By Andrew Mitchell
As of this Friday the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival is just six weeks away, and as always the organizers have put a new twist into the competitive side of things.
While invited athletes will continue to make up the bulk of the field, the TWSSF has added a lottery for emerging athletes. In the past it was always first-come, first-served, with qualifiers to narrow down the field.
There are five major events this year, with $100,000 in cash and prizes on the line.
Back for a second year is the Stompede, but with a slightly different format. Instead of a slopestyle, each heat of the contest will bring snowboarders and skiers to a different terrain feature. The winners will be the athletes with most points over the course of the contest. It will take place April 12-15 at the top of the Emerald Chair on Whistler.
The Rail Session will return to the village as well, with a special rail built at the base of the mountain. It will take place on April 19, and feature 13 snowboarders and 13 skiers (10 men and three women in each).
The Superpipe is also back, taking place in the Nintendo Terrain Park pipe on Blackcomb. Following the Superpipe, competitors will also face off in a one-trick SuperHit contest judged by the athletes themselves. This runs from April 18 to 21, including training and the first two rounds of qualifiers.
The big air contest will return, but with two competitions this year instead of one during festival week. The first event is on Saturday, April 14 and will showcase 15 snowboarders and 15 skiers in a two jump contest, followed by a super final. The second is on April 21, and will feature another field of invited riders with the same basic format.
The athlete that racks up the most points in all of the ski and snowboard events will also win the Pontiac Peak Performer Award, which includes the keys to a new Pontiac G5 GT.
For skiers and snowboarders not invited to the Old Spice World Snowboarding Classic and World Skiing Invitation, the only way in is to enter the lottery. Visit www.whistler2007.com to request an invitation or enter the lottery by March 8. The confirmed competitor list will be announced on March 12.