Skicross pro tour at Squaw this weekend
THE NEXT STOP for the world’s top athletes will be the upcoming Jeep King of the Mountain competition on Feb. 8-11 at Squaw Valley USA, Calif., part of wintertime’s largest sports and entertainment event, 48Straight. There, a slew of X Games champions, world champions, national champions and the top-ranked FIS contenders will be battling head to head for a share of the $250,000 purse and the keys to a new Jeep.
In men’s skiing, the pressure will be on Sweden’s Lars Lewen to defend the surprise title earned in Telluride, where the two-time X Games gold medalist outlasted a field of the most accomplished racers in the sport. Chasing him will be Daron Rahlves of Truckee, Calif., one of the most decorated male downhill and super G skiers in American history who finished second in the first race of the season and most recently earned gold at the X Games. Others vying for the crown include the world’s No. 1 ranked Tomas Kraus of the Czech Republic; and No. 3 ranked Casey Puckett of Aspen, Colo., a four-time Olympian.
No other athlete can match the skicross dominance of France’s Ophelie David, who ranks No. 1 in the world, just earned gold at the X Games, and has never lost a Jeep King of the Mountain event dating back to 2005. There will be no shortage of racers trying to break her streak, including No. 2 ranked Meryll Boulangeat of France, a bronze medalist at the 2007 X Games; Jenny Owens of Australia, ranked No. 4; Magdalena Jonsson of Sweden, a six-time World Cup titlist and this year’s X Games bronze medalist; and X Games silver medalist Valentine Scuotto of France.
In snowboardcross, racers signed on to challenge Shaun Palmer, the five-time snowboarding world champion, X Games skiing champion, mountain biking world champion and super-cross motorcycle racer. Headlining the list include hometown racer Nate Holland, who just achieved an unprecedented three-peat at the 2008 X Games. In women’s snowboarding, Olympic silver medalist Lindsey Jacobellis of Stratton Mountain, Vt., will attempt to maintain the torrid pace that has helped earn her last year’s Jeep King of the Mountain championship and a gold medal at this year’s X Games.
The ski halfpipe field will feature the world’s No. 1 ranked Matthew Hayward of Canada, No. 2 ranked Kevin Rolland of France and No. 3 ranked Justin Dorey of Canada, among others, trying to unseat Simon Dumont, an X Games gold medalist and last season’s Ski Tour champion. On the women’s side, the line-up includes tremendous talent, led by three of the four top ranked athletes in the world, including No. 1 ranked Sarah Burke of Canada, No. 2 ranked Jennifer Hudak of Park City, Utah, and No. 4 rankes Rosalind Groenewoud of Canada. The snowboard halfpipe competition will be equally as deep, led by two-time Olympic gold medal winner Ross Powers and U.S. Snowboard Halfpipe team members Broc Waring of Edwards, Colo., and Matthew Ladley of Steamboat Springs, Colo. The women’s side will also feature a tough American field, with U.S. Snowboard Halfpipe teammates Clair Bidez, Ellery Hollingsworth, Lizzy Beerman and Kaitlyn Farrington paving the way.
Billed as the “Loudest Show on Snow,” 48STRAIGHT is a jam-packed weekend of on-snow and off-snow activities designed to celebrate the mountain culture. In addition to the Jeep King of the Mountain races, the event will include a ski and snowboard halfpipe competition, a dozen live concerts, street parties, fashion shows and environmental expos. The event emerged from the 2007 consolidation of the Jeep King of the Mountain Series, one of the most renowned professional race programs over the past 15 years and The Ski Tour, an event which in its first year combined the highest level of racing with unmatched musical offerings.
Coverage of the action from Squaw Valley will be televised to a national broadcast audience on Feb. 23 and 24 on CBS Sports and on nationally syndicated television beginning Feb. 23. Check local listings for specific airdates and times.
The Jeep King of the Mountain and 48Straight winter season will conclude on March 14-16 at Sun Valley, Idaho.