Park City, UT, Oct. 3, 2000--Why wait until 2002 when world-class ski racing will be here in November? In keeping with its rich tradition of alpine racing competition, Park City Mountain Resort again serves as the venue for the domestic season opener of the Café de Colombia FIS World Cup ski circuit and the final alpine test event before the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, the 15th ChevyTruck America's Opening Nov. 16 - 19.
"This season will be a particularly exciting time to attend America's Opening because it will be the last World Cup ski competition the Resort will host prior to the 2002 Olympic Winter Games," said Karen Korfanta, Park City Mountain Resort race department manager and chairperson of the America's Opening Organizing Committee.
One of the U.S. athletes to watch at this year's event, which marks the start of continuous racing on the World Cup schedule, is Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN). "Koz," who made her international breakthrough at Park City in November 1997 with a fourth in the America's Opening slalom, has won four World Cup races; now, she competes in giant slalom.
U.S. Team racers to keep an eye on include Park City native Erik Schlopy, who scored his first World Cup slalom top-10 finish last season in South Korea; Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) who not only made his World Cup debut during the 1997 America's Opening races but made it a major breakthrough, too, finishing 11th in the men's GS; Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) ranked in the top 25 in the world inboth SL and GS, and a former World Junior Championships medalist; 1999 World Juniors combined champion Caroline LaLive (Steamboat, CO), who scored points in all five World Cup events (SL/GS/SG/DH/CO) last season; and, of course, Park City's own Alex Shaffer, who spent most of last season on the bench after suffering an injury in the first World Cup race of the season, but who has had a healthy pre-season and is anxious to be racing at home again.
Some of the foreign athletes hoping to make their mark in Park City Mountain Resort's Eagle Race Arena one last time before the bigshow comes to town in 2002 include: the great Hermann Maier (AUT), who broke the World Cup overall record last season with an incredible 2000 points -- the equivalent of 20 victories over the course of one season (some racing fans may recall how Maier was disqualified at the 1998 America's Opening for straddling a gate during the giant slalom.); Kjetil Andre Aamodt (NOR), the defending World Cup slalom champion; Lasse Kjus (NOR) who missed most of last season due to an injury after winning the 1999 World Cup overall title; the top two women slalom racers, Spela Pretner (SLO) and Christel Saioni (FRA); Michaela Dorfmeister (AUT) the WorldCup circuit's top female GS racer; and Alexandra Meissnitzer (AUT), the 1999 overall women's World Cup champion, who is coming back from a knee injury.
This summer, the base of the Eagle Race Arena was widened and re-graded from about two-thirds of the way down the course (an area more commonly known as the 'dog leg') to the finish line. Korfanta - who was recently named race organizer of the year by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association at its annual convention - said the work was completed primarily to create more space for additional infrastructure for the upcoming Olympic Winter Games, including the snowboarding halfpipe venue. America's Opening is the first race in the newly configured arena.
"The finish area of the Eagle Race Arena is now significantly steeper than it was, making it possible for us to see some faster finish times at this year's event," Korfanta said.
In addition to Olympic-caliber ski racing, America's Opening festivities include a free concert and street dance at Park City's historic Main Street on Friday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m.
Admission to the Chevy Truck America's Opening is $5 for general admission tickets or free for Park City Mountain Resort season pass holders. Guests can also purchase Lunch at the RRaces tickets, which include base-area bleacher seating, a gourmet, course-side lunch and special event memorabilia.
Lunch at the Races tickets are $20 for Thursday's or Friday's competition, or $40 for Saturday or Sunday's races. Two-day Lunch at the Races tickets, valid on Saturday and Sunday, are $70 each. General admission and Lunch at the Races tickets may be purchased at Park City Mountain Resort's Sports Desk open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 435-647-5467 or 800-222-PARK (7275).
Chevy Truck America's Opening
- Thursday, Nov. 16 - women's giant slalom, first run: 10 a.m.
- Friday, Nov. 17 - men's giant slalom, first run: 10 a.m.
- Saturday, Nov. 18 - women's slalom, first run: 10:15 a.m.
- Sunday, Nov. 19 - men's slalom, first run: 10 a.m.