US Snowboarding Grand Prix 2013: Dates, Event Schedule, Top Athletes and More

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIDecember 15, 2013

Jan 26, 2013; Aspen, CO, USA;  Kelly Clark (USA) during the women's superpipe finals at the Winter X Games at Buttermilk Mountain. Mandatory Credit: Paul Bussi-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Bussi-USA TODAY Sports

With the Winter Olympics just around the corner, the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix is a major event. It is the official U.S. Olympic team qualifying series for half-pipe, so the stakes will be high as the three-location series kicks off at Copper Mountain, Colo. on Dec. 16.

The series attracts the best male and female performers in the sport, and this year's version will be no different.

Here's a look at the event schedule for the Grand Prix series, a closer look at the events and two legendary stars to watch.

U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix Schedule
LocationDatesTV Coverage
Copper Mountain, Colo.Dec. 16-22NBC - Dec. 22 - 3 p.m.
Northstar, Calif.Jan. 6-12NBC - Jan. 12 - 1:30 p.m.
Mammoth Mountain Resort, Calif.Jan. 14-19NBC - Jan. 19 - 3 p.m.
U.S.Snowboarding.com

 

The Events

Half-Pipe

Feb 23, 2012; Stoneham, QC, CAN; Shuang Li (CHN) during the Snowboard half-pipe Women's finals at the LG/FIS World Cup at Stoneham. Li won the silver medal. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The structure was popularized for use in skateboarding, but Dough Waugh invented the Pipe Dragon that was used in the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics. He is one of—if not the most—instrumental people in vaulting snowboarding into an Olympic sport.

It is one of the most visually impressive events under the snowboarding umbrella. Here's a look at two of the best runs on the half-pipe in 2013. Kelly Clark's winning run at the 2013 U.S. Open was sick, but then again the snowboarding community has to expect nothing less from her. Just below that is Louie Vito's third-place performance at the same event.

 

 

Slopestyle

WANAKA, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 19:  Breanna Stangeland of Canada competes during the FIS Snowboard Slopestyle World Cup Finals during day five of the Winter Games NZ at Cardrona Alpine Resort on August 19, 2013 in Wanaka, New Zealand.  (Photo by Hannah John
Hannah Johnston/Getty Images

While half-pipe is quite the spectacle, slopestyle brings about a level of excitement that is unrivaled in the sport, in my opinion. It is all about the most difficult, death-defying tricks, and the event has produced some amazing performances.

One of note in 2013 was Mark McMorris' at the Aspen X Games in January. Here's a look at his record-breaking run. He earned the highest score in snowboard slopestyle history on this one.

 

Athletes to Watch

Shaun White

Jan 27, 2013; Aspen, CO, USA; Shaun White (USA) on the podium after winning the men's snowboard superpipe during the Winter X Games. Mandatory Credit: Paul Bussi-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Bussi-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the most well-known name in the sport is White. The 27-year-old finished first in the half-pipe qualifying event at The Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colo. He didn't unveil his newest trick—a twisting, 1440-degree jumpbut fans will have their eyes peeled for White to pull it off at one of the Grand Prix events.

 

Kelly Clark

WANAKA, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 24:  Kelly Clark of the USA smiles after winning the FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup Final on day 10 of the Winter Games NZ at Cardrona Alpine Resort on August 24, 2013 in Wanaka, New Zealand.  (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty
Hannah Johnston/Getty Images

Clark is the winningest snowboarder in history—male or female. The 30-year-old has already been named to the U.S. Olympic team, and she looks to shine during the Grand Prix series in preparation for the Sochi Games.

Her amplitude and variety of tricks make her a must-see star every time she competes.