By Andrew Mitchell
The competition side of the 2007 Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival wraps up on Saturday night with the Playstation Big Air, following the Superpipe, Coca Cola Rail Session, and World Backcountry Freeride Jam competitions.
Athletes will be competing for what’s left of $100,000 in prize money, as well as the Pontiac G5 GT that will go to the athlete with the best results over the week as well as the most votes at the Pontiac display.
Coca Cola Rail Session
Tonight’s Coca Cola Rail Session (April 19) is the most compact event of the TWSSF, with just 11 men and four women on both the ski and snowboard side.
It’s a jam format, with athletes hitting the specially built rail in Skier’s Plaza as many times as they can in an hour, following a warm-up from 8:15 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
The list of snowboarders competing includes Jed Anderson, Jeremy Cloutier, Dustin Craven, Matt Dano (last year’s champion), Dave Fortin, Paul Gonzalez, William Lavigne, Max Legend, Aaron Shapiro (2005 champion), Logan Short (2004 champion), and Todd Williamson. For the women, watch out for Izumi Amaike, Molly Milligan (2006 champion), Spencer O’Brien and Leanne Pelosi.
The list of skiers includes Sammy Carlson, Justin Dorey, Tanner Hall, JF Houle, Peter Olenick, Jon Olsson, Frank Raymond, TJ Schiller, John Spriggs, Cedric Tremblay-Fournier, and Jossi Wells on the men’s side. The women are Ashley Battersby, Sarah Burke, Grete Eliassen and Sasha Chernenkoff. Last year’s winners, Corey Vanular and Kaya Turski, are sidelined with injuries.
The Superpipe, taking place on Blackcomb Mountain, is arguably the biggest contest of the festival with 96 skiers and 93 snowboarders in the qualifier, men and women included.
The event got underway with training on Tuesday, building up to the finals on Saturday, April 21. The snowboarders will be competing from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and the skiers from 12:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Immediately afterwards the competitors will face off in an athlete-judged SuperHit contest, where everybody gets to throw down their best pipe trick.
The list of athletes taking part is too long to list — a complete list is available at www.whistler2007.com — but the field will include members of the Canadian, U.S., Finnish, and Japanese national snowboard teams, all the top ski pros, and most of the podium winners from the past few years. Always worth the price of a lift ticket.
Playstation Big Air
The second of two big air contests held this year, the action gets underway at the base of Whistler Mountain in Skier’s Plaza at 8 p.m. sharp Saturday, following a training session that runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
The format will be similar to the Old Spice Big Air the previous Saturday, with athletes getting two jumps each in the qualifier, and the top three skiers and snowboarders moving on to the final. The format for the final is 5, 7, 9, and Beyond, which means all the athletes have to do 540, 720 and 900 degree spins, with whatever variations they choose, followed by their best trick. There will be 20 snowboarders and 20 skiers, including the three finalists from the previous week.
On the snowboard side the list of competitors includes Reno Belisle, Craig Beaulieu, Matt Belzile (Old Spice Winner), Neil Connolly, Dustin Craven, Kim Eliassen, Dave Fortin, Rube Goldberg, Jake Koia, Justin Lamoureux, Brad Martin, Sam Osachuk, Mike Page, T.J. Schneider, Logan Short, Shota Suzuki, and Travis Williams.
For the skiers, the list includes Charley Ager, Josh Bibby, Sammy Carlson, Ian Cosco, Simon Dumont, Taylor Felton, Charles Gagnier, Andreas Hatveit, J.F. Houle, P.K. Hunder, Jon Olsson, Tucker Perkins, Tanner Tainville, T.J. Schiller (Old Spice winner), Steele Spence, John Symms, Jossi Wells, and Satoshi Tamashita.
World Backcountry Freeride Jam
There are two competitions in the WBFJ this year. The first is the North Face Whistler Windup, which takes place Friday, April 19, and involves skinning up to the Roundhouse Lodge from the base of Whistler. On Saturday there are two randonnee events. The North Face Canadian Ski Mountaineering Championships takes place on a 26 km course in the backcountry while the North Face Whistler Dash is a short course event that stays in-bounds. For more information visit www.wbfj.ca.