Athletes excited to vie for 2022 Olympics at Copper Mountain qualifying events
FRISCO — It’s a big deal to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. It’s an even bigger deal to hear the cheers of your closest friends and family while suspended in air doing a frontside 1080.
This is what local winter sports athletes will come to expect with the return of Winter Dew Tour and the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain Resort in December. After being canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced Tuesday that both events will not only return to Copper, but also serve as qualifiers for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
The Grand Prix will host halfpipe skiers and snowboarders from Dec. 9-11. The event will be followed by Dew Tour, which takes place Dec. 16-19 and features halfpipe and slopestyle competitions as well as men’s and women’s snowboard adaptive competitions. Both promise representation from Summit County and Colorado athletes.
These two Olympic qualifying events allow for athletes to have the chance to compete in order to score enough points and make a statement as to why they should be named to the U.S. Olympic team that will be traveling to China in February.
Unlike the Summer Olympics, where teams are decided through the Olympic trials, U.S. skiers and snowboarders in the halfpipe and freeski competitions must garner enough International Ski Federation points through Olympic-qualifying events to be considered. In order to be eligible for the Olympics, an athlete must have a minimum of 50 FIS points.
One of the athletes who hopes to contend for a spot on the Olympic team is halfpipe freeskier Jaxin Hoerter of Breckenridge.
“It was originally unclear whether we would have the opportunity to have these two qualifiers due to the ongoing pandemic, so having these events on the schedule allows for us to have more chances to make a contention for Beijing,” Hoerter said.
Hoerter also expressed excitement for the atmosphere at the Grand Prix and Dew Tour events.
“Back in 2018, it was really cool to see my people — who can’t always make it out to my competitions — out on the mountain cheering me on,” Hoerter said. “The memory of this is still a very special moment for me and is something that I continue to cherish.”
Dillon resident Chase Blackwell, who is originally from Longmont, also has plans to soak in the energy and make his mark at these events.
“The Copper Mountain halfpipe is my home pipe,” Blackwell said. “It’s where I do my training for the majority of the season, so having these two Olympic qualifiers to kick things off will be super exciting.”
Being from Longmont also will allow some of Blackwell’s friends to travel up Interstate 70 to see him compete.
“It will be super easy for all my close friends and family to come up to watch the event, so I am excited to compete in front of them,” Blackwell said.
According to a news release from Dew Tour, snowboarders Shaun White and Julia Marino, as well as skiers Maggie Voisin, Alex Hall and Aspen’s Alex Ferreira are scheduled to compete alongside local talent.
Both events will be free and open to the public.
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