Friday, November 30, 2007

Ski Tour gears up for Round 2

Sun Valley dates set for March 14-16

Express Staff Writer

The success of last winter's Ski Tour & Base Camp Music Experience has evolved into a new partnership with the 15-year-old Jeep King of the Mountain Series.

Though the tour has a new name and sponsor, its format will be similar to last year's.

This year the tour will begin in Telluride, Colo., from Dec. 14 through Dec. 16, and includes Squaw Valley, Calif., from Feb. 8 through Feb. 10, and Sun Valley, from March 14 through March 16.

"We were originally trying to go to Park City, Utah, and at the last minute they pulled out," said Ski Tour founder Kipp Nelson. "It's OK because we can make each of the stops bigger."

Nelson said the tour consolidated the events for Park City into both Squaw Valley and Sun Valley, which will now feature more events.

The new Jeep King of the Mountain Series plans to bring together elite winter-sports athletes, including Olympians, world champions and national champions, competing in four-competitor ski-cross and snowboard-cross events sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee for both men and women.

Nelson said he hopes the series can become an Olympic-qualifying event. Snowboard-cross was introduced as an Olympic event in Italy in 2006, and ski-cross will be included for the first time at Whistler, B.C., in 2010.

"It is all being worked out at the moment," he said. "What is happening is that American athletes don't want to follow the same program as the alpine racers where they have to spend most of their time in Europe."

Though the tour has only recently posted a new Web site,, athletes have been signing up quickly. Nelson said many athletes knew about the tour from last year and news of the new arrangement spread quickly.

"Curtis Bacca, who owns the Waxroom, was very plugged in and spearheaded getting the word out to athletes," he said.

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Along with the extreme snow-sports competitions of ski-cross, snowboard-cross, ski and snowboard pipe, the tour's party scene will be reminiscent of last year with street parties and concerts. This year the tour plans to celebrate mountain culture not only through fashion shows, film and photography exhibits, but also with an environmental symposium and other cross-cultural initiatives.

"We realized that we've got a very good platform from which to talk about the environment," Nelson said. "By having all the television time and organized events, there is not a better way to talk about the environment and the snow melting everywhere."

Nelson said a firm from Newport Beach, Calif., is working on "greening" the tour.

"It's all great to have sports events, music and parties, but we want to represent more than that and have something a little more serious that balances out all the fun." Nelson said.

The Telluride stop of the Jeep King of the Mountain Series will be televised to a nationally broadcast audience on Dec. 29 and Jan. 12 on CBS Sports. Air dates for the remaining event sites will be announced later.

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