Local skiers will be tough to beat on home turf
It will be hard to top last years Canadian Freeskiing Championships, with skiers dropping huge cliffs and speeding down rocky lines in an icy and tracked out Ruby Bowl, but somehow the athletes always manage to crank things up a notch.
The championships take place every year at various venues around Blackcomb Mountain that offer the athletes a choice of steeps, cliffs, rock features, tree sections, and other extreme terrain features that sensible people usually steer well clear of. Many of the lines skiers take are extremely exposed with huge consequences if something should go wrong which is why its appropriate that the new headline sponsor for the event is Tylenol 8 Hour muscle and pain relief tablets.
At the end of each run skiers are judged in five categories and awarded a final score. The categories are degree of difficulty (line choice), control, fluidity, form and technique and aggressiveness (speed and strength). There is $10,000 US in prize money on the line, so competitors make the most of it.
Whistler skiers have been dominating the Canadian Freeskiing Championships and the International Freeskiers Association world tour for years. In the womens event, Jenn Ashton is a three-time Canadian champion and a two-time world champion.
Pierre-Yves Leblanc was third at home last year after winning the year before, and finished eighth in the overall standings.
Hugo Harrison, a two-time world tour champion, missed last year due to an injury but is expected to return to the fold this season.
Jonny Law was 11 th in Whistler last year, but finished third in the overall world standings after winning the U.S. Freeskiing Championships at Snowbird, Utah, and finishing second at Les Arcs, France.
Leif Zapf-Gilje was fifth at home last year.
There are always surprises, with the top athletes in the qualifiers advancing to the finals.
The qualifiers take place on Jan. 7 and 8, and are open to the first 65 athletes who register. The World Tour events take place on Jan. 9-10, with a weather day on Jan. 11.
Although venues are subject to change, the plan is to hold the first day of qualifying on Wednesday on The Bite, accessible by the Glacier Express Chair.
Day two of qualifying will take place on Chainsaw Ridge area, which is accessed by the 7 th Heaven chair, and can be viewed from the bottom of Jersey Cream Bowl.
The first day of the World Tour championship will take place in Ruby Bowl, which is accessed via Spankys Ladder, and can be viewed from the glacier area.
Day two of the world tour will take place in Diamond Bowl, which is in the same general area as Ruby Bowl.
All contests will get underway at 9:30 a.m. and will run until approximately 2 p.m. If there are any delays due to weather, the event could be pushed to Sunday.
If you think you have what it takes to compete in the national championships, you can still register online at http://rodeo/circusmedia.com/msi/
For more information on the event and a look at all of the pre-qualified athletes for 2004, visit www.freeskiers.org.