Snowmass to host U.S. Grand Prix prior to 2018 Olympics; Mammoth Mountain to host final leg | SierraSun.com

Snowmass to host U.S. Grand Prix prior to 2018 Olympics; Mammoth Mountain to host final leg

Erica Robbie
erobbie@aspentimes.com

Eric Willett of Summit County, Colo., competes in the men's snowboard slopestyle event during the 2017 Winter X Games in Aspen. Willett could be among those competing in an Olympic qualifier in Snowmass this winter.

For the first time in 20 years, Snowmass will be a stop on Olympic hopefuls’ road to the PyeongChang Games.

Snowmass Village, which celebrates the 50-year anniversary of its ski resort this winter, will host five Olympic-qualifying events via the U.S. Grand Prix from Jan. 10 to 14, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association announced Wednesday.

“It’s right at there with the big events,” Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle said. “We’ve got X Games, World Cup races, Word Cup events, and to have a Grand Prix and have it right before the Olympics is a big deal.”

Prior to its Snowmass tour, the Grand Prix will stop at Copper Mountain and Breckenridge. After Snowmass, Mammoth Mountain, California, will host the final leg of the Olympic-qualifier series.

See sidebar below for a complete schedule of events and competitions for the U.S. Grand Prix.

USSSA will announce the Olympic teams for all sports after the competitions in Mammoth.

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“Copper and Mammoth have been Grand Prix resort partners for over 10 years and continually go above and beyond to put on these events for the athletes,” U.S. Grand Prix director Nick Alexakos said in a statement. “With Snowmass returning to the tour, we have three world-class resorts setting the stage for another exciting Olympic-qualifying season.”

The last time Snowmass Ski Area was home to an Olympic qualifying event was 1998, with one of the first snowboard halfpipe Olympic qualifiers and a snowboard big-air exhibition.

The Winter X Games in Aspen are slated for Jan. 25 to 28; the Olympics in South Korea start Feb. 9.

“With an Olympic year, there’s an extra degree of excitement around this and more eyeballs around the world,” Hanle said. “We’re excited to be able to host this.”