America’s posse of Olympic snowboard champions, including gold medalists Hannah Teter, Shaun White and Seth Wescott, will lead some of the world’s best riders into the 2006-07 Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix. The three-stop series, now in its 11th year and announced yesterday by U.S. Snowboarding, touts smaller, more competitive fields, a mammoth 22-foot superpipe, the popular snowboardcross and the series’ first full-field, full-length slopestyle event.
The Grand Prix will open in Breckenridge, Colo., Dec. 14-16, then splash into Mountain Creek, N.J., Feb. 2-4, before concluding at the series’ newest venue of Tamarack, Id., Feb. 24-25. NBC and OLN (soon to be called Versus) will broadcast coverage of the entire series.
“It’s been exciting to watch the evolution of the Grand Prix Series and its emergence as the pathway to the Olympic Games for American riders,” said Grand Prix Tour Director Eric Webster. “As we start the next Olympic cycle, I’m particularly eager to see what role the Grand Prix will have in defining the careers of riders striving for Olympic team selection in 2010. In particular, the reduced field sizes will raise the caliber of competition and the prestige of the Grand Prix series.”
Fields sizes will be made up of about 90 men and 40 women in each of the halfpipe contests at all three venues. Only Tamarack will host a SBX event, expected to field about 100 men and 30 women. “The terrain at Tamarack seems like it was made for a world class SBX event," said Webster.
Tamarack also will be the site of the 22-foot superpipe – only the second U.S. venue to host an elite-level competition in a pipe of that size. At Mountain Creek, riders will heat up the night with halfpipe finals under the lights as well as compete in the Grand Prix’s first world-class slopestyle competition as the discipline pushes toward inclusion in the 2014 Olympics.
The 2007 series will offer one of the largest overall purses for a snowboarding series – prizes total more than $300,000 – along with broadcasting on NBC. Rebroadcasts and special presentations of events will be broadcast by OLN (Versus). In keeping with the tour’s tradition, overall winners of the Grand Prix series will be awarded a new Chevrolet truck.
A Grand Prix stop can have an economic impact of an estimated $5 million. According to a 2005 study of the Breckenridge event conducted by the University of Utah, Grand Prix spectators spent about $5.1 million during the Grand Prix. Of this amount, $4.6 million was spent on lodging, restaurants, retail spending, lift tickets and related ski services in the area with the rest spent on car rentals and gasoline.
The series kicks off in Breckenridge, which will be hosting its sixth Grand Prix (it also held the event in 2001, ’02, ’03, ’05 and ‘06). Breckenridge is home to standout U.S. Snowboarding rider and former X Games champion Steve Fisher. Teter, who won halfpipe gold in Torino, is going for a three-peat at Breckenridge after winning there the last two consecutive years.
Riders then head to Mountain Creek, located less than 50 miles from New York City and quickly becoming a top snowboarding venue boasting a world-class superpipe and terrain parks. With the halfpipe located right in the base area, Mountain Creek is one of the most accessible venues for spectators and media alike. 2007 marks the fourth-consecutive year Mountain Creek will host the Grand Prix.
The series concludes at Tamarack Resort, which opened its lifts in December 2004 and will host its first Grand Prix event. Tamarack prides itself on its snowboard facilities and is just the fourth resort in the country to build a 22-foot superpipe that will be used for the Grand Prix competition. SBX, which enjoyed extreme popularity at the Torino Games, will speed up the excitement at Tamarack. The series’ overall men’s and women’s halfpipe champions will each receive a Chevrolet truck. Last year’s winners were White and Gretchen Bleiler, who captured halfpipe silver in Torino.
2006-2007 Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix schedule:
Dec. 14-16, 2005, Breckenridge Ski Resort:
- Friday, Dec. 15 – Superpipe Qualifiers
- Saturday, Dec. 16 – Superpipe Finals and Night Downtown Exhibition
Feb. 2-4, 2006, Mountain Creek Resort:
- Saturday, Feb. 3 – Superpipe Qualifiers and Night Finals
- Sunday, Feb. 4 – Slopestyle
Feb. 24-25, 2006, Tamarack:
- Saturday, Feb. 24 – 22-Foot Superpipe Qualifiers and Finals
- Sunday, Feb. 25 – Snowboardcross Time Trials and Heats