World Cup schedules for U.S. stops have been approved by the International Ski Federation (FIS) and each one will have implications for selections to U.S. Olympic teams in alpine and freestyle skiing and snowboarding at the Sochi Olympics in February.
The schedule kicks off with back-to-back weekends (Nov. 29-Dec. 1 for women; Dec. 6-8 for men) in Beaver Creek, Colo. that will also be the final course tests for the World Alpine Ski Championships set for 2015. The weekend includes the debut of a new women’s downhill course.
“The new course is challenging to say the least,” says Stacey Cook, a member of the U.S. Women’s Speed Team. “There is a lot of speed plus big turns, which is something that doesn’t get combined all that often in women’s downhill. It’s really in your face, but that’s what makes it fun. We like to be challenged and you are going to have to be strong to handle this hill.”
The second weekend features the men’s downhill, super G, and giant slalom and is dubbed the Audi Birds of Prey Race Week.
“Beaver Creek is one of the athlete’s favorite stops on the World Cup,” says America’s Ted Ligety, who has won three of the last four World Cup GS events at the resort. “It’s our only home race and seems to always treat us well. Plus the hill preparation is always incredible. That’s something the volunteers take pride in and it’s something we, as athletes, appreciate.”
The Sprint U.S. Grand Prix, with the Visa Halfpipe and Slopestyle Skiing) is set for Copper Mountain Dec. 19-22. The schedule resumes after the holidays with the Visa Freestyle International (moguls, aerials) at Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort, Utah Jan. 9-11.
That same weekend brings the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix (Visa Halfpipe and Slopestyle Skiing) to Northstar, Calif. The FIS Freestyle World Cup (moguls and aerials) is Jan. 16-19 is at Whiteface at Lake Placid, N.Y.
Each World Cup event will be broadcast on NBC, along with the NBC Sports Network in the U.S., along with extensive television coverage worldwide.
Photo: Ted Ligety at Beaver Creek (U.S. Ski Team/Eric Shramm)