The last time Tanner Hall was in Whistler, he was 15 years old and competing in the International Free Skiers Association Superfly Slopestyle competition. That was in January of 2000.
He went on to win that competition and a prize purse of $500 Cdn, which wouldnt go very far in his hometown of Kalispell, Montana.
Now 18, Hall returned to Whistler to compete for a slightly larger prize $12,000 in the Orage Big Air under the lights last Saturday.
It was a close competition from the start, with only six of 24 competitors making it into the finals based on their best of two runs.
Hall was first in qualifying with a score of 276.
The other five qualifiers were Phil Belanger, Chris Turpin, Mike Nick, Mark Abma and Iannick Brouillette.
All finalists were given three runs, with the best two counting for the title. Hall landed a clean cab 720 and a cab 900 in his first two jumps, but fell on his third attempt.
Chris Turpin actually scored higher for both jumps, but was marked down because both jumps were essentially the same switch cab 720s.
Mike Nick, the ski boarder, proved he had guts with a huge switch zero spin taking off and landing switch without twisting or flipping.
"Its an incredibly difficult jump and he pulled it off cleanly," said Josh Loubek, the head judge for the competition.
For Hall, who won $12,000 in cash, along with a trophy, a barbecue and a ring in the Orage Big Air, the competition was a testament to how far the sport and the skiers have come.
"Ive been skiing with these guys for a while and there is always something new. Everybody works really hard, and Im just stoked to see the whole sport progressing. Even from the beginning of the season to the end of it, its cool to see how far the other skiers progress. We push each other a lot."
Turpin earned $7,500 for second place, and Nick $3,000 for third.