America's longest-running winter action sports series, the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix, wrapped up last weekend at Park City Mountain Resort with historic athletic results and record television viewers worldwide. The event's premier broadcast, airing on NBC, was up 20% over last year's Grand Prix heading into the Sochi Olympics, recording the highest rating of any winter action sports series. As an International Ski Federation World Cup, global coverage reached over 60 nations including live or same-day coverage across Europe and Asia.
The entire program was streamed live on NBC Sports Live Extra, with broadcast coverage on both NBC and NBCSN. Through a partnership with Infront Media & Sports, global broadcast television distribution of the event was significant, with the Grand Prix reaching viewers in over 60 countries in North America, Europe and Asia.
The Grand Prix finale, which featured both freeskiing and snowboarding, was sanctioned as a FIS World Cup, World Snowboard Tour International Level event and Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) Platinum Level. The three-day event foreshadowed the International Ski Federation's World Championships for freestyle skiing, freeskiing and snowboarding to be held at Park City's three resorts in 2019.
The final event of the three-stop Grand Prix tour showcased Olympic medalists including Joss Christiansen, David Wise, Kelly Clark, Gus Kenworthy and Devin Logan. U.S. snowboarder Eric Willet led an American sweep of the slopestyle snowboarding event, while Olympic champion Joss Christiansen did the same in slopestyle skiing. The halfpipe competitions were considered to be among the best ever in the sport. Kenworthy upset Olympic champion David Wise in halfpipe skiing, throwing four double corks (flips or rotations) in his run - essentially progressing the sport two-fold. In Sunday's snowboarding finale, China's challenge to Shaun White, Yiwei Zhang, uncorked a massive 98.0 score.
The legacy of the Park City venue is still strong in the sport 13 years after America swept men's medals at the 2002 Olympics. It continues to bring out the best in athletes, including Kelly Clark, who won gold there in 2002 and set a new standard with her winning Grand Prix run Sunday.
The Park City stop was the third on the Grand Prix tour along with a December event at Copper Mountain CO and an early February competition at Mammoth Mountain, CA. The Grand Prix, now in its 19th season, is the only multi-stop winter action sports tour in America with a cash purse of over $400,000.
- The Sprint U.S. Grand Prix, the longest-running winter action sports series in America, wrapped up at Park City Mountain Resort Feb. 27-March 1 with its third tour stop. The freeskiing and snowboarding tour, which includes the Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix, had a cash purse of over $400,000 and featured most of the sport's Olympic medalists from Sochi.
- The event had extensive global broadcast television coverage, being fed to over 60 countries with live or same-day coverage across much of Europe and Asia.
- Domestic television broadcast coverage of the Grand Prix on NBC was up 20% over last year's Grand Prix heading into the Sochi Olympics, recording the highest rating of any winter action sports broadcast.
- Live streaming was carried for events on all three days on NBC Sports Live Extra.
- The event drew widespread acclaim for athletes, especially the reknowned Park City halfpipe that provided a platform for Olympic slopestyle skiing silver medalist Gus Kenworthy launch a run that included four double corks (flips or rotations) - a dramatic progression for the sport that just a year ago was seeing athletes do two doubles in a run. Kenworthy won Saturday's halfpipe skiing title, upsetting Olympic champion David Wise.
- The Sprint U.S. Grand Prix is owned and produced by the USSA. The season finale was a partnership with Park City Mountain Resort, along with the Park City Chamber/Bureau and the Utah Sports Commission.
- The USSA is the broadcast rightsholder, managing domestic distribution with its partners NBC and NBCSN, and distributing international through rights partner Infront Media & Sports.
GLOBAL BROADCAST TELEVISION DISTRIBUTION
Asia (Multi-nation Pan Asian coverage on Eurosport Asia) *
Europe (Multi-nation Pan European coverage on Eurosport) *
Russia * (Multi-nation distribution to Russia and neighboring countries)
* Live or same-day broadcast television television coverage
Michael Jaquet, Chief Marketing Officer, USSA
The athleticism we saw at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix created amazing images for global television. We saw dramatic increases in our domestic viewership on NBC and NBCSN, along with a large global television broadcast audience with live and same-day coverage through our partnership with Infront Sports & Media. For athletes, the Grand Prix is now an opportunity to be showcased to the largest global audience in their sport outside the Olympics.
Calum Clark, Vice President, Events, USSA
As an athletic organization, we keep our focus on providing the best venues and competitions for athletes. As the only multi-stop tour in America, the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix has provided an amazing platform to leverage the success of the USA's Olympic stars. The Park City venue continues to be a world-class showcase for international skiers and riders and will be a remarkable site for the 2019 World Championships.
Eric Webster, Tour Director, Sprint U.S. Grand Prix
It's gratifying to hear such positive feedback from the judges about the quality of competition. The significant investment from the USSA and each of our partner resorts to work with the absolute best venue designers and builders pays great dividends when it provides such a world-class showcase of the sport.
Gus Kenworthy (first in halfpipe skiing)
The level of riding here today was crazy. I did a run with four doubles, which was a first for me. But I almost wasn't even sure if that was going to hold. That's how high of a level it was.
David Wise (third in halfpipe skiing)
It was such an amazing contest, watching everybody kill it. Anybody out there could have won and there were a lot of guys who were on the verge of winning. The pipe was amazing. I love this halfpipe in Park City - it's always one of my favorite pipes of the year. It's on a really steep pitch, so you can carry a lot more speed.
Ben Verge, U.S. Freeskiing Halfpipe Coach (following Kenworthy's halfpipe skiing win)
Today was awesome. It was one of the better contests of the year. It's pretty cool that different guys won every contest this year. It shows the level of skiing right now and the depth of the field.
Joss Christensen (first in slopestyle skiing)
I love being able to have a contest in Park City. This is the second year now that we've had a real platinum-level event at Park City. The park crew always puts together a good park. It was a little hard at first, but they listen to the athletes and changed the course and made it really good for us. Taking a win in Park City means so much to me.
Arielle Gold (second in halfpipe snowboarding)
Park City does an awesome job whenever contests come here. The pipe is one of the best I've ever ridden. Even with the new snow, they were able to slip it out and keep the pipe super fast and cater to a great event.
Kelly Clark (first in halfpipe snowboarding)
I always like coming back to this place. It holds a lot of good memories from the Olympics.