It’s a big weekend for US Snowboarding here in Mammoth. The top riders from around the country will compete three times over four days in hopes of making the U.S. Olympic team headed to Sochi, Russia in early February.
Grand Prix events in both halfpipe and slopestyle will take place Thursday through Sunday at Mammoth Unbound at Main Lodge. After the competition on Sunday, USSA (U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association) will name the 2014 Olympic Team for men and women.
The team at Mammoth Unbound, led by manager TJ Dawoud, has done an impressive job building the features for this event despite the snow conditions. “We have fantastic and expansive resources here with high capacity snow making operations. It’s going to be awesome.” Dawoud said.
“I’ve had two days practicing in the pipe and it’s by far the best pipe we’ve ridden in all season. It’s incredible what Mammoth Mountain was able to pull off,” said Kelly Clark, Olympic halfpipe gold and bronze medalist and Mammoth local. “The Town and the Mountain will have a hand in seeing the best athletes represent the US in Russia by hosting this event.”
There are a total of five Olympic qualifiers for U.S. athletes: The Dew Tour and then four Grand Prix events hosted by USSA. The first two qualifiers took place in Colorado before Christmas. The third event was originally scheduled to take place at Northstar in Tahoe but was moved to Breckenridge in early January due to lack of snow in California. Ironically, the event was cancelled because of too much snow in Colorado. The last two events were already scheduled to take place this weekend in Mammoth.
On Monday, the USSA announced it will add another Olympic qualifying event to the schedule in Mammoth. Two slopestyle qualifying finals will run Thursday and two halfpipe qualifying finals will run Friday. As previously planned, the final slopestyle qualifier will run on Saturday and halfpipe on Sunday.
These are some of “the most competitive, high quality, progressive events people can go to,” Clark said on Tuesday. “We are probably going to see some of the best riding we’ve seen in the history of the sport this weekend and then we’ll carry that straight into Russia.”
And adding the third event doesn’t change much for TJ and his team: “It will be a little more work but the venue is already set up. If anything it increases our exposure.”
Watch Mammoth locals, Greg Bretz and Kelly Clark, along with U.S. athletes Shaun White, Danny Davis, Gretchen Bleiler, Jamie Anderson, Hanna Teter, Arielle Gold Chas Gueldemond, Taylor Gold and more compete this weekend.
For the full event schedule visit http://ussnowboarding.com/.