No need to go to ski country to see some of the hottest freestyle skiers and snowboarders in the world flash their tricks. If you've walked by Civic Center Park since Governor Hickenlooper's inaugural ceremony, you no doubt noticed the 106-foot-high ramp. It's being built and covered with snow for the Denver Big Air two-day international ski and snowboard competition, Jan. 25-26. Presented by Sprint, the competition kicks off Mile High Snowfest and the annual SnowSports Industries America Snow Show.
The first event, The Nature Valley Big Air Freestyle Ski on Tues., Jan. 25, is being billed as the Battle of the Brands. Teams of three riders representing some of the most recognizable brands in the ski industry, including Nordica, Marker-Volkl, Head, Icelantic, K2 and Technica Blizzard, will fight their way through five rounds of head-to-head competition to see who can execute the aerial tricks that hold the highest levels of difficulty. Zipping down the ramp's 44-degree pitch and taking off from the kicker, they can reach heights of up to 60 feet off the ground before landing back on the ramp. There will be a team winner, and judges will award a “Best Trick” prize.
The LG FIS World Cup Snowboard Big Air, Wed., Jan. 26, is a World Cup sanctioned event that will showcase an international roster of the top male snowboarders from around the globe. Denver is the first U.S. host city for a World Cup Snowboard Big Air event.
National recording artists Switchfoot and One Republic will appear on the Bud Light stage.
Discount tickets for Examiner.com readers
The buzz around town has been the high cost of the tickets, because general admission tickets for each event start at $45. But, if you click on www.denverbigair.com and put "Examiner" in the promo code box, you'll get a discount. With the promo code an individual ticket for the Nature Valley Challenge Big Air Freestyle Ski Event or a ticket to the LG FIS World Cup Snowboard Big Air will cost $29.99. A family ticket (two adults, two kids) is $99. These tickets will let you stand around the base of the ramp. (Of course, if you prefer not to pay and want to see the aerial tricks, the ramp is so high you should be able to find a partially obstructed view from nearby streets.) Spring for the VIP ticket and you'll get a prime views from seats on the steps of the City & County Building and access to the Whole Foods Hospitality Village.
Will you see famous athletes competing?
Exactly which well-known freestyle skiers and snowboarders will show up is still a big question mark, because the ESPN Winter X Games in Aspen start on the 27th. Sue Baldwin, director of business development at Metro Denver Sports Commission, said the Games coming so close after this event has had an effect, but the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association "has gone to great length to mitigate it for us. The USSA has tried to do as much as possible to make athletes able to do both." This may turn out to be a big chance for lesser-known skilled athletes to show their tricks, because the competition will be aired on TV.
Participating brands are finalizing their rosters of athletes. The impetus for the head-to-head battle between the sport's leading brands was triggered in part by the chance to show off brands from companies coming to the SnowSports Industries America Snow Show, which opens in the Denver Convention Center on Thurs., Jan. 27.
“The tricks that the athletes in the ‘Battle of the Brands’ will pull off are as world-class as the brands they are representing,” said KieAnn Brownell, president of the Denver Sports Commission. “This will be a great competition and fans will see these athletes do things on a pair of skis that are unimaginable.”