U.S. Grand Prix returns to PCMR
Last year, the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Park City Mountain Resort was a showcase of the best slopestyle and halfpipe skiers the world had to offer, with the U.S. Freeskiing Olympic Team named at the end of the competition.
This year, though, snowboarders will be back in the mix, competing alongside the skiers in the Eagle Superpipe and on the King’s Crown slopestyle course.
Though conditions have not been ideal for most of the winter, PCMR Communications Manager Andy Miller said the slopestyle course and superpipe are looking good.
"The course is looking terrific," he said. "And we got the superpipe open three or four weeks ago and that’s holding up well. The crew has been working hard on that slopestyle course the past couple weeks."
He added that it’s good the competitions are later in the season this year. Last year, the Grand Prix was held in January due to Olympic implications.
"Fortunately, we had it a little bit later in the year than we have in years past," he said. "The later date certainly came in handy with making snow. We had the pipe open a few weeks ago and it was pretty clear then that we’d have enough snow to build the slopestyle course."
For fans of local athletes, the men’s slopestyle ski competition will be the one to watch, Miller said.
"In terms of locals in that event, we’ve got Tom Wallisch, McRae Williams, Alex Schlopy and Joss Christensen all competing," he said.
Joining that star-studded list are Olympians Bobby Brown and Gus Kenworthy. In the women’s slopestyle ski contest, Devin Logan and Keri Herman provide the star power.
For the men’s ski halfpipe competition, David Wise, Lyman Currier, Aaron Blunck, Torin Yater-Wallace and Alex Ferreira lead the way for the Americans against a strong international field that includes Kevin Rolland, Mike Riddle and Simon D’Artois.
In the women’s ski halfpipe competition, Maddie Bowman returns to defend her crown against Devin Logan and Brita Sigourney.
For the snowboarders, the halfpipe contest will feature many familiar names. For the men, X Games gold medalist Danny Davis and Olympic gold medalist Iouri Podladtchikov (I-Pod) will square off. For the women, Kelly Clark, Arielle Gold, Elena Hight and Hannah Teter form a star-studded group.
"For the men and women, across both disciplines, it’s a pretty deep field," Miller said. "It’s on par with what you’d expect to see at the X Games."
Miller said the resort can’t wait to showcase its famous park-and-pipe setup, which consistently receives top rankings from industry magazines.
"To be able to show off our hometown talent and what makes our park special to the world, it’s a real thrill," he said. "We’re always so thrilled when USSA wants to bring the Grand Prix back here."
And, he continued, having the snowboarders back this year will make it even more special.
"It’s bigger with the snowboarders coming back," he said. "The more, the merrier — it was so exciting when we had the freeskiing aspect a year ago, especially with the Olympic ramifications and [Olympic Team] naming ceremony, but snowboarding is a big thing when people think of our parks and pipe, so it’s nice to have them back."
Though it’s the U.S. Grand Prix, Miller said the resort is excited to have such a deep international field competing this weekend as well. He said it’s always more exciting for fans to see all the top athletes compete.
"That only adds to it," he said. "I think we’ve got 20 countries represented in this year’s field. The progression in these sports in America and right here in Park City is so great, but it’s awesome to add that international depth to make it a world-class event."
Finals begin on Friday, with the men’s and women’s snowboard slopestyle finals beginning at 9:30 a.m. The event ends on Sunday when the men’s and women’s snowboard halfpipe finals are contested.
Sprint U.S. Grand Prix Schedule
Friday, Feb. 27
9:30 a.m. — Snowboard slopestyle finals
1:15 p.m. — Ski slopestyle finals
Saturday, Feb. 28
12 p.m. — Ski halfpipe finals
Sunday, March 1
12 p.m. — Snowboard halfpipe finals
Steele DeWald has his life in Park City down to a routine. After some strange encounters in his 20s, he’s OK with the mundane.