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Olympians Return to Park City for Snowboard Competition

Olympians Return to Park City for Snowboard Competition



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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News specialist Shelley Osterloh reporting

Five Olympic medalists return to Park City Mountain Resort this week to compete in the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix.

The competition promises Red Hot Riders, and a special performance from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

But before the riders hit the snow, there's a lot of preparation underway.

Big air, spectacular tricks and lots of Olympic medals have thrust snowboarding into American pop culture. And this weekend, the Olympic stars return to Park City:

Kelly Clark -- the first American to win gold at the Games.

And the three men who swept the halfpipe: Ross Powers, Danny Kass and J.J. Thomas.

Chris Klug -- who took bronze in the parallel giant slalom says he is happy to be back on his Olympic mountain and feeling better than ever.

"(I feel) great, really healthy. I had a good summer. Took a lot of time off after the Olympics. I worked really hard the last two years after my liver transplant in 2000, preparing for the Olympics, so I just took a nice break," Klug says.

"I traded the snowboard in for surfboard this summer, and kite boards, and spent a lot of time on the water instead of snow for a change."

He competes on Thursday, then again on Friday in the halfpipe competition.

The snowguns at Park City Mountain Ski Resort worked for 10 to 12 days just to create enough snow. Now comes the fine-tuning -- moving that snow and shaping that perfect pipe.

Snowcats push the snow into position creating a superpipe: 530 feet long with a 17 foot radius.

The master snow sculptor is Pat Malendowski -- the same man who created the pipe for the Olympics. He uses a special machine, called a pipe dragon.

"Big toys for big boys, I love it. It's one of those things where it's like playing in a sandbox with your toys," Malendowski says.

The trick, he says, is making the surface a consistent firmness, texture and curve.

"Wherever they hit the wall, it needs to be the same so that they can trust it, and they can go bigger and the show we see will be more spectacular," Malendowski says.

The Chevy Truck Snowboard Grand Prix runs Thursday and Friday, with an exhibition on Saturday at Park City Mountain Resort.

There is a charge to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the halfpipe finals Friday night, but all of the other events are free.

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