U.S. Ski Team’s Steven Nyman and Jimmy Cochran, along with alum Kaylin Richardson will be there to set the pace. As will American ski racing celebrities like A.J. Kitt, Heidi Voelker and Doug Lewis along with over 1,200 amateur athletes from across the country who qualified for the big dance by racing at their local mountain.
“There are 10 courses set all over the mountain with a few thousand people gunning down them every day,” said Nyman, who has been an official pacesetter since 2005. “It’s an incredible scene full of people of all ages who are passionate about ski racing.”
With ages, levels of ability and intensity ranging, the event is focused around fun. But the men’s and women’s national champions do walk away with the prize of a lifetime – an all-expense paid trip to the Southern Hemisphere to train this summer with the U.S. Alpine Ski Team including Olympic champions Lindsey Vonn, Ted Ligety and Julia Mancuso.
Last year’s women’s champion Jeanette Saylor cashed in on a trip to Valle Nevado, Chile with the women’s tech team and two-time men’s champion Robby Zehner has hit up a speed camp in Portillo with guys like Nyman and Olympic medalist Andrew Weibrecht.
“There are guys who are 90-years-old and just happy to be sliding around on skis and then there are hundreds of young kids still working their way out of the pizza pie. The ability range is all over the place, but it’s all about fun. It’s the little league of ski racing and everyone is fired up,” said Nyman.
Competition opened Friday and continues through the March 27 along with free concerts, public awards and other entertainment.
“There are families all over the hill just cheering like crazy for everyone,” added Nyman. “It’s just such a friendly atmosphere and definitely how I was hooked on ski racing.”
Nyman will then roll directly into the Putnam U.S. Alpine Championships along with Ligety, Mancuso and other top racers from across the country to battle for U.S. pride.