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Backstrom, Gaidet claim freeskiing titles



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"It’s awesome, definitely. You have to step up because there’s an awful lot of good girls out there, and they’re coming from all over the world. The talent’s getting scary."

Backstrom was followed by Pemberton’s Laura Ogden, who skied a similar line and used more of the terrain on the edges of Diamond Bowl.

Third place went to Ane Enderud of France for one of the fastest runs through the bumpy sections of the bowl.

Susan Medville of Crested Butte, Colorado was the leader after the first day, but slipped to fourth after losing a ski in a rough patch.

Lia Darquier of Argentina, who is living in Whistler, took the hardest line of the day with the most air time, but had trouble with her landings to finish in fifth. The only skier to attempt as much on her run was Dana Carmichael of Squamish, with similar results.

From Whistler, Alisha Reilly-Roe finished in sixth place after four days of competition, and received an award for being the top woman through the qualifiers.

The men’s competition was nothing short of intense with at least a dozen skiers still in the running after the first day of competition.

Ian McIntosh of Panorama led the way on the first day with a score of 41.2, dropping four good cliffs, and taking Ruby Bowl at speed.

He had a strong run again on day two with lots of air time, but got into a little trouble in the choppy snow of Diamond Bowl. His second day score of 35.6 was the third highest, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Manuel Gaidet of Courcheval, France, the reigning Canadian and World Champion.

Gaidet started with a huge drop, skied the bumps like he was at a freestyle moguls competition, and ended his run with an off-camber 360 at the bottom.

Gaidet finished the day with a combined score of 82.2, six points ahead of McIntosh.

"It’s crazy," said Gaidet. "I wasn’t expecting to win today. I won last year, and it was a big day for me, with all the best guys around, and I was really together for that. I was impressed to win again here, because the other skiers are really strong."

Gaidet said the terrain in Diamond Bowl is pretty similar to the terrain he skis in France, and that he enjoys this face because of the variety of line choices. Although the conditions were less than perfect, Gaidet said he stuck with his original line choice.