Park City, Utah Nov. 6, 2001 (USSA)--Colorado ski resorts will kickoff the Olympic season with the biggestlineup of international ski races in state history with theseason-opening U.S. Ski Team Colorado Swing. The three weekend circuitat Loveland, Aspen and Beaver Creek will attract most of the world's topalpine ski racers to Colorado resorts for early-season training andWorld Cup ski racing. The events will be seen nationwide on CBS Sports,ESPN, and Outdoor Life Network with worldwide coverage of events inAspen and Beaver Creek World Cups.
"Colorado has always played a key role in the World Cup. Being able tokickoff the Olympic season in Colorado is a big plus for the world's topracers," said former Olympian and Aspen native Bill Marolt, now U.S. SkiTeam president and CEO, "thanks to the combination of what mother natureprovides and the technology of snow preparation at Colorado resorts."
The Colorado Swing will open Nov. 15-18 in Loveland with the NatureValley Alpine Cup. The opening event is expected to draw many of theworld's top slalom racers in a tuneup event for the World Cup a weeklater. Americans Erik Schlopy (Park City, Ut.) and Bode Miller(Franconia, N.H.) will headline the men's slaloms Nov. 15-16, whileAmericans Sarah Schleper (Vail, Colo.) and Kristina Koznick (Burnsville,Minn.) will lead the field in the women's slaloms Nov. 17-18 atLoveland.
The Nov. 17 women's slalom at the Nature Valley Alpine Cup will take onadditional significance as a designated U.S. Ski Team Gold Cup event.The top U.S. ski racer in the women's slalom will get a wild card spoton the U.S. Olympic Team. (The men's Gold Cup slalom will be held inlate December in Utah.)
Action will shift to Aspen Nov. 22-26 for the stateside opening of theInternational Ski Federation's Café de Colombia Alpine World Cup. Thefive-race weekend will pit the world's best against a very strong U.S.Ski Team. The women will open with a World Cup giant slalom onThanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, with the men skiing GS the next day. The GSfield ¿ with new stars rising in the absence of defending champ HermannMaier ¿ will put the spotlight on Schlopy, the rising American star whowas third in the season-long World Cup GS last year, an 18-year best foran American.
The women's slalom, which last year pitted young Croatian star JanicaKostelic against American star Koznick, comes up on Saturday. The menwrapup the weekend with back-to-back slaloms Sunday and Monday.
Action shifts to the world-reknowned Birds of Prey downhill at BeaverCreek Dec. 1-2 where World Champion Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, Calif.)and hometown hero Chad Fleischer (Vail, Colo.) point their skis downhillat 75 mph in one of the steepest and technically-challenging courses onthe World Cup circuit. Rahlves, who beat all of the powerful Austrianson their home course in last year's World Championships, comes into thisyear's World Cup circuit with a huge confidence boost.
Spectator access at each stop of the Colorado Swing is free, with plentyof activities in addition to seeing the best Olympic ski racers inaction.
For more information about the U.S. Ski Team, log n to their website at www.usskiteam.com