Jeep and Honda tours merge into one new entity
TELLURIDE – The Jeep King of the Mountain Ski Tour opened up Thursday in Telluride with a new look.The 15-year-old series merged with the Honda Ski Tour prior to this season.”The Ski Tour had live music, entertainment and world-class racing in one package – something that hadn’t been done before,” said King of the Mountain spokesperson Al Sommers. “And the Jeep tour had 15 years of heritage.”The merger follows the announcement that ski cross will be featured in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.”We’re trying to complete a bridge between the X Games and the Olympics,” Sommers said. “It’s the only professional series that gives (competitors) a platform to race against future Olympians.”The Jeep Tour has moved from a two-person ski cross format to a four-person format in order to conform to International Olympic Committee (IOC) standards. Men’s qualifying heats took place Thursday with 32 racers advancing to Saturday’s finals. Snowboard cross qualifying takes place today. Summit locals Jake Fiala (formerly on the U.S. Alpine Ski Team) and up-and-comer Tanner Bardin advanced on Friday along with favorites Daron Rahlves (U.S. ski team alumnus), Casey Puckett and Enak Gavaggio.Wildernest pro Brian Connelly began his third season on the Jeep tour Thursday, but was unable to advance beyond the individual time trial.”Skiing in traffic is where I shine bright,” Connelly said. “Going against former U.S Ski teamers in a time trial is hard for me.”Ski and snowboard fans in Telluride will also get to enjoy concerts, by among others, Macy Gray, Michael Franti and Blackalicous.The Jeep King of the Mountain Ski Tour will also visit Squaw Valley, Calif. (Feb. 8-10) and Sun Valley, Idaho (March 14-16).
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