Some of the world's best professional and amateur skier halfpipe athletes from around the world will battle it out for a prize purse of $20,000 in the U.S. Freeskiing Open at Copper Mountain Feb. 26-March 1. Traditionally, a three-discipline event, Mountain Sports International (MSI) has consolidated the 2009 USFO due to the difficult sponsorship sales climate. The 2009 USFO will be more streamlined, but will return to its full schedule in the future.

"Copper is pleased to be the home of the U.S. Freeskiing Open for the third year," said Copper President and COO Gary Rodgers. "Copper's Superpipe will be home to yet another world-class competition hosting freeskiing's top talent, while each competitor gets a taste of Woodward at Copper - the first training facility dedicated to terrain park and pipe progression."

Due to high demand, registration for the US Freeskiing Open was conducted via a lottery system. A single entry per person was allowed. Athletes had to register via the lottery unless they were pre-qualified.

All athletes over the age of 13 can participate in the USFO but continuing to invest in the future of the sport of freeskiing, MSI has also created the Junior Halfpipe Jam, which accepts 6- to 12-year-olds In fostering a new generation of freeskiers and providing a competition platform, even the youngest of athletes is able to gain the experience to someday reach the Olympic Games and beyond.

"The U.S. Open gives aspiring kids the chance to become professional skiers," said US Open Big Air Champion TJ Schiller. "The event was built and designed so young amateurs could come test their skills against the best. Without the US Open I wouldn't have been able to achieve what I do today."

Since the early 1980s, Camp Woodward has been working with top athletes to design and implement progressive freestyle training methods and tools. Copper Mountain and Camp Woodward have teamed up to offer a first of its kind training facility, winter programs, summer camps and more, all dedicated to terrain park and halfpipe progression. Skiers from around the globe flock to Woodward at Copper to gain awareness and master technique on a series of features including trampolines, foam pits and spring floors before heading out on the hill. Participants in the 2009 USFO will have access to Woodward at Copper facilities.

"We are pleased to have Woodward at Copper as this year's presenting sponsor of the US Freeskiing Open," said MSI President Adam Comey. "Woodward at Copper is an innovator of action sports skill-development which makes the partnership between the USFO, the athletes and Camp Woodward a perfect fit. We are also excited to offer athletes access to the world-class Woodward at Copper facilities."