Aspen to host IPC Snowboard World Cup

By Katie Branham | Jan. 09, 2015, 6:24 p.m. (ET)

Evan Strong
Paralympic gold medalist Evan Strong, pictured at the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games, will look for his first world cup victory of the season in Aspen

Team USA will enjoy the hometown advantage as Aspen, Colorado hosts the International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing Snowboard World Cup from Jan. 12-13. The event is supported by The Hartford.

While snowboarding enjoyed its Paralympic debut in Sochi, the sport continues to grow to include additional sport classes and disciplines. Aspen will feature the first world cup head-to-head snowboard-cross competition. Athletes will race two-by-two on Tuesday, after an individual round of competition on Monday.

Other changes to the sport, including the banked slalom competition and the split of the LL1 and LL2 lower-limb impairment classes, were unveiled at the world cup opener in Landgraff, Netherlands in November.

The world cup will also serve as a de facto reunion of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games as all six medalists will meet for the first time since the Games.

On the men’s side, gold medalist Evan Strong (Maui, Hawaii), silver medalist Mike Shea (Castaic, California) and bronze medalist Keith Gabel (Ogden, Utah) will face-off in the men’s LL2 classification.

Mike Schultz (St. Cloud, Minnesota) is a newcomer to the U.S. Paralympics National Snowboard Team and will look to continue the success from his international debut in Landgraff, where he won the men’s LL1 banked slalom.

When asked what he attributed his sudden success to, Schulz explained that he draws on the experience he has from racing snowmobiles as a professional snocross athlete since 2004.

“I know how to set goals, prepare, train, read racing lines and really pay attention to the details that allow me to be the best athlete I can be,” Schultz said. “I have also been able to work with some of the best coaches in the sport, the guys with Adaptive Action Sports, and now with the U.S. Paralympics Snowboard Team.”

From the women’s national team, Paralympian Nicole Roundy (Bountiful, Utah) and newcomer Brenna Huckaby (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) will compete in the LL1 class.

Roundy spent the off-season preparing for the changes in competition through multiple avenues.

“There have been a lot of changes for our sport this summer, and I think those changes will present new challenges and I want to be prepared to take those on,” Roundy said. “Often times all we see is an athlete running a course or winning a race, but away from the snow is the personal training, the nutritionist, the sports psychiatry, and the hours and hours spent in the prosthetic lab. I'm grateful for every moment that I can dedicate to being a better rider, and I'm grateful for all of the people standing in my corner.”

Heidi Jo Duce (Ouray, Colorado) will look for her first world cup podium of the season after finishing second in the LL2 banked slalom Europa Cup competition in Landgraff in November.

With so many changes in the sport of snowboarding, the U.S. athletes are sure to enjoy the familiar venue that a U.S.-hosted world cup provides.

“Having a world cup on our home turf means that we can showcase the potential of the U.S. athletes by building a course that matches the ability of our riders,” Shea said. “It also means that we can have the support of friends and family while racing so close to home.”

For more information on the IPC Alpine Skiing Snowboard World Cup, visit Paralympics.org