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World’s Best Compete In Telluride!!

This week Lower Misty Maiden will see some of its most epic action of the year with the World Cup Ski and Snowboardcross competition.

With both ski and snowboardcross events planned, the competition will be broadcast on NBC, and Telluride will be hosting some of the world’s best. Skiers and snowboarders will be competing for some of the top positions in their disciplines, and though Telluride is an early stop, it could be a defining one.

The skiing side of the competition kicks off Wednesday with ski cross qualification rounds starting at 9 a.m. After qualifications, the main ski competition begins Thursday with men’s and ladies’ quarter, semi and final races throughout the morning starting at 10:22 a.m. Awards will be presented following the finals.

As for the snowboardcross, men’s and ladies’ qualifications start Thursday at 1:30 p.m. The main snowboardcross is set to start Friday, beginning with men’s and ladies’ finals at 1 p.m. followed by awards at 2:20 p.m. On Saturday, team snowboardcross events begin at 1 p.m. and awards will be presented starting at 2:20 p.m.

According to Telluride Ski & Golf Communications Director Tom Watkinson, the event will bring more than 300 people into the area, including athletes, teams and support staff. He said this is the fourth year that the World Cup has come to the Telluride Ski Resort, and it should be a good event with a great course.

“It’s great that we’ve got this dual event at the same time,” Watkinson said. “We’ve got a great course out there, and we put on an amazing event. But we’ve got to get as many spectators as possible — it’s a great spectator sport.”

Included in the lineup is one of Telluride’s own, snowboarder Hagen Kearney, who is fresh off the World Cup circuit in Austria. Kearney said he is excited to be back to Telluride and has high hopes to get some good results in the snowboardcross events.

“[The course] is probably going to be a similar layout to past years — so yeah, I think it should be pretty familiar,” Kearney said. “It should be pretty easy to grasp this year.”

Kearney earned seventh place in snowboardcross in Montafon, Austria, on Friday, and he thinks the experience was a good one to get the season rolling.

“It was super fun,” Kearney said. “I just went over there, and you never know what to expect for the first World Cup. I felt strong and the first day I ended up seventh in the team event. I qualified in the top six, so I was in a pretty good spot. Basically the first day I dialed in the course and next day I had the course under my belt.”

It was full-on winter in Austria, as Kearney reported plenty of snowfall, but up in Mountain Village, the season is just getting started. Though most of the snow on the World Cup course is manmade, snowfall this past weekend and Monday could make things more manageable.

“There hasn’t been a lot of snow and it’s been getting pretty cold in Telluride,” Kearney said. “The courses are going to be super hard and firm. So definitely a little scary — so hopefully we get enough fresh snow to soften things up a little bit, that’s my only worry.”

If Kearney does well this week, he could qualify to compete in the World Championships set to take place in Stoneham, Quebec, Jan. 15-27. Kearney was named to the U.S. Snowboarding Team in June.

Crews have been building the World Cup course on Lower Misty Maiden for about a week and officials hope the television exposure will bring some recognition to the area.

For those who want to catch the World Cup on television, NBC will broadcast the ski and snowboardcross Dec. 22 from 3 to 4 p.m. It will be broadcast live in Europe.

vimeo.com/33885178

By Collin McRann
Staff Reporter
Telluride Daily Planet