By Cameron Sawyer
Competition begins Thursday, Nov. 16, for world-class skiers who are assembled for the 15th annual America’s Opening World Cup ski competition in Park City.
This year’s competition is unique because it is a test event for next years 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
“This will be the last chance the international racers will have to ski here before the Olympics. It will be particularly interesting because the giant slalom will be held here,” said Tom Kelly, vice president of public relations for the U.S. Ski Team.
At a press conference Wednesday in Park City, Mitt Romney, president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, said this year’s world cup will be used as a test event to prepare for the Olympic Games.
“All of our result systems will be tested during the event. We will also be bringing in some 500 volunteers to train them for the Games,” Romney said.
Melissa O’Brien, communications manager for Park City Ski Resort, said Park City has been working hard with the SLOC to prepare them for the Games.
“We have been working with them on everything from the press room to setting up the race-courses,” O’Brien said.
This year’s race has also been receiving and will continue to receive more media coverage than usual, she said.
“There is much more media attention this year,” O’Brien said. “This is the last test event here before the games.”
Park City has been chosen to host the World Cup each year due to the quality of the resort and its artificial snow making capabilities, O’Brien said.
Even though Park City has been dumped on by heavy snowfall this year, the resort will cover the courses with artificial snow, she said.
“Artificial snow is the surface racers preference because they can go faster,” O’Brien said.
Paul Robbins, media representative for the United States Ski Association, said Utahns are fortunate to have the World Cup in Park City each year.
“The field you see here are all the top skiers,” Robbins said. “These racers will be in the Games next year.”
The World Cup opens Thursday at 10 a.m. with the women’s giant slalom and ends Saturday afternoon with the men’s slalom.
General admission tickets can be purchased for $5 dollars at the Park City First Time Ticket Office on race days.
More information can be found on Park City’s Web site at www.parkcitymountain.com.