are embraced ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics.”
With big air taken care of, U.S. Ski and Snowboard is also hosting a Coop FIS Cross Country World Cup race for the first time in two decades. The Coop is widely considered the preeminent cross country skiing world tour by U.S. standards.
This year, the fastest cross country skiers in the world will descend upon Minneapolis for the World Cup Sprint Finals on March 17 in Theodore Wirth Park. This is the final event on the tour for skiers to race for the coveted Crystal Globe.
“Jesse Diggins has really been the driving force behind this event with this taking part in her home area,” Horrocks said. “This was the perfect date to host because it’s sandwiched between the World Cup finals in Quebec City and the distance finals in Alberta. It’s just a perfect fit and a perfect location that is going to huge for our organization.”
Apart from wanting to bring a world cup to the State, Horrocks said location was a huge concern for U.S. Ski and Snowboard and Minnesota was ideal.
“Nordic skiing is such a huge part of the every day activities from Minnesota to Michigan and Wisconsin,” Horrocks said. “We wanted this event in Minnesota to hopefully do for cross country racing what Alpine racing in Killington has done for other parts of the country.”
With the odd season up ahead, U.S. Ski and Snowboard has used it as a way to bring more awareness to its disciplines here in the states ahead of the 2022 winter Olympics.
“We are always trying to think of new ways to gain interest for our sport, and bringing two massive events to the states is big for us,” Horrocks said. “These events allow our athletes to shine at home, get to experience what European athletes feel like every weekend during these competitions. It gives them the chance to shine.”
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.