Olympic Athletes to Compete in Heavenly's High Roller Hold 'Em

13 November 2014

South Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev. – November 13, 2014 – Three Olympic athletes from the inaugural USA slopestyle snowboarding team will arrive in South Lake Tahoe this spring to compete in Heavenly Mountain Resort’s signature event, High Roller Hold ‘Em, on Saturday, April 4, 2015. Olympic Gold Medalist Sage Kotsenburg will place his bets against fellow Olympians Billy Morgan and Chas Guldemond, as well as High Roller Hold ‘Em veterans Gjermund Braaten and Eric Willett. Developed in partnership with Snow Park Technologies, the world’s leading consulting team for special projects on snow, High Roller Hold ‘Em combines the thrill of snowboard Big Air with the strategy of high-stakes poker into an event that sends the winner home with $50,000.

This year the stakes are even higher, with the overall winner receiving a 2016 X Games Big Air event exemption, meaning the top finisher at High Roller Hold ‘Em will gain automatic entrance into the X Games Big Air event.


“High Roller Hold ‘Em is one of the most unique Big Air competitions in snowboarding, and for these top-tier Olympic athletes to join the lineup this April really speaks to how cool and distinct this format is,” said Pete Sonntag, vice president and COO of Heavenly. “There is no scripted routine, and they have no idea what combo of tricks they will be dealt. It really is anyone’s jackpot to win.”

Returning High Roller Hold ‘Em champ, Guldemond, 27, is a Tahoe local looking to defend his 2013 title. A member of the USA Olympic snowboarding team in Sochi, Guldemond placed 5th in Slopestyle in X Games Aspen 2014 and 3rd in the 2014 Grand Prix in Slopestyle. Having competed in more than 125 professional snowboarding competitions, he placed 3rd in Slopestyle at the 2013 Burton US Open, 4th in Slopestyle at the 2013 X Games Tignes, 1st at the 2013 Copper Grand Prix in Slopestyle, and 2nd in Slopestyle at the 2012 Dew Tour.

“High Roller Hold ‘Em is an amazing Tahoe event! Snowboarding in the evening sunset with Lake Tahoe in the background is a highlight for all of the riders, and the progressive and unique format makes it a fun and exciting event for the fans,” said Guldemond. “For a local boy, that's the perfect combination!”

Kotsenburg, who is no stranger to High Roller Hold ‘Em after taking 4th in the 2013 event, made history by winning the first gold medal of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in the inaugural Olympic snowboard slopestyle competition. Coming off a huge 2014 season, the 21-year-old also placed 1st at the 2014 Grand Prix in Slopestyle, and has two X Games Slopestyle Silver medals and one X Games Bronze medal in Big Air.

Morgan, 25, was the first person to ever successfully land a triple rodeo. In 2014, he took 1st at the Spring Battle in Big Air, placed 10th in Slopestyle at the Sochi Winter Olympics, and was 9th in Slopestyle at X Games Aspen 2014.

Braaten, 24, placed 13th in Slopestyle at X Games Aspen 2014 and 12th at the Sochi Winter Olympics. At the 2013 High Roller Hold ‘Em, Braaten took home a second place finish. 

Willett, 26, is a decorated competitor with four X Games medals, four Dew Tour medals and one Burton US Open Gold Medal in Slopestyle. He placed 3rd at the inaugural High Roller Hold ‘Em in 2013.

During the event, High Roller Hold ‘Em competitors will be dealt three cards per hand with each card featuring different tricks based on the face value of the card. From there, each rider will discard two cards, and bet accordingly on the final card in their hand. Once all bets are in, the riders who haven’t folded will head to the top of the Big Air course, where the rider who lands the trick with the highest level of difficulty will win the round and qualify for the $50,000 super final.

High Roller Hold ‘Em, sponsored by Tahoe South, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and Pepsi, will take place on the World Cup run near Heavenly’s California Main Lodge and is free of charge and open to the public. The event will feature a special guest DJ and the Heavenly Angels. For those who cannot attend in person, the event will be aired as a one hour show on ABC’s “World of X Games” during the following week.

About Heavenly
High above the sapphire-blue waters of Lake Tahoe, Heavenly Mountain Resort is one of the most unique mountain resorts on the planet. Combining 4,800 acres of off-the-grid terrain and incredible views of Lake Tahoe with high-octane, non-stop nightlife, Heavenly offers a high-energy resort experience like no other. Visitors to Heavenly come prepared to go “all-in” because Heavenly is for those who are up for first chair and are still going strong after last call. Heavenly is a subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc., the leading mountain resort operator in the United States. Visit www.skiheavenly.com or call 800-HEAVENLY to learn more.
About SPT
Snow Park Technologies (SPT) is the world’s leading consulting team for special projects on snow. SPT’s wide range of expertise includes designing and building some of the most renowned resort terrain parks and halfpipes; high-profile ski and snowboard competition courses; and countless on-snow productions. SPT also provides event production services, sport organizing and marketing services aimed at the action sports categories. The SPT team is a collection of the most experienced and talented freestyle park and pipe innovators in the world, whose dedication and passion for snow sports has redefined the winter landscape and what is possible on snow. For more information, visit SPT’s website at http://www.snowparktech.com and follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/snowparktech, Twitter @snowparktech and Instagram @snowparktech.


Sally Gunter

Senior Communications Manager
Email: sgunter@vailresorts.com
Phone: 9707543001
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