It’s official: Ski Tour gets USSA approval |

It’s official: Ski Tour gets USSA approval

Aspen Times Staff
Local Casey Puckett, right, soars off a roller ahead of Eric Andersson, Jake Fiala and Brett Fischer during a men's skiercross semifinal at the Winter Gravity Games at Copper Mountain in March 2005. (Aspen Times file)

Aspen, CO ColoradoWith its $500,000 prize purse, the new four-stop Honda Ski Tour has attracted a notable batch of former World Cup skiers for skiercross, including local Casey Puckett, a four-time Olympian.Now the tour also has Olympic approval.

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, the national governing body for Olympic skiing and snowboarding, has sanctioned the tour’s skiercross events. The designation requires the event to comply with USSA rules, which mirror International Ski Federation rules, under the direction of an approved competition jury and officials.The tour, which features men’s skiercross and halfpipe, kicks off this weekend in Sun Valley, Idaho. Snowmass hosts the third tour stop, Feb. 22-25.

The International Olympic Committee added skiercross as the newest Olympic sport in late November after the successful debut of boardercross at the Turin Winter Olympics in February.”The Ski Tour is a very high-profile series in the newest Olympic event of [skiercross], and we applaud tour organizers for taking steps to manage the series to international standards,” said USSA Chief Operating Officer Dick Coe. “It’s important with such a high-level series that it follows the same international standards as the World Cup, World Championships and, ultimately, the Olympics. That standard will be very important for elite athletes as the sport grows in popularity over the next few years.”

Puckett, who won gold in skiercross at the 2004 Winter X Games and the 2005 Gravity Games, will be competing against former U.S. teammates, Daron Rahlves and Zach Crist, as well as action sports legend Shaun Palmer and two-time World Cup skiercross champion Tomas Kraus. In halfpipe, Carbondale local Peter Olenick joins a who’s who of skiers, including defending Winter X Games halfpipe champion Tanner Hall and 2005 champion Simon Dumont.For more information, check out http://www.theskitour.