Georgetown, CO, Nov. 14, 2001--The best skiers in the world from more than 15 countries, including three reigning world champions, will battle it out for $22,000 in prizemoney on the slopes of Loveland Ski Area Thursday through Sunday with the Nature Valley Alpine Cup.
Benjamin Raich, the defending men's World Cup slalom champion, and Mario Matt, the reigning slalom World Champion, will lead the powerful Austrian Ski Team againstAmerican favorites Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT) and Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) during two days of men's slalom competition on Thursday and Friday. In addition, Slovenia'sJure Kosir, the 1994 Olympic slalom bronze medalist, and Mitja Kunc, slalom bronze medallist at the 2001 World Championships, will be among those to watch as well. Firstrun 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's race takes on an added measure of importance for the Americans as it is a U.S. Ski Team GoldCup event where the top American will earn a wildcard 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 against Sweden's Anja Paerson, the reigningslalom World Champion; Switzerland's Sonia Nef, the reigning giant slalom World Champion; and Australia's Zali Steggall, the 1999 slalom World Champion.
However, absent from the field is defending women's World Cup champion Janica Kostelic of Croatia, who is sitting out the event to further rest left knee after two surgeriesthis summer and prepare for next weekend's Aspen Winternational Café de Colombia World Cup event.
The Loveland Valley base area will be transformed into a mini alpine village for the event where race fans will have the chance to win numerous prizes, including Loveland lifttickets, and check out the latest products from more than 25 ski and snowboard equipment, clothing and accessories manufactures.
This is the second year in a row that Loveland Ski Area, just 56 miles from Denver on Interstate 70 and located high atop the Continental Divide, has hosted theseason-opening U.S. Ski Team event.
Last year, Schleper and Schlopy swept the competition in all four slaloms against a tough international field that included Kostelic and Raich.
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 begin their Olympic quest. Following theNature Valley Alpine Cup, racers will head to Aspen for men1s and women1s Café de Colombia World Cup slalom and giant slalom at the Chevy Trucks AspenWinternational Nov. 22-26. The Café de Colombia World Cup then heads to Beaver Creek for men's downhill 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 CBS at 5 p.m. EST and is the first event in the 2002 Chevy Truck Super Series, which is the U.S. portion ofthe FIS Nor Am Cup.