X marks the spot | SierraSun.com

X marks the spot

Some of the most elite ski and snowboard racers from the Tahoe area and all over the continent will be on the slopes of Sugar Bowl this weekend trying to earn an invitation to the 2005 Winter X Games.As the one-and-only official qualifier for the 2005 Winter X Games, scheduled for Jan. 29 Feb. 1 in Aspen, Colo., the Jabra X-Jam at Sugar Bowl will send a total of 10 racers to the X Games in men’s and women’s skier and boarder disciplines. Races of speed, tactics and endurance, both skier X and boarder X feature four racers at a time running a course filled with tight S-curves, big jumps and numerous other man-made terrain features designed to weed out all but the best. Some contact is allowed between the racers as well, lending one more element of strategy and danger to the race.

Created by the Sugar Bowl terrain park crew and the event organizers at Global Event Management, this year’s course was described by James “Woody” Woodruff, CEO for GEM, as nothing less than “huge.””It’s long. It’s like the longest boarder cross and skier cross course in the world,” Woodruff said. “It’s going to be a test for sure because it’s going to be well over a minute [before racers finish]. There are some enormous features because Sugar Bowl has so much snow… We’re super psyched on it.”

Sugar Bowl’s Terrain Park Designer Jesse Collins agreed that the course is going to be challenging and fun. He should know, as he and his crew have spent many late nights recently making sure everything is laid out perfectly. The course, according to Collins, is “big, fast and fun. It’s a lot different from courses that have been done lately – a lot bigger. I think it’s going to be fun and pretty technical.”Collins and his crew spent a lot of time thinking about how the racers would flow through the course, what kind of speeds they’ll be carrying from one section to the next, and how best to make the event enjoyable for both the racers and the spectators that are sure to be lining the course. And with qualifying rounds scheduled for today, skier X finals on Saturday and boarder X finals on Sunday, spectators at Sugar Bowl should have many great opportunities to check out some of the action.

If things go similar to last year’s race, also held at Sugar Bowl, great spots to watch from will be the tight turns near the top of the course; the long, straight section in the middle featuring multiple big step-ups and jumps; and of course, the finish line just above the Judah Lodge.At the finish line, the top four men and top three women in skier X and the top two men and top woman in boarder X will earn invitations to the 2005 Winter X Games in Aspen – the ultimate competition for alternative winter sports.And while the competition is the focus of the weekend, spectators and competitors alike will want to stick around for the after parties featuring local acoustic musicians Drew and Irv on Friday and Sunday and Truckee’s own The Lifters on Saturday.