The U.S. Ski Team’s alpine racing season will come to an exciting close this weekend (March 31 – April 3) as a field of top U.S. racers and promising up-and-comers gather in Winter Park, Colo. for the 2011 U.S. National Championships.
Competition will kick off Thursday, March 31 with the men’s giant slalom as recently crowned World Cup GS champ Ted Ligety is expected to take on his domestic competition on home snow.
“It’s always cool to see all the top athletes in the U.S. together,” said Ligety, who also earned the giant slalom World Championship. “It was always fun for me as a young racer to come to nationals and race guys like Bode [Miller] and Daron [Rahlves]. I’m stoked to be there.”
The four-day event, which will follow the NASTAR National Championships also held at Winter Park, will bring together racers from more than 400 U.S. Ski Team club programs throughout the U.S.
“U.S. championships are always a fun way to close the season,” said three-time Olympian Julia Mancuso. “I’ll definitely be racing everything in Winter Park.”
Also on the roster for nationals is 2011 Europa Cup slalom champ Nolan Kasper. The Vermont native capped his record season with a second-place finish in a World Cup slalom a Kranjska Gora.
“It’s a long season, that’s for sure,” said Kasper, who will be aiming for the coveted golden belt buckle slalom trophy. “But U.S. Champs is a pretty special event. There’s no other way to see where you match up against the other top athletes across the country. Plus our families are all there and the coaches from our club programs. It feels like a big reunion.”
The women’s giant slalom will be held Friday, followed by the super G on Saturday and slalom on Sunday.
Friday night also features the opening ceremonies with a presentation of the giant slalom winners, an athlete parade and free music by U.S. Ski Team alum and recording artist Bryon Friedman.
The U.S. downhill champions where determined earlier in February at Aspen, Colo. with Julia Ford earning the women’s crown while Canadian Dustin Cook edged Will Gregorak by two-hundredths of a second for the men’s title.
Check Skiracing.com often during the National Championships for full race coverage.
2011 Putnam U.S. Alpine Championships
Thursday, March 31
Men’s giant slalom
Friday, April 1
Women’s giant slalom
Saturday, April 2
Men’s and women’s super G
Sunday, April 3
Men’s and women’s slalom