There aren't many resorts in North America where you can hold a five star TTR World Snowboard Tour event in July, other than Whistler. And because the heavy snowfall from this past winter, the organizers are hosting the Canada Day contest right outside the Roundhouse on Whistler Mountain, instead of the glacier on Blackcomb.
The Billabong Ante Up will features a 90-foot big air jump and $50,000 U.S. in prize money.
The event also kicks off the 2011-2012 season, and athletes will have their eye on tour points as well.
A field of 30 riders will be competing for the top prize, including Quebec's Sebastien Toutant - recognized as one of the top snowboarders in the world after wins in TTR World Snowboard Tour big air contests last year and a first place finish in the X Games slopestyle. Other big names include American riders Chas Guldemond and Scotty Lago, Swedish rider Kevin Backstrom and Finnish rider Roope Tonteri. Eight countries will be represented.
The organizers also kept some of the invites local, giving the nod to Craig Beaulieu (first in the Monster Energy Slopestyle during the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, and Whistler Valley Snowboard Club alum Robby Balharry, who had two silver medals at World Cup slopestyle events last season.
The complete list of qualified riders and alternates is at www.billabong.com/anteup/.
Spectators are encouraged, and there will be food and a beer garden in sight of the jump off of Headwall. Practice is from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by qualifying from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The finals run from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., followed by the awards.
The event is free, but you'll need a pass to ride the gondola. A season's pass from the 2010-2011 season will work, otherwise you'll need to purchase a sightseeing pass to get up the Whistler Village Gondola.