The best new school skiers in the world will kick off the event side of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival on April 14 with the Orage Big Air contest at the base of the Whistler Gondola.
Last years event took place by the Roundhouse on Whistler, and while the fan support was huge, the skiers wanted an opportunity to show the world that they are every bit as exciting as the snowboarders. A village venue will was the key.
"The tide has definitely turned," says Doug Perry, WSSF Chairman. "New technology, changing attitudes and innovative competition formats have reinvented the ski industry, confirming what many have always believed, that skiing would be back with even greater vengeance."
If youve never been to a skiers Big Air competition, prepare yourself nobody does backscratchers anymore. Taking a page out of the snowboard trick book, new school skiers flip, twist, take off and land backwards, and grab their skis at ever opportunity. And they go big.
The Big Air competition starts at 4 p.m., and will be backed by the DJ collective of Velvet.
While skiers will be in town from all over the world to compete in the Big Air, expect a strong local presence led by Toben Sutherland, Anthony Boronowski and Rex Thomas. The competition from Quebec, the birthplace of new school skiing, and the U.S. should also make things interesting.
The short list of the competitors invited to the contest includes Evan Raps, Phil Belanger, JF Cusson, Vincent Dorion, Tanner Hall, CR Johnson, Eric Pollard, Candide Thovex, Chris Turpin and Mauro Nunez.
The Atomic Slopestyle takes places on the following day (April 15) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Nintendo 64 Terrain Park on Blackcomb Mountain. This is a brand new event to the World Skiing Invitational, encompassing both the big mountain aspects of freeriding, and the more technical elements of park riding. Twenty skiers are invited to challenge a course through the terrain park. Skiers choose their own path down a tabletop-dominated run and are scored on the height, distance and complexity of their tricks.
The list of competitors for this event is almost identical to the Big Air list, with a few notable additions keep an eye out for Phil Larose and Phil Poirier.
A third component to the World Skiing Invitational is a Halfpipe Photo Jam taking place on Monday, April 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Symbolic of the new energy in skiing, the event Style Council, made up of key athletes and industry representatives to direct the course of the event, insisted that a halfpipe event be a sort of "demonstration" sport. The Halfpipe Photo Jam will allow the many photographers in town for the WSSF to have a photo session with the athletes in the pipe.
The World Skiing Invitational, presented by Freeskier Magazine, was started in 2000 to provide a competition venue for the new school of skiers to showcase their talents. The feedback from the event was "astounding" with athletes, sponsors and the industry clamouring for a bigger event in 2001.