For U.S. Olympic freesking and snowboarding hopefuls — as well as World Cup competitors — the road to February’s games in Sochi, Russia, is about to take a U-turn back to Colorado. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, in conjunction with the International Ski Federation (FIS), announced late Thursday that the next U.S. Grand Prix stop — scheduled for Northstar California, Jan. 6-12 — has been canceled and will be moved to Breckenridge.
“We are thrilled to have the road to Sochi come back through Breckenridge and support this important event in the U.S. Olympic qualifying process. This is a huge testament to our staff and we are incredibly honored,” Breckenridge marketing director Kieran Cain said in a statement.
“Breckenridge will be an outstanding World Cup/Grand Prix venue and a vital part of our Olympic Team selection,” USSA events vice president Calum Clark said in a news release. “We’re very sorry to not be going to Northstar, which has an outstanding track record of building tremendous venues.”
USSA officials said the decision was based on weather and snowmaking capabilities. The FIS release said that temperatures at the ski area have not been conducive to allowing the snowmaking required to build a competition-sized half-pipe and slopestyle course, and the warming trend is expected to continue into next week.
With Colorado having above average snowfall so far this season and Breckenridge having just hosted the Dew Tour, moving the Grand Prix back to Colorado became the logical choice.
The four-stop Grand Prix — currently underway at Copper — together with last week’s Dew Tour make up the five qualifying events for the Olympic team. With the move to Breckenridge, three of the five events will now take place in Colorado. The final two selection events will be back-to-back competitions in Park City, Utah, for freeskiing, and Mammoth, Calif., for snowboarding.
In addition to being U.S. selection events, the Copper Grand Prix and now Breckenridge Grand Prix also double as FIS World Cup events, drawing international freeskiers and snowboarders. Competition at Breckenridge kick off Wednesday, Jan. 8, and run through Sunday, Jan. 12.