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Strong fields to throw down at WSSF

Big air events honouring First Nations



Though the World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF) takes up fewer days on the calendar than in years past, there are still some exciting athletic events filling the schedule.

Leading the way is a refresh of the big air events, which have been renamed as the Halaw Snowboard Invitational and the Sp'akwus Ski Invitational and will run on April 12 and 13, respectively. The events are named for the word for "eagle" from the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations' respective languages.

"The Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre is honoured to welcome spectators and competing athletes of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival to our shared territories," Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre executive director Brady Smith said in a release. "This Festival creates greater awareness of our living cultures and provides us a platform to share them with the world, fulfilling our organization's purpose to encourage cultural understanding amongst all people."

Olympic slopestyle champion snowboarder Jamie Anderson is set to battle with 2018 silver medallist and Canadian Laurie Blouin while another Canadian, Mark McMorris, headlines the men's event. In the ski event, 2018 WSSF big-air champions Evan McEachran and Elena Gaskell are returning, while locals Teal Harle and Yuki Tsubota are among the field set to challenge them.

Each competitor will get five runs, with at least one done in switch (opposite foot for snowboarders or backwards for skiers). Each athlete's top two scores will make up their final grade with the winners bringing home a cool $20,000 prize.

Instead of running in prime time as in previous years, both the ski and snowboard events are moving to the après hour, starting at 4 p.m.

Other major events on the slate include the second edition of the rebooted Saudan Couloir Ski Race Extreme on Friday, April 12 at 11 a.m., organizers confirmed on April 10. The winners in the pro divisions will receive $3,000 apiece.

As well, the Monster Energy Boarderstyle World Championships is the culmination of an exciting year of competition on tour. The competition will bring a $20,000 purse to the Blackcomb Nintendo Snowcross Course, with the champions claiming $6,000 each. Qualifiers run on April 12 starting at noon with finals slated for April 13 at 1:30 p.m.

Fam Jam returning

The fourth-annual Halfpipe Fam Jam is coming back to the Blackcomb Halfpipe on Sunday, April 14.

Organized by Olympians Mercedes Nicoll and Dominique Vallee, the end-of-season event seeks to bring riders together in a cooperative, friendly atmosphere. Participants are encouraged to get into the summer spirit by embracing the day's beach theme. The grom session runs from 10:30 a.m. to noon, with everybody welcome from noon to 3 p.m.

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