CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine ??вЂќ America’s top alpine racers, many of whom may be adorned with new Olympic medals, will close out the 2005-06 winter season at Sugarloaf/USA for the 2006 U.S. Alpine Championships on March 26-30.
Sugarloaf has a proud heritage of hosting world-class competitions, including the U.S. Championships in 1996 and ”97 and a World Cup event in 1971, and has been the proving ground for numerous top winter sports competitors for more than 50 years.
“The entire Sugarloaf community is ecstatic to welcome the nation’s top skiers including Sugarloaf’s own Bode Miller and Kirsten Clark to close out what is likely be one of the most exciting seasons the U.S. Ski Team has ever had,” said Sugarloaf’s President John Diller.
2005 World Cup overall champion Bode Miller launched his Ski Team career at the 1996 Alpine Nationals at Sugarloaf by finishing third in the slalom. Miller, who is expected to compete in the 2006 Olympic Winter Games and the U.S. Championships, spent his junior years developing his trademark racing style as a student at Carrabassett Valley Academy located at the base of Sugarloaf.
Miller is expected to be joined at Sugarloaf by America’s best World Cup racers including Daron Rahlves, Eric Schlopy, Kirsten Clark and Julia Mancuso who will go head to head with the nation’s best up and coming skiers.
The U.S. Championships match the best U.S. Ski Team athletes with hundreds of aspiring American skiers looking to measure themselves against world-class racers as they aim for spots on the U.S. Ski Team.
The 2006 Olympic Winter Games in February are expected to heighten interest in ski racing, and with one of the strongest U.S. Teams in history in place, many athletes may be making their first U.S. appearances as Olympic medalists at Sugarloaf. “New England skiers don’t get the opportunity to experience a race of this caliber in person very often so this is going to be a very special occasion for ski racing fans,” said Karen Greene, Sugarloaf’s brand manager.
The 2006 U.S. Alpine Championships will feature a downhill and super G on the fabled Narrow Gauge trail. Racers will cover nearly two miles at speeds of 85 miles per hour or more to the finish that will be staged in front of the Sugarloaf base lodge. Several jumps will hurtle racers more than 100 feet along the way and are sure to be fan favorites. “Our course will very spectator-friendly so fans can truly appreciate the speed and skills of these racers from just a few feet away,” Greene said. Photo and autograph sessions and festive opening ceremonies will also provide fans the chance to interact with these skiing superstars off the slopes.
For those who are more than casual racing fans, an army of volunteers will need to be recruited for dozens of duties on and off the slopes. Complete details on volunteer opportunities are expected to be available by the start of the ski season in mid-November.
The U.S. Alpine Championships (Sugarloaf, ME; dates subject to change):
March 25 – FIS downhill (not a championship)
March 26 – Men’s and women’s downhill
March 27 – Men’s and women’s super G
March 28 – Men’s and women’s slalom
March 29 – Men’s GS
March 30 – Women’s GS