CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine ??вЂќ Some of the nation’s top junior ski racers will converge at Sugarloaf/USA next week in their quest at making it to the U.S. Alpine Championships next month and possibly earning a spot on the U.S. Ski Team.
Sugarloaf is host to two competitions that will showcase the talents of what is sure to be the next generation of U.S. Ski Team members. On Feb. 28-Mar. 6, Sugarloaf will host the Banknorth Eastern Alpine Championships. The top 120 junior racers (J1) from New England will converge on the fabled Narrow Gauge trail in hopes of earning a bid to race at the national championships. Success at nationals is essential to getting to the top in ski racing for these 15-19 year old men and women, which is a spot on the U.S. Ski Team and the chance to compete on the FIS World Cup circuit.
The following week, Mar. 7-13, Sugarloaf will host the National Junior Alpine Championships (J2). Only 140 men and women out of the thousands who compete in U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) events throughout the season have earned the right to compete in Nationals. Competitors from coast to coast, Canada, and Europe will compete for the national title in all four alpine disciplines, including the downhill, super-G, giant slalom and slalom. The grand prize for the top two in each event is an invitation to the U.S. Alpine Championships.
Speed and some technical events will be held on Sugarloaf’s Narrow Gauge trail, which is hallowed ground in ski racing. It was host to the 1971 World Cup downhill and, nearly 30 years later, is where Bode Miller developed his passion for speed as a student at Carrabassett Valley Academy. It is the only trail in the East that is sanctioned to host all four disciplines of alpine ski racing at the international level. “Not many mountains can host an event of this caliber,” said Jim McCormack, Sugarloaf’s competition manager. “With the terrain and the jumps, the Narrow Gauge will be all they can handle.” With speeds expected to approach 80 miles per hour, the downhill will be a spectacular display of speed and power while the technical events will showcase poise and skill on skis.
The Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) is the national governing body for Olympic skiing and snowboarding. Founded in 1904, the century-old organization provides leadership and direction for tens of thousands of young skiers and snowboarders who share an Olympic dream. As a company, USSA ‘s management and staff coordinate a nationwide program in seven distinctly different Olympic sports — alpine, cross country, disabled, freestyle, ski jumping, Nordic combined, and snowboarding.