Free-skiers coming to town

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The Steamboat Ski Area will be the center of the free-skiing movement when the resort hosts the third annual Ultimate Bumps and Jumps.

The competitive events will be limited to Friday, but Doug La Placa, director of marketing for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., expects the response to the events to spread across several days.

Professional photographers, editors and athletes will converge on Steamboat beginning Thursday for several photo shoots, parties and forums that will surround Friday's competitions.

"This is a big deal for Steamboat," La Placa said. "We've hosted Bumps and Jumps events in the past, but this will be the first time we've hosted the entire free-skiing industry at the same time. Steamboat will be the epicenter of free-skiing this week."

The events will draw media representatives from Freeskier Magazine, Level 1 Productions, Teton Gravity Research, Michael Martin Productions, Flight Plan Films and Warren Miller Entertainment.

In addition to the media exposure, marketing representatives from Rossignol will be on hand shooting promotional spots for next ski season and top judges and athletes from the free-skiing world will hold forums designed to keep the sport moving forward.

The list of top free skiers will include C.R. Johnson, Simon Dumont, Pep Fujas, Candide Thovax, Henrik Windstedt, T.J. Schiller, Peter Olenick and Rory Bushfield.

Tanner Hall, one of the biggest names in the sport, hasn't committed to being here. However, La Placa said he thinks Hall will compete.

"One day he is coming, the next day we don't know. That's how it is in free-skiing right now," La Placa said. "These guys are going so hard, and to so many places that it's hard to pin them down and get them to compete. They're kind of like rock stars."

However, La Placa said Monday that he is confident that Hall will be in the field of elite skiers who compete in Friday's main events.

Sage Cattabriga and Kristi Leskinen, members of the Rossignol Pro Team, will be in town but are not expected to compete.

The Ultimate Bumps and Jumps will blend three events into one prime-time show, which will air at 3 p.m. Dec. 26 on CBS.

The actual competition will include the quarterpipe event at Bashor Bowl starting at 10 a.m. Friday. There will be a free mogul event, which blends traditional mogul skiing with rails and other more new-age obstacles, starting at 1 p.m.

That night, the events will move to Gondola Square for the Jabra Rail Jam. The event will begin at 7 p.m. immediately after the first SoBe Friday Night Jib Jam.

That event, which runs from 6 to 7 p.m., will feature local and regional free riders competing for the chance to ride with the pros later in the evening.

The skiers will have a chance to pick up prize money in each event, and one skier will be crowned the overall champion for the best all-around performance after the rail jam.

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