Georgetown, Colo. Nov. 13, 2001 (USSA)--The best skiers in the world, includingthree reigning world champions, from more than 15 countries will battleit out for $22,000 in prize money on the slopes of Loveland Ski AreaThursday through Sunday at the Nature Valley Alpine Cup.
Benjamin Raich, the defending men's World Cup slalom champion, and MarioMatt, the reigning slalom World Champion, will lead the powerfulAustrian Ski Team against American favorites Erik Schlopy (Park City,UT) and Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) during two days of men's slalomcompetition on Thursday and Friday. In addition, Slovenia's Jure Kosir,the 1994 Olympic slalom bronze medalist, and Mitja Kunc, slalom bronzemedallist at the 2001 World Championships, will be among those to watchas well. The first run is 10 a.m. both days followed by the second at 1 p.m.
Meanwhile, the women will compete on Saturday and Sunday as Saturday'srace takes on an added measure of importance for the Americans as it isa U.S. Ski Team Gold Cup event where the top American will earn awildcard spot on the 2002 Olympic Team and take home $10,000.
American's Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN), Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO)and Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO) will line up againstSweden's Anja Paerson, the reigning slalom World Champion; Switzerland'sSonia Nef, the reigning giant slalom World Champion; and Australia'sZali Steggall, the 1999 slalom World Champion.
However, absent from the field is defending women's World Cup championJanica Kostelic of Croatia, who is sitting out the event to further rest herleft knee after two surgeries this summer and prepare for next weekend'sAspen Winternational Café de Colombia World Cup event.
The Loveland Valley base area will be transformed into a mini alpinevillage for the event where race fans will have the chance to winnumerous prizes, including Loveland lift tickets, and check out thelatest products from more than 25 ski and snowboard equipment, clothingand accessories manufactures.
This is the second year in a row that Loveland Ski Area, just 56 milesfrom Denver on Interstate 70 and located high atop the ContinentalDivide, has hosted the season-opening U.S. Ski Team event.
Last year, Schleper and Schlopy swept the competition in all fourslaloms against a tough international field that included Kostelic andRaich.
The Nature Valley Alpine Cup is the first event of a three-event U.S.Ski Team Colorado Swing where the top ski racers in the world will begintheir Olympic quest. Following the Nature Valley Alpine Cup, racers willhead to Aspen for men1s and women1s Café de Colombia World Cup slalomand giant slalom at the Chevy Trucks Aspen Winternational Nov. 22-26.The Café de Colombia World Cup then heads to Beaver Creek for men1sdownhill and super-G at the Chevy Trucks Birds of Prey Dec. 1-2.
The Nature Valley Alpine Cup at Loveland will be aired Dec. 8th on CBSat 5 p.m. EST and is the first event in the 2002 Chevy Truck SuperSeries, which is the U.S. portion of the FIS Nor Am Cup.
For more information about the U.S. Ski Team, log on to their website at www.usskiteam.com