UOP welcomes back sliders for skeleton and bobsleigh competitions
Athletes head to Park City with Olympics around the corner
The sliding track at the Utah Olympic Park will be put to good use over the next couple weeks, as the North American Cup and Intercontinental Cup will be taking place at the venue. Park City also hosted the North American Cup last January, but it feels a little more special now with the Beijing Olympics just around the corner.
“I think it’s amazing that we’re having it,” said Kole Nordmann, marketing manager at UOP. “We did have an NAC last year under very strict COVID protocols, and it’s going to be kind of the same thing. But it’s always good to have these types of events leading up to an Olympic year especially.”
Training for the NAC skeleton races began on Thursday before competition days on Nov. 19 and Nov. 20. The ICC skeleton races will be on Nov. 23 and Nov. 24. In the bobsleigh portion of the NAC, the two-man race and the Women’s Monobob World Series will take place on Nov. 23 and Nov. 24, and the two-woman and four-man races will cap off the festivities on Nov. 28 and Nov. 29.
The events are open to spectators free of charge. Fans can watch from the lower loop of the track between turns 12 and 15.
Two weeks of sliding action will put the track’s newly upgraded surface to the test. Nordmann said that the park overhauled its refrigeration system, resulting in a better track.
“It’s actually one of the most state-of-the-art and advanced systems for ice-making in the entire world, and it’s been holding up really well in this training season that we’ve had so far,” he said. “Just rolling it out for this type of event that lasts over a week will be really good to see for us. It will be a really good test for the new system, and I think it’s going to perform great.”
Spectators will have the opportunity to see Olympic hopefuls in person as they prepare for Olympic qualification. That’s not limited to just American athletes, either.
“Just come out and watch some of these sliders that are trying to get on their national teams on the A squads,” Nordmann said. “Come out and watch some really good sliding. You’ll see a lot of athletes from a lot of different countries, which is really cool. The emerging nations are always a part of it, (like) the Jamaicas, so you can come out and watch some athletes that you may just see in the next Olympic cycle.”
Outside of the Women’s Monobob World Series, the Bobsleigh World Cup and the Skeleton World Cup don’t make any stops in North America this year, so this month’s events will be the rare opportunity for American sliders to compete in their home country this winter. For those who come to Park City to train, there’s plenty of familiarity.
“I know they also like sliding on this track,” Nordmann said. “It’s really considered the second-fastest track in the world, right behind Whistler, which is definitely the fastest track that these athletes will slide on. And I think they really do appreciate all of the work that goes into our ice conditions as well.”
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