Road to PyeongChang: Mammoth to host first Olympic qualifiers

Road to PyeongChang: Mammoth to host first Olympic qualifiers

The road to PyeongChang, site of the 2018 Winter Olympics, will start far, far away from South Korea with qualifying stop number one being a Grand Prix event at Mammoth Mountain in California.


Mammoth is no stranger to hosting top-notch Grand Prix events full of high-flying athletes.

At Mammoth, the best athletes in the world will go head-to-head for Olympic spots by way of halfpipe and slopestyle competitions. Following these qualifiers, the first round of athletes to compete in PyeongChang will be selected. Those selections pertain to the U.S. team, but the points up for grabs at each of these events affect all competitors greatly in their respective nations’ decisions. (Start shakin’, athletes.)

Several other Olympic qualifiers and selections will take place throughout the 2017-18 season (the Mammoth event is the only qualifier of the 2016-17 season), but dates and locations have yet to be announced. See the full press release, below, for all the current information and stay tuned for more as winter creeps closer.

Press release from the United States Ski and Snowboard Association:

PARK CITY, UT (June 23, 2016) – The U.S. Grand Prix, the longest running winter action sports tour, has announced three stops for the 2016-17 season, including the first of five Olympic selection events for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. Copper Mountain, CO and Mammoth Mountain, CA and will host the world’s best skiers and riders in halfpipe, slopestyle and big air, while skicross and snowboardcross athletes will return to the U.S. for the first time since 2011.

The tour kicks off at Copper Dec. 14-17 with halfpipe competitions for freeskiing and snowboarding and a big air snowboarding competition. The big air competition is also part of the United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) Team USA Winter Champions Series, a single-day television event featuring the Grand Prix along with luge and women’s hockey.

“Copper always does a fantastic job preparing its Main Vein halfpipe to give us an early season event in the U.S.,” said U.S. Grand Prix Tour Director Nick Alexakos. “The addition of the big air snowboarding event is a great opportunity to showcase the new Olympic sport in an iconic skiing and snowboarding community.”

Skiers and riders will descend upon Mammoth’s Unbound terrain park Feb. 2-5 for a weekend of halfpipe and slopestyle action, including the first Olympic selection events for men’s and women’s halfpipe skiing, slopestyle snowboarding and slopestyle skiing. This is the first time a selection event has been held a season prior to the Olympics. The U.S. Grand Prix has been the U.S. Olympic qualifying series since 1998 and Mammoth has hosted previous Olympic qualifying events, including the final qualifying event before the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

An additional four Olympic selection events for halfpipe skiing, halfpipe snowboarding and slopestyle skiing will take place during the 2017-18 season. Slopestyle snowboarding athletes will have three events plus a big air snowboarding event as part of the selection process for those teams. Olympic selection criteria and qualification sites will be announced in the coming months.

“Based on feedback after Sochi, we felt it would be beneficial to extend the qualification period and host an Olympic selection event this season,” stated U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Snowboarding and Freesking Director Jeremy Forster. “Mammoth has been part of the selection process since snowboarding became part of the Olympics in 1998 and we are fortunate to have them on board to support both snowboarding and freeskiing athletes on the Road to PyeongChang.”

A third U.S. Grand Prix event, featuring skicross and snowboardcross, is on the calendar for Jan. 19-22, with the location to be announced separately at a later date.

All U.S. Grand Prix freeskiing events will be sanctioned as FIS World Cup and Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) Platinum events. Snowboarding competitions will be sanctioned as FIS World Cups and World Snowboard Tour international events.

Last season, with a strong broadcast partnership with NBC Sports, the U.S. Grand Prix reached a total of 6.972 million U.S. television viewers. The third stop on the 2015-16 tour, the Polartec Big Air at Fenway, was the highest-rated winter action sports television broadcast of the season, averaging 1.357 million viewers with a .87 rating. Coverage is expected to grow this season and the next with the Grand Prix being the focal point of Olympic qualification for 2018. A full TV schedule will be released fall 2016.

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