Bumps and Jumps coming

Free skiing's best athletes will be in Steamboat

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Tanner Hall will be among an elite field of athletes who will bring the world of free skiing back to the Steamboat Ski Area next month as part of the Ultimate Bumps and Jumps.

The event, which was added to the ski area's schedule late this fall, has invited eight of the best free skiers in the world to compete in a superpipe, free moguls and rail jam at the resort Dec. 17.

"This is an incredible field," said Andy Trapp, manager of operations for IMG, which will produce the made-for-television event. "Every one of these guys, except for one or two, has won medals at the X Games."

Headliners Tanner Hall and CR Johnson will join top riders including Pep Fujas, who skied with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, and T.J. Schiller, who won a U.S. Open title last winter. Candide Thovex, Simon Dumont, Pete Olenik and Henrick Weinstedt, round out the elite group of competitors.

This is the second time in three years that Steamboat has hosted an Ultimate Bumps and Jumps. The first time was in December 2002.

This year, the athletes will compete for their share of a $36,000 purse in the superpipe event, which tentatively is scheduled to take place from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Dec. 17 at Mavericks, and the free moguls, which is scheduled for 1 to 2:30 p.m. Both events will take place in the Bashor Bowl.

Later that evening, from 6 to 9 p.m., the top riders will return to the Jabra Rail Jam, which will be held in conjunction with Steamboat's first SoBe Friday Night Jib Jam.

Ski area spokesman Doug La Placa said that, to spectators, the evening session may look like one event. But it is actually two.

The SoBe Friday Night Jib Jam, which will be the first of three scheduled for this winter, is open to invited regional athletes and will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. The top two riders from that event will earn a chance to compete in the Jabra Rail Jam, which will follow from 7 to 9 p.m.

"We are very excited about hosting the Ultimate Bumps and Jumps," La Placa said. "It's a new-school event, and I think it will put us in a stronger light with a younger group of riders."

La Placa thinks drawing that younger generation of riders to Steamboat is key to the resort's future, which is what makes the SoBe Friday Night Jib Jams and bringing Bumps and Jumps back to Steamboat important as well as entertaining.

He realizes that many free skiing fans are too young to purchase airplane tickets to come to Steamboat, but he isn't going to underestimate the younger crowd's pull with their parents or what that group will mean to the ski area a few years down the road.

The Ultimate Bumps and Jumps will air at 3 p.m. Dec. 26 after CBS's coverage of NFL football.

"We feel that the free skiing movement has brought a new excitement to the sport of skiing," La Placa said. "There is no question that free skiers are the future of this sport and this is a great opportunity to showcase it and Steamboat at the same time."

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steambatpilot.com

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