The US Olympic snowboard team, including a record seven gold medalists, lead some of the country’s top riders into the 2006-07 Chevrolet US Snowboard Grand Prix. The three-stop series, now in its 11th year, kicks off in Breckenridge, Colorado on December 14th and is set to spark some fierce competition.
The contest has smaller, more competitive fields, attracting a niche set of pro boarders. Last season, Olympic gold medalist Shaun White swept the series for the first time in its 11-year history, while silver medalist Gretchen Bleiler won four out of five stops. This season, expect Olympic champions Hannah Teter and Seth Wescott to again raise the bar on the 22-foot superpipe, snowboardcross and the series’ first full-field, full-length slopestyle event.
“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 will also host the 22-foot superpipe, making it only the second US venue to host a top competition in a pipe of that size. At Mountain Creek, riders will heat up the night with halfpipe finals 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 offers one of the largest overall purses for a snowboarding series, with prizes totalling $300,000, plus overall winners will be awarded a new Chevrolet truck.
2006-07 Chevrolet US Snowboard Grand Prix Schedule:
Dec 14-16th 2006, Breckenridge Ski Resort
Feb 2-4th, 2007, Mountain Creek Resort
Feb 24-25th, 2007, Tamarack
More info on: www.ussnowboarding.com