Ski cross racing returns to Red Mountain this weekend with the NorAm Cup races on Friday and Saturday for North America’s elite racers. Sunday will feature the Ski Cross Showdown at Red

Ski cross racing returns to Red Mountain this weekend with the NorAm Cup races on Friday and Saturday for North America’s elite racers. Sunday will feature the Ski Cross Showdown at Red

NorAm Cup continues ski cross legacy at Red

NorAm Cup on Friday and Saturday, Ski Cross Showdown on Sunday

Red Mountain’s association with ski cross racing writes another chapter this week when the local resort hosts the Freestyle NorAm Cup event.

Some of the top ski cross in North America will gather at Red for three days of competition, which includes Sunday’s Ski Cross Showdown.

While the NorAm races on Friday and Saturday will feature the rising stars on the ski cross circuit, Sunday’s Ski Cross Showdown will be an opportunity for all ages of skiers to test their skills on the Red track.

It’s all part of Red Mountain’s ever-increasing role in support of the growing sport.

“Canadians are the best ski cross athletes in the world and all the great results and hype are turning on a new generation of racers,” explained Red Mountain Resort general manager Erik Kalacis, who served as Chief of Competition for the Olympic ski cross event in Vancouver,

For those unfamiliar with the sport, a ski cross event features qualifying races followed by heat races between four skiers. The top two advance to the next round until the final heat.

The athletes race down a tight winding track, which features jumps and bumps and several opportunities for lead changes.

For those unfamiliar with Red Mountain’s role in the growth of the sport, the resort has been a training ground for the past three years.

Last year, Japanese, Australian and French skiers trained at Red in preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

In 2009, the resort hosted the B.C. ski cross championship and in 2008 the inaugural Canadian championship.

That first championship saw Chris Del Bosco win the men’s competition and Kelsey Serwa finish second among the women. At the 2010 Olympics, Del Bosco finished fourth overall and Serwa was fifth in the women’s race.

Then last month in Park City, Utah, Del Bosco and Serwa both captured gold at the 2011 FIS Freestyle World Championships.

Although Del Bosco and Serwa are still on the World Cup circuit in Europe, the field of racers will include many of the leaders on the NorAm circuit including Canadians Catriona Blair and Sarah Lepine, currently numbers one and three respectively in the standings. On the men’s draw,  Tristan Tafel and Robert Lepine, the op two on the circuit have registered.

Kalacis said Red’s reputation on the ski cross circuit actually allowed the resort to secure a World Cup date but organizers decided to pass on it this season.

“This decision was made due to the challenging economic climate for securing large sponsorship dollars needed to host a World Cup.

“Also snowmaking would be necessary to ensure the preparation of an Olympic-size course with large snow features.”

He added snowmaking ability will be essential if Red Mountain hopes to expanded its ability to host and train elite athletes in a variety of alpine disciplines from ski racing to snowboarding.

However, the races will have an Olympic feel to it with much of the netting, shaping tools, course equipment and start games coming to Red as part of the Olympic legacy equipment.

The NorAm races begin Friday and Saturday at 11 a.m. with the qualifying runs followed by the finals beginning at 1 p.m.

Sunday’s Ski Cross Showdown will feature categories for kids (eight-to-12-years-old), juniors (13-to-15), youth (16-to-18), adult (18-to-40) and masters (over-40).

Training goes from 9:30 a.m. to noon with racing beginning at 12:30 p.m.