The 2004 Showcase Showdown, the last big contest of the snowboard season, will take place next week with a whole new format for riders.
For the past four years the Showdown has been a quarterpipe contest, attracting a huge field of pro and amateur riders to a custom-built ramp on Whistler Mountain. This year the organizers are trying something new, a jib jam on a course that will include many of the same rails and features found in the Terrain Park.
According to Dave Goldberg at Westbeach, the organizers decided to change the format to keep the event fresh and keep pace with the progression of the sport.
"We were finding that there was more interest for rails and other obstacles," said Goldberg. "They are more of a part of terrain parks these days, so we wanted to change with the times and stay current with what the kids are riding these days.
"It just made a lot of sense. We would only build that quarterpipe at the end of the season for the event, it isnt always there for people to practice on. Riders who werent as familiar with it would wind up flying over the back or crashing, which isnt what this is about. We wanted an event that would showcase the kind of riding people do every day, and thats the rails and boxes and other features."
As always there will be categories for both pro and amateur snowboarders, and anyone can enter. Riders will have a full week to check out the course ahead of time to get a feel for things.
The event will take place on May 22 and 23 rd , and the course will be closed to everyone except registered competitors on May 21. The event is limited to 120 riders, so pre-registration is recommended.
The cost is $80 for pros and $50 for amateurs, with cash prizes available to the top three pro men and women. The size of those prizes will be determined by the number of entries.
The top amateurs will win prizes, and all of the participants in the Showcase Showdown will also be eligible to win draw prizes.
Goldberg doesnt know who is showing up to compete yet, but he says spectators can usually rely on a lot of the local pros to turn up and put on a show. They also see a lot of local amateurs, including members of the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club, and riders from Japan who spent the winter in Whistler.
In the future Goldberg would like to see more riders come up from the city and raise the profile of the event nationally and internationally.
Advance registration is available at Showcase Snowboards in the Sundial Hotel and at the Westbeach store in Whistler Marketplace. Registration will also be available in the Roundhouse Lodge on the day of the competition.
The amateur athletes will compete on Saturday, May 22 and the pro athletes on Sunday, May 23. Times are available online at www.whistlerblackcomb.com/events/showdown.asp.