The North Face Park and Pipe Open Series returns to Copper Mountain Resort this weekend, giving aspiring half-pipe skiers the opportunity to compete against some of the world’s best, including members of the U.S. Freeski Team vying for spots in this year’s Olympics.
The event will kick off three consecutive weekends of high-level half-pipe and slopestyle competition, with the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships the following week in Breckenridge and the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix Dec. 16-22 at Copper.
The two-day North Face freeski half-pipe competition kicks off with women’s qualifiers at 10:15 a.m. Saturday in the Olympic-size half-pipe above Center Village at Copper, followed by the men at 12:30 p.m.
Men’s and women’s finals will get rolling at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
“There’s a lot of excitement and intensity around this year’s event,” North Face series spokeswoman Jessica Kunzer said. “We have a lot of really motivated, and maybe a little nervous, athletes.”
With the Olympics in Sochi just two months away and members of the U.S. and other teams training at Copper, the level of competition is expected to be high.
Because this Noram Cup event is sanctioned by the International Ski Federation, athletes will have an opportunity to improve their points standing.
The North Face series is the only open-entry contest of the three Summit County events, giving amateurs a chance to make a name for themselves. The winners will qualify for a spot on the U.S. Grand Prix series, which is part of the U.S. Olympic team selection process. Ski half-pipe and ski and snowboard slopestyle will be new Olympic events when the games get underway in Sochi in February.
Kunzer said that a third-place finish in last year’s competition was a significant factor in Aaron Blunck making the U.S. pro team.
“We’re excited to host The North Face Park and Pipe Series, it’s a great opportunity for professionals and amateurs to compete side by side,” Copper Mountain spokeswoman Stephanie Sweeney said, describing the series as an “up-and-coming competition” that’s gaining traction.
Want to watch the finals but can’t attend? Kunzer said they will be live-streaming the competition Sunday at www.thenorthfaceppos.com. Guests in attendance will be able to watch the competition from Center Village.
Alpine Noram racing will also take place through the weekend at the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center in Copper Mountain’s East Village.