CHICAGO (January 11, 2008) — This season, two of the world's top freeskiers have developed a brand new ski event in order to meet the demand for open formatted, inclusive competitions. Jon Olsson and Simon Dumont, in collaboration with rEvolution, producers of the Paul Mitchell 2008 Open Freeski tour, JOI and Freeskier Magazine, are creating a new open freeski championship event, the North American Open. As the first stop on the Opens Freeski tour, the North American Open will take place February 22-24 and will serve as a new North American championship event for emerging freeskiing talent. Breckenridge Ski Resort in Breckenridge, Colo., was selected as the location for the North American Open because it boasts one of the top-ranked pipes and terrain parks in the world, in addition to its consistent snowfall and skiing conditions.
"Our goal is to create the biggest and best open event in the world, said Olsson, an eight-time Winter X-Games medalist. "We envision an event where amateurs can ride under a stress-free environment that will bring out their best skills to challenge the pros and maybe beat them, and possibly jump start a professional career.
In addition to Jon and Simon's involvement, part of what will make the North American Open stand out from similar events is a new judging format. In contrast to the traditional two-or-three run contest format the North American Open will feature a judged run for each of the competitors in the morning, on Friday, February 22, followed by a "jam session" in the afternoon. Simon and Jon, as well as the other judges, will be awarding keys to those competitors, pros and amateurs alike, that they feel are worthy of moving on to the finals. The selected athletes will join a small cast of invited athletes in the finals, with a more traditional, three-run final to decide the overall winners.
"The North American Open will be made by riders, for riders, said Dumont, a two-time X Games gold medalist who is considered one of the best superpipe riders in the world. "We know how we want a contest to be run, what makes it fun, how much training we need, what formats riders want, etc. Even if you don't finish in the top, we hope all the riders still have fun.
As an "open event, registration for the North American Open will be available to both men and women, including professional and amateur competitors. Riders can register online at OpensFreeSki.com . On-site registration will be held at the North America Open office trailer at the Base of Peak 8 on February 20, from 8 AM to 5 PM.
The North American Open event schedule is as follows:
Thursday, February 21, 2008 — Registration and Practice
Friday, February 22, 2008 — Slopestyle qualifier
Saturday, February 23, 2008 — Slopestyle final
Sunday, February 24, 2008 — Halfpipe qualifying and final
The North American Open kicks off the 2008 Opens Freeski, formerly the Paul Mitchell American Freeski Tour, and is a newly sanctioned platform of freeski events, providing high level competitions in half pipe and slopestyle for men and women. Paul Mitchell is continuing its support of emerging freeskiing talent by serving as the title sponsor of Opens Freeski and has been an avid supporter of freeskiing since 2004. Other confirmed Opens Freeski sponsors include Navy, Spyder and Freeskier magazine.
The remaining Opens Freeski events are as follows:
Big Bear Open
Bear Mountain Resort, Big Bear Lake, Calif.
March 8-9, 2008
Mount Snow Open
Mount Snow Resort, West Dover, Vt.
March 22-23, 2008
Each Opens Freeski event, including the North American Open, will have a $20,000 event purse paying through all athletes who make the finals. Athletes will be required to be members of the United States Ski and Snowboard AAssociation (USSA) to compete in Opens Freeski events. All Opens Freeski events will be televised on Fuel TV, the only action sports network in the United States. The North American Open will be highlighted in two, 30-minute original broadcasts on Fuel, scheduled to air in the spring and again in the fall of '08, leading into the new season.