The country's top Alpine ski racers will be competing through Tuesday at Squaw Valley USA, site of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games, when the resort hosts the 2002 Chevy Truck U.S. Alpine Championships.
It is the final and most prestigious U.S. racing event of the 2001-2002 ski season. America's best will compete for the national title and bragging rights in downhill, super G, and giant slalom at Squaw Valley while nearby Sugar Bowl Resort will host the slalom events.
Following closely on the heels of the Closing Ceremonies of the 2002 WinterOlympic Games, this annual competition matches the best world-class U.S. Ski Team athletes with hundreds of aspiring U.S. racers, giving the up-and-comers a chance to measure themselves against the varsity.
The entire U.S Team is expected to attend, giving spectators an opportunity to see world-class and well-known local athletes and Olympians such as Squaw Valley's Marco Sullivan and Julia Mancuso and Heavenly's Jonna Mendes in action.
This series has been a rite of passage for many young racers for over 65 years and is considered the highest level of domestic ski racing.
Ten races are scheduled for this season's championship, with the downhill, super G and giant slalom events taking place on Squaw Valley's KT-22 Olympic course.
The men's and women's slalom events will take place at the nearby Sugar Bowl on Sunday. Athletes will be competing on Sugar Bowl's recently developed state of the art race arena.
The combined trophy, consisting of results from the downhill and slalom events will be awarded following the slalom Sunday evening at the awards banquet.
Competitors at this season's championship event will be racing not only for national pride but also for more than $50,000 in prize money. For each championship event first place finishers will walk away with $3,000, second place $1,500 and third place $750. In the combined event $2,500 will be awarded to first place, $1,250 to second and $600 to third.
Also part of the weeklong competition is the annual "Return of the Champions" event, which pits current U.S. Ski Team members against several "legends" from past Olympics, including Squaw Valley's 1960 Games in a dual slalom race.
The championships will be televised nationally on ESPN and are scheduled to air on April 7. A one-hour, nationally syndicated program featuring the Return of the Champions event will run between October and December 2002 on ESPN.
2002 Chevy Truck U.S. Alpine Championships Tentative Schedule:
Friday -- women's Super G, 10 a.m.
Saturday -- men's Super G, 9 a.m., Return of the Champions, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday at Sugar Bowl -- men's/women's Slalom, 9 a.m. women's first run, 11 a.m., men's first run, 12:30 p.m., women's second run, 2 p.m., men's second run.
Monday -- women's giant slalom, 10 a.m. first run, 12 p.m. second run.
Tuesday -- men's giant slalom, 9:30 a.m. first run, 12 p.m. second run.
If you're going to Squaw for the events, you can now combine a day on the slopes with a dip in a high altitude swimming pool and jacuzzi. Squaw will open the High Camp Swimming Lagoon and Spa on Saturday, weather permitting.
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., use of the pool and spa is $8 if guests have a lift ticket and $21 adults and $10 children 12 and under for a cable car ride and swim ticket. From April 1 through the end of the ski season, Squaw Valley will offer complimentary use of the swimming lagoon and spa with the purchase of all daily lift tickets. Call (530) 583-6985.
If you're considering buying new snowsport gear as the season winds down, you'll want to be at Diamond Peak Sunday for the Village Loft Demo Day. Much of the new gear will be yours for the testing. If you test skis, remember after the third run on new skis you've already adjusted to the changes so stop after two runs. And you might want to keep notes so you remember what fit you best. Remember, there are no "bad" skis on the market, just a mismatch now and then between ski and skier.
HOMEWOOD MOUNTAIN RESORT
On Wednesday lift tickets are just $15, that day only. Homewood has a lot to offer and $15 for a day is hard to beat.
Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.