CBS-televised Jeep series event coming to Heavenly
By Jeremy Evans
Tribune staff writer
After a seven-year hiatus, the Jeep King of the Mountain Series is returning to Heavenly Ski Resort, one of four venues that will host events in the 2004-05 Skiing and Snowboarding World Championships.
The race series, which originally began as a downhill event, made a stop at Heavenly in 1995-96, but this will mark the first time it comes to the South Shore in its new, two-race format that combines both skiers and snowboarders.
“We’ve been wanting to get back to Heavenly for many years,” said Denise Lavaroni, vice president of events for Eclipse Television, the management company responsible for scheduling the four-part series. “They’ve always impressed the heck of out of us. They have a top-notch race department and it’s a great venue for spectators. It can be a complicated process because you’re trying to figure out the CBS television schedule, the athletes’ schedule and the resort’s schedule. It’s kind of like making pieces of the puzzles fit. This year, the planets kind of aligned for us.”
The first stop is Nov. 27-28 at Telluride, Colo., Ski Resort, with a stop in December at Snowbird, Utah, and one in January at Mount Snow, Vt., before arriving on the South Shore on Feb. 5-6. Eclipse Television is required to secure a stop in each of the country’s four largest ski destinations. The past few years, Squaw Valley USA on the North Shore been one of the series’ venues.
Since Telluride and Heavenly will have both men’s and women’s ski and snowboard events, both resorts will receive two hours of nationally televised coverage on CBS. Snowbird and Mount Snow will have only one race with an hour of CBS coverage.
“We are always excited to have a great event such as this,” said Heavenly spokesperson Molly Cuffe. “Just the fact that it will bring a TV audience is obviously an added value for us. We always have one big freestyle event for skiers and snowboarders. This definitely goes with our history and hopefully we keep it going in the future.”
The event, which will be held above California Lodge, will include an innovative race course known as “The Y.” Skiers and boarders will start on separate giant slalom courses, then about a third of the way down the course, the parallel courses merge into one that will include skier and boardercross terrain features such as rollers and banked turns before crossing the same finish line.
Clamoring over more than $450,000 in prize money will be 16 teams of two (one male and one female) that will compete in the ski and snowboard combined events. There will also be 12 invited teams (six ski, six snowboard) from the around the world, representing the United States, Austria, Canada, France, Germany and Switzerland. The remaining teams will be determined by a National Open Qualifier that will be held on each event weekend.
“It’s basically a showcase for Heavenly,” Lavaroni said. “It will be two hours of picture-postcard images of Lake Tahoe and Heavenly. We’ve been on the North Shore the past few years and we have a great relationship with Squaw, but we wanted to get back to the South Shore.”
For more information on the Jeep King of the Mountain Series, visit http://www.jeepsports.com.