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Freestyle team picks up new sponsor

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World Cup Freestyle Skiing will benefit from a new sponsor when it returns to Whistler Jan. 26 to 27 for both aerials and dual mogul events – the last events prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Canada Post will continue to be the headline sponsor of the aerials event, while Johns Manville, a manufacturer of building products, will sponsor the dual moguls.

"The Dual Mogul event is always a strong crowd pleaser and it’s great to have Johns Manville on board," says event director Tim Gayda. "They are a new supporter of freestyle skiing and will be joining the government of Canada and Canada Post as presenting sponsors."

Johns Manville supported freestyle skiing for the first time last spring by sponsoring the Canadian National Championships. The success of that event prompted Johns Manville to take their sponsorship to the next level, says Gayda.

"The World Freestyle in Whistler will be the final World Cup before the 2002 Winter Olympics and a chance for the world’s top freestyle skiers to fine-tune their performances before Salt Lake City. Canada has one of the strongest teams in the world, with medal prospects across all disciplines, so we will expect to see some exciting performances here in January."

This will be the 12 th year that Whistler has held a FIS Freestyle World Cup, including the FIS World Championships last year. The World Cup in January will use the same sites used in the world championships, and the full Canadian team will be on hand to train for the Olympics.

The freestyle World Cup season kicks off this weekend in Tignes, France with moguls and dual moguls events. With only four spots open for each of the Canadian men’s and women’s Olympic mogul squads, the competition will be fierce.

The team is banking on veterans Tami Bradley and Jean-Luc Brassard. Bradley, a Whistler skier, won the bronze medal at the 2001 World Championships and Brassard won the Olympic gold medal in 1994.

Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau and Stephane Rochon are also strong candidates for the men’s team, and the final spot could go to either Ryan Johnson or Jim Schiman, two Whistler locals.

The three remaining spots on the women’s team will go to Jennifer Heil, Rachel Belliveau, Kelly Ringstad, or Jennifer Simm.

World Cup organizers are still looking for volunteers to help out with the event. If you want to be involved, call the volunteer hotline at 604-938-7574.

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