Freeskiing Nationals Invade Snowbird

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Snowbird, Utah Jan. 27, 2004 (Press Release) -- The seventh annual Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Nationals returns to Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort Feb. 2-6 featuring both a Big Mountain IFSA Freeskiing World Tour stop as well as a U.S. Skiercross Series competition.

Presented by The North Face, Amstel Light, Atomic Skis and Dakine, the Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Nationals is an adrenaline-filled week that includes four days of big mountain freeskiing competition - two days of qualifying, semis and finals - and a one-day skiercross event on Friday, Feb. 6.

"I am incredibly excited for the Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Nationals here again at Snowbird," said event director and International Free Skiers Association President Dave Swanwick. "Between the huge snowfall Snowbird has received this year and a new finals venue we're considering, this year's event should be one of the most exciting ever for both the athletes and spectators."

The events get under way Monday, Feb. 2, with a two-day 100-person qualifier to invite approximately 20 additional athletes to compete against the pre-qualified athletes in the World Tour event. The Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Nationals, the second stop on the International Free Skiers Association (IFSA) Freeskiing World Tour, will take place Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 4-5. This year's competition will attract over 150 competitors including defending champions Jonny Law and Ingrid Backstrom as well as a host of locals such as Rick Greener and Brant Moles.

The skiercross event, a motocross-style race featuring four skiers on a course of jumps, rolls and berms, will be in Snowbird's Gad Valley Friday, Feb. 6. Top X-Games athletes will be in attendance including X Gold Medal winners and former Olympians Zach and Reggie Crist.

Skiercross and Big Mountain athletes from around the world will compete for $20,000 in cash and prizes. Manuel Gaidet, France, and Ingrid Backstrom, California, winners at World Tour stop No. 1 in Whistler, B.C., will be at Snowbird vying for their second straight Big Mountain victories.

What are Big Mountain Freeskiing & Skiercross Competitions?
Unlike ski racing, where a course is set up for the competitor, big mountain freeskiing (formerly "extreme" skiing) allows a competitor to utilize the features existing on the mountain between the start house and the finish area. Competitors use areas such as cliffs, steeps and skiing speed to increase the difficulty of their run. Freeskiing is a judged competition with five categories: line choice, control, fluidity, technique, and aggression. There are 10 possible points in each category, for a total of 50 points possible per run. There are three runs scheduled for the main event. All competition venues at the Snowbird event are accessible to skiers and snowboarders of intermediate ability level with a lift ticket. Skiercross is a full-featured, man-made, race course in which four athletes simultaneously leave a single start and navigate berms, whoops and jumps to surpass their fellow competitors. The goal is to advance through a series of heats to reach and win the final heat.