Getting into the X Games isn't easy, and the North Face Park and Pipe Open Series in Whistler from Jan. 14 to 17 — a four-star Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) sanctioned contest — is the last and best chance for athletes to get on the roster with a handful of qualifying spots up for grabs.
The North Face PPOS has both halfpipe and slopestyle disciplines. The athletes register on Monday, Jan. 14, and there will be a practice and inspection that afternoon. The slopestyle qualifiers are on Tuesday afternoon, and the semi-finals and finals take place on Wednesday. Thursday is halfpipe day with practice and inspection in the morning, moving on to the semifinals and finals in the afternoon.
To compete, athletes have to be 14 or older as of Dec. 31, 2012. Anyone can enter, although spaces are limited and precedence is given to athletes that have prequalified based on the 2011-2012 AFP standings.
For more information, visit http://thenorthfaceppos.com.
Heckman top performer in Park
The third Park Rider Sessions session of the season took place in the Whistler terrain park on Sunday, Jan. 6 with a solid turnout of skiers and riders and taking part. When all the fine white dust had settled, judges gave JC Heckman the award for the Top Performer of the Day, although he didn't win any of the individual categories.
In Snowboard, Dan Ato, Keaton Gibson and Yosuke Miura were first, second and third for the men, while on the women's side it was Yuka Kasukawa, followed by Mutsumi Ido and Hayley Kostrey.
Alain MacKenzie competed alone in Female Snowboard 14 to 16. In 13 and Under, the top three boys were Finn Finestone, Quinn Dubois and Willem Stroud, while Samatha Deally was the lone Under 13 female.
There were just two men and one woman in the 17-plus ski category, with Thomas Roberts edging Masashi Yoshida for the win, and Amanda Webster competing alone.
In Male Ski 14 to 16 it was Aidan McConnell, Niko Bolmberg and Bradley Pudritz in first through third, and in Male Ski 13 and Under it was Luke Smart, followed by Chase Ujejski and Evan Phillips.
In Female Ski 13 and Under, the top skiers was Mei Pond, followed by Teagan Bruns and Anna Wilkinson.
The next event in the series is a slopestyle on Feb. 10.
Another big crowd at King of the Rail
Prize money at King of the Rail events is determined by the overall number of entries, and on Saturday, Jan. 5 the organizers handed back $255 to athletes while giving away a few thousand dollars in draw prizes.
The Snowboard Male 17 and Over category was the biggest once again, with Max Melvin-McNutt getting the most votes from his fellow athletes to take home $100. Max Morello won $80 in Ski Male 17 and Over, Wyatt Metcalfe won $20 in Ski Male 16 and Under, Amanda Webster won $15 in Ski Female 17 and Over, Jessy Poirier won $20 in Snowboard Female 17 and Over and Quinn Dubois won $20 in Snowboard Male 16 and Under. Brenden Reid was crowned King of the Rail, and Marie Andree Racinee was voted Queen.
Kerr McEwan won the draw prize for the Atomic skis, Kyle Stanton won the Burton snowboard and Max Morello won the Nintendo Wii.
What: Ski and Snowboard Cross
When: Jan. 19-20
Whistler Blackcomb is hosting three all-ages ski and snowboard cross events this season, with the first event taking place Jan. 19 and 20. The first day is for practice and qualification, followed by more practice and the race heats on Sunday. Early registration is $44.80, while day-of-race registration is available for $50 until 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning in the Rendezvous Lodge. Early registration is recommended, as the younger age groups have been known to fill up and some events last season drew over 150 participants.
What: Kokanee Valley Race Series
When: Thursday, Jan. 24
Where: Lower Franz's
The fourth race in the eight race Kokanee Valley Race Series is a giant slalom on Lower Franz's. Early registration is $29 either online or at Whistler Blackcomb Guest Relations, and day of race registration is available for $35 at Raven's Nest. All skiers, snowboarders and telemarkers are welcome, 19 years and older. Helmets are also mandatory. This is one of the last tune-up events for skiers taking place in the annual Peak to Valley Race.
What: Master's Recreation Race
When: Saturday, Jan. 27
Where: Whistler Mountain
This event is sanctioned by BC Alpine. Registration is at the Raven's Nest. Anyone can take part if you're over the age of 18, but you require a Masters Racing Licence if you're seeking national points.