The FIS World Champs in Park City: Events, scheduling and more
This is going to be big.
The last time Park City, Utah, set its sights on a sporting event the size of the 2019 FIS Freeski, Freestyle and Snowboard World Championships, it changed the physical landscape of Summit County – including the construction of Kimball Junction, and, to the south of the I-80 exit expansion, the carving out of a corridor in a hillside to accommodate ski jumping.
U.S. Ski and Snowboard is calling the championships the largest sporting event in Utah since th 2002 Winter Olympics. The event, all of which is free to attend, is scheduled for Feb. 1 through 10, with opening ceremonies at Park City Mountain’s Canyons Village on Feb. 2, including fireworks.
While the World Championships doesn’t require new, permanent infrastructure, it will still be a massive logistical undertaking, drawing 1,500 athletes and coaching staff to events assembled by thousands of workers and volunteers.
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The World Championships are held every other year, often with different World Championship events and locations for different sports – for example, alpine skiing is not lumped in with freeskiing – and offer athletes a chance at prizes, sponsorships and international glory.
“Millions of people will be tuning in around the world to see some of the most famous names in winter sports compete for World Championship glory,” said Tom Webb, chief spokesman for U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “All those factors combined can only be good news for Park City and the state of Utah.”
And while the World Championships experience will be reminiscent of the 2002 Winter Games, with a festival atmosphere interspersed with entertainment and musicians, it will be distinctly more forward-looking in its events. The 2002 Olympics showcased a broad collection of winter sports, but the World Championships will focus mainly on what’s new.
When Salt Lake hosted the Winter Games, freestyle skiing and snowboarding were limited to two events each per gender – parallel giant slalom and halfpipe in snowboarding, and aerials and moguls in skiing.
Since then, inversions have been legalized in moguls, and skiing has followed snowboarding in style, abandoning the Daffies and Cossacks of yesteryear for a cornucopia of new-school grabs.
Even the oldest sports coming to the Park City area have only been held at an Olympic level since the ’90s, and athletes will be bringing their most advanced tricks to town.
Skiing and snowboarding slopestyle, pipe and big air
The World Champs’ leading edges are perhaps best exemplified in freeskiing and snowboarding events, in which athletes perform tricks emphasizing grabs and spins in front of judges.
The skiing halfpipe and slopestyle competitions have been held at the Olympic level for just eight years, and skiing big air, which hasn’t yet debuted at the Olympics, will make its first World Championship appearance at the Canyons in Park City on Feb. 2.
Park City will likely have several local athletes competing in freeskiing events, with Devin Logan, Brita Sigourney, McRae Williams (2017 slopestyle World Champion), Joss Christensen and Alex Hall either qualified or in the running.
The snowboarding competitions are similarly new, having expanded their Olympic repertoire from two to five events since 1998, and will likely be some of the most popular, if not the most popular events of the competition.
While Summit County hasn’t produced the same caliber of competitive snowboarders as it has skiers, American spectators will likely find common ground in rooting for superstars like Chloe Kim, Jamie Anderson and the newly-minted Red Gerard.
Snowboarding and feeskiing events will all be held at Park City Mountain.
Big air will be at Canyons Village on Doc’s Run. Slopestyle events will be held on the Park City side on Pick N Shovel and the pipe events will be held at Eagle Superpipe. Pick N Shovel and Eagle Superpipe run parallel to each other at the bottom of the main base area of Park City Mountain.
Aerials, one of the original freestyle events, is also flying into new territory.
On Feb. 7, athletes will compete in the World Championship debut of team aerials at Deer Valley Resort’s Owl Run.
The traditional aerials finals is scheduled for Feb. 6 on the same course. Both events are judged, in which athletes fly off high-angle jumps to complete multiple spins and flips in a single jump. Think bit air but with a bigger focus on traditional gymnastic acrobatics.
The World Championship titles currently belong to Americans Jon Lillis and Ashley Caldwell, who train, along with the rest of the U.S. aerials national team, in Park City.
Those events can be watched by parking at Deer Valley’s Snowpark Lodge, and riding lifts up to the finish areas.
Snowboardcross and skicross, in which groups of athletes race down a course that features drops, ramps and jumps, made their Olympic debuts in 2006 and 2010 respectively. Solitude, the host for those events at the World Championships, held a Grand Prix and World Cup event in 2017.
Snowboardcross finals will held on Feb. 1, followed by Skicross finals on Feb. 2. Both will run down Wall Street and Main Street runs.
The U.S. is fielding three Olympic medal winners in Seth Wescott, Alex Diebold and Lindsay Jacobellis (2017 World Champion), plus seven-time X Games winner Nate Champion.
France’s Pierre Vaultair will be one to watch, having taken the gold in Sochi and Pyeongchang, as well as the 2017 World Championships.
The FIS isn’t adding any new moguls events, but the competitions should have a tremendous draw.
Deer Valley’s World Cups are marked as a high point in the moguls season among athletes because of the quality of course and accommodations as well as the tight-knit corps of volunteers that run the competition.
It’s a historic place, where competitor Jonny Moseley forced the FIS the reexamine the rules of the sport when he threw the dinner roll, which skirted the FIS rules banning inversions by using a corkscrew rotation. The FIS changed the rules to allow inversions the next season.
Last season’s Deer Valley World Cup was also momentous. It marked the point when Canadian Mikael Kingsbury earned the title of winningest freestyle skier in history, with 48 World Cup wins.
In the women’s competition, Jaelin Kauf of Wyoming split wins over the two-day competition with France’s Perrine Laffont, who went on to win the Olympic gold.
Kauf no doubt will seek to show her quality on Deer Valley’s Champion run again on Feb. 8, and will also be excited to compete in dual moguls on Feb. 9, which she took bronze in at the 2017 World Championships.
Moguls is both a timed and judged sport. Athletes are judged on their skiing technique and the tricks they perform off of two jumps, which is added to their timed run down the slope.
Spectators can see that course from the same area as the aerials competition.
For more information and a detailed schedule of events, go to 2019worldchamps.com.
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