Big air Olympic qualifier is coming to Steamboat Resort in early December
Steamboat Pilot & Today
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Olympic hopefuls will flock to Steamboat Resort for the Visa Big Air competition this December. Slopestyle freeski athletes and freestyle snowboarders will compete Dec. 2 to 4 at the Park Smalley Freestyle Complex in what will be the only big air qualifying event for the 2022 Olympics.
Freeski big air is making its Olympic debut at Beijing 2022, while snowboard big air is making its second Olympic appearance.
“We love working with U.S. Ski and Snowboard teams and it was an awesome opportunity when they reached out,” Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. communications manager Maren Franciosi said. “We were happy to get on board and work with them. Of course, we always enjoy hosting events like this. Our Olympic heritage and roots run deep so it makes a lot of sense for us to host events like this.”
There will be designated space for spectators, who must reach the venue by skiing or boarding from the Christie Peak Express chairlift.
Action kicks off that Thursday, Dec. 2, with snowboard big air qualifying heats at 9:55 a.m. The men will have two heats of qualifications, while the women will have one.
The same format will repeat for the skiers beginning at 9:55 a.m. on Dec. 3. Saturday, Dec. 4, will be the finals starting with snowboarding at 9:30 a.m. and skiing at 1 p.m. Following Saturday’s finals will be a free concert featuring Ozomatli at the stage in Steamboat Square.
Those who qualify for the Olympics in big air must compete in slopestyle as well. Generally, athletes already compete in both.
The Visa Big Air competition is the only big air qualifier, but there are three other slopestyle qualifiers. The cumulative ranking in the four events help determine some of the Team USA selections.
“It’s exciting to watch the athletes that are on their way to the Winter Games compete here right in front of us,” Franciosi said. “We’re watching history be made, right here.”
In the 2018 Olympics, American Jamie Anderson took second in Pyeongchang, South Korea, behind Austria’s Anna Gasser. Three other Americans finished in the top 15.
In the men’s snowboard big air competition, American Kyle Mack earned silver as Canadian snowboarder Sebastien Toutant took gold. Chris Corning and Red Gerard, both out of Colorado, finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Freeski big air hasn’t yet made its Olympic debut, but it’s been in the X Games. At X Games Aspen 2021, Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland won gold, while Canadian Megan Oldham and Chinese athlete Eileen Gu took second and third. Maggie Voisin, who competes in slopestyle and big air competitions at X Games, will likely be the strongest American skier at the big air competition.
Who will actually show up will be determined a little closer to the event.
Later in the month, Copper Mountain will host a U.S. Grand Prix for freeski and snowboard halfpipe competitions, followed right after by Dew Tour, which is also an Olympic qualifier. In early January, Mammoth Mountain will host a U.S. Grand Prix for halfpipe and slopestyle.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Starting Wednesday, Copper Mountain Resort will serve as host for the 2021 Toyota U.S. Grand Prix. The four-day competition will bring competitive snowboarders and skiers from all over the world to Copper as they try out new tricks in the halfpipe competition.