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TWSSF ends? X Games decision April 30

Big Air draws thousands with 43,000 more watching live online

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"I love to come to Whistler any chance I can get, and playing for the mountain community, I feel as though I am touching the core of our audience," said Franti by email as he continues his tour.

"Of course the vibe will change if the X Games come to town. It's become a huge international event, almost as big as the Olympics for winter sports.

"Whistler village and ski area is filled with world-class terrain, restaurants, hotels and nightclubs, but at the same time keeps its local flavour intact because the resident community cares. I can't see X Games being a bad thing for the community, as long as the people continue to speak up with Whistler pride."

Freestyle coach Elana Chase has athletes desperate to come to Whistler at the end of every season.

"They all want to go to the WSI (World Skiing Invitational) at the end of the year," said Chase from her base in Colorado the day after leaving Whistler with ten of her athletes. "It's that important."

The WSI takes the best in the world with those young up-and-comers and it's the chance for one of them to break out and make a name for themselves, like so many others have done in Whistler before them. Take Roz Groenewoud, who first competed at WSI aged 15, won the Big Air in 2009 and is now a member of the Canadian Half Pipe Ski Team.

The X Games isn't like that. It's big elite names in a small narrow field.

"It will narrow the field to just the top athletes that get to go to all the high level events already," said Chase. "A lot of these athletes that are up and comers from Canada, the U.S.... have worked hard all season and they're ready to show everybody what they have and put it down at this contest... They won't have that opportunity (at the X Games) because it'll just be the top 15 or 20 athletes."

She's come to Whistler every year for the past eight or nine years and describes it as coming home to a big family.

"X Games is a lot more serious," said Chase, who has coached over a dozen freeskiing athletes at X Games too.

That intensity could take away from the chilled-out Whistler factor that defines the World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

There was, she said, a feeling of disbelief at the close of the 2012 festival, that this might be the end of it as the athletes, coaches, community and all the rest have come to know it.

By all accounts 2012 was a success.The Filmmaker Showdown and the Pro Photographer Showdown sold out early, the first in four day, the later in six days.Intersection, now in its second year, sold out the morning of the event.