World’s best slalom skiers coming to Breck |

World’s best slalom skiers coming to Breck

Special to the Daily/Jonathan Selkowitz/www.selkopVail's Sarah Schleper competes in the women's world cup slalom finals at Sestriere, Italy in March. Ranked 12th in the world in the discipline heading into the 2004-2005 season, Schleper will be one of dozens of elite skiers competing at Breckenridge beginning Sunday.

BRECKENRIDGE – The world’s best ski racers are about to take over the slopes on part of Breckenridge’s Peak 9.The FIS alpine ski season kicks of its North American season on Sunday with the first of four days of slalom racing.”This is as close to World Cup skiing as you can get without it actually being a World Cup event,” said Breckenridge alpine racing coordinator Jeff Westcott. It all begins with the world’s elite women taking part in the 2004 U.S. Ski Team Women’s Warm-up and Rocky Mountain Trophy Series, as national teams from all over the planet compete in a qualifier for the women’s World Cup which begins in Aspen later in the week.

The women’s races continue on Monday as the skiers keep refining their early season form for the World Cup races. “They’re just looking into equipment and figuring out the race mentality,” Westcott said. “There’s nothing as good for training for racing quite like actually racing.” Organizers with the U.S. Ski Team are confident that the U.S. women are ready for the competitions.”The physical conditioning and on snow training for the women has been very aggressive over the summer and into the fall,” said the team’s national competition director, Walt Evans. “The U.S. women are better prepared than ever to compete at the highest level internationally.”

U.S. national team members Sarah Schleper, Kristina Koznick, Caroline Lalive and Lindsey Kildow are all expected to attend. Many of Europe’s best skiers will also be in the field, including Tanja Poutiainen and Janica Kostelic, who are ranked fourth and seventh in the world in slalom heading into the races. After the women depart for Aspen, the world’s elite male alpine skiers take over the slalom course with two days of racing designed to give the men a final test before the men’s World Cup arrives in Beaver Creek on Nov. 30. “I’m excited to have the Europeans here,” Westcott said. “I know the Austrian men and women should be here, so it’s going to be quite a show.”

Spectators are welcome to attend all four days. Each day will consist of two runs, with the first beginning at 9:30 a.m. and the second at 1 p.m. The women’s races will take place on Columbia, while the men’s races may take place on Columbia or Sundown. The entire course is visible from the Beaver Run SuperChair, and a spectator entrance to view the course will be created at tower 26 under the SuperChair. Awards will be presented to the top three finishers at the Beaver Run Base Area 30 minutes after the last racer crosses the finish line. Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236 or at

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