Copper Mountain, CO…December 5, 2008… Halfpipe superstars from across the globe have descended upon Copper Mountain this week in preparation for the season's first U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix coming up Dec. 11-13. In its 13th season, the Grand Prix is the longest standing snowboarding circuit in world.
According to U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix Tour Director Eric Webster, the field at Copper Mountain, which includes 17 countries and about 185 athletes, is one for the records. "To my knowledge it is the biggest international field we have ever had. I think the most nations we have had in the past have been 13," Webster said. "It brings a lot of talent to the field and a lot of legitimacy to the event. You've got most of the best riders in the world competing." Heating up the international squad will be X Games gold medalist Antti Autti of Finland, reigning X Games silver medalists Ryo Aono of Japan and Torah Bright of Australia, in addition to Olympians Soko Yamaoka of Japan and Sophie Rodriguez of France.
The Copper superpipe is set to host some of the best air action this side of the Mississippi with riders like X Games gold medalists Gretchen Bleiler (Aspen, CO) and Steve Fisher (Breckenridge, CO), Olympic gold medalist Hannah Teter (South Lake Tahoe, CA), Olympian Elena Hight (South Lake Tahoe, CA) and reigning Grand Prix overall champions Louie Vito (Sandy, UT) and Kelly Clark (West Dover, VT). Also working the pipe in Copper will be U.S. Snowboarding's Scotty Lago (Seabrook, NH), Elijah Teter (South Lake Tahoe, CA), Clair Bidez (Minturn, CO), Greg Bretz (Mammoth Lakes, CA), Tommy Czeschin (Mammoth Lakes, CA) and Ellery Hollingsworth (Stratton, VT).
This year at Copper the Grand Prix will include a superpipe competition as well as the Paul Mitchell Progression Session, which is a unique nighttime exhibit for top pros and spectators consisting of a bomb drop into a cliff-style step down and finishing with a huge log stall. Both the superpipe finals and the nighttime exhibition are on Sat., Dec. 13. The superpipe finals start around mid–day; practice starts at 10am and the finals start at 11am. The Paul Mitchell Progression Sessions practice starts at 6:30 p.m. and the exhibition starts at 7 p.m.
"Essentially the nighttime exhibit is a very progressive two hit slopestyle," Webster said. "Riders will have a plethora of options on the log stall feature with transition on both sides. The venue is parked right in the Copper Mountain village and will provide a very entertaining and intimate experience for the spectators.” Adding to the night will be the musical stylings of DJ Majai, a longtime DJ with the Grand Prix who is making a special appearance out of retirement for the Copper Mountain stop.
Grand Prix Competition Schedule:
Thurs, Dec. 11
9 - 10:30 a.m. Women’s HP Practice Main Vein
10:30 -11:30 a.m. Women’s Heat #1 Qual. Main vein
11:30 - 11:45 a.m. Women’s Heat #2 Practice Main vein
11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Women’s Heat #2 Qual. Main vein
1 – 3 p.m. Men’s HP Practice Main Vein
5 – 6 p.m. Men’s HP Rider Meeting CCC
Fri, Dec. 12
8:30 - 8:55 a.m. Men Heat #1 Practice Main Vein
9 - 10:30 a.m. Men Heat #1 Qualifiers Main Vein
10:30 - 10:55 a.m. Men Heat #2 Practice Main Vein
11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Men Heat #2 Qualifiers Main Vein
12:30 - 12:55 p.m. Men Heat #3 Practice Main Vein
1 - 2:30 p.m. Men Heat #3 Qualifiers Main Vein
6 - 8 p.m. Exhibition Practice Lower Bouncer
Sat, Dec. 13
10 - 10:50 a.m. HP Finals Practice Main Vein
11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. HP Finals Main Vein
Awards immediately following
6:30 – 7 p.m. Exhibition practice Lower Bouncer
7 - 8:30 p.m. Exhibition Lower Bouncer
Awards immediately following
Sun, Dec. 14 Weather Day
Enthusiasts can catch the Grand Prix live as it will be webcast on www.go211.com, or turn on the television either on Dec. 14 on NBC at 2 p.m. ET or on Versus Dec. 27 at 4 p.m. ET. The Paul Mitchell Progression Session will also air on Versus Jan. 4 at 5 p.m. ET.
"We're here at Copper and we have the whole gang here. It's sunny and the pipe is riding really well," said U.S. Snowboarding Halfpipe Head Coach Mike Jankowski. "You can feel the anticipation in the air." As far as Jankowski is concerned, the Copper Grand Prix's list of expected riders will make for a level of competition that's never been seen at this series.