X Games qualifier, Ultra-Cross going big with regional interest | TahoeDailyTribune.com

X Games qualifier, Ultra-Cross going big with regional interest

A chance to compete in the 2003 X Games without having to qualify through an official series is generating a lot of excitement, especially with riders hoping for home-turf advantage.

The fourth annual 2003 Paul Mitchell X-Qualifier on Wednesday and Thursday at Northstar-at-Tahoe is the only official skier and boardercross qualifier for the X Games.

X Games event organizers Global Event Management says that due to the lack of large-scale boardercross events in the U.S. and a demand from hopeful competitors, the qualifier ensures that the top riders — regardless of self promotion or position within pro tours — have a chance to enter.

The top four men and women snowboarders and skiers earn berths into the X Games, which are considered as prestigious as the Olympics in many circles.

“The X Games is like the original big-time, television show-type of event. Before this, there wasn’t anything this big as far as television goes,” said Danny Sheehan, 25, a competitor from South Lake Tahoe.

Many riders say the X Games have favored the elitist in its qualification procedures, precluding some of the best riders in the country because they couldn’t afford self promotion or couldn’t attend all of the pro series events. Now, the event is more attainable.

“We’re stoked to finally get the chance to go for it without having to do the series,” said Brady Gunsch, a snowboard instructor and competitor. “It’s a great opportunity.”

Still, the $15,000 cash purse provided with the sixth annual Paul Mitchell Ultra-Cross, which also takes place at Northstar this weekend, will draw even more competitors.

The Ultra-Cross pairs up skiers and snowboarders in a unique format that combines the two disciplines in consecutive timed runs.

The event will be televised on Fox Sports Network on Feb. 7 at 3:30 p.m. in all time zones.

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