New team of athletes to replace Whistler Freeride Team
The amount of on-snow talent in a 10 kilometre radius of Whistler Village is truly incredible, with Olympians, World Cup stars, freeride pioneers, and dozens of extreme ski and snowboard legends all sharing the same basic postal code.
For years, Whistler-Blackcomb has put this star power to work by enlisting local skiers and boarders to be a part of the Whistler Freeride Team. The goal was to promote sports, the mountains and mountain safety.
After re-evaulating the program with a panel of industry experts and athletes, including the Whistler Freeride Team, "we decided that the time had come to develop a new athlete sponsorship program," said Lauren Gehlen, special projects co-ordinator for Whistler-Blackcomb.
This year the mountains will launch the Whistler-Blackcomb Pro Team, featuring six skiers and six snowboarders that are still on active duty. The mountains also created a Whistler-Blackcomb Legends Team.
"Whistler is the centre of ski and snowboard culture, and the talent pool in Whistler is very deep," explained Stuart Rempel, vice-president of marketing and sales for Whistler-Blackcomb.
"Choosing six skiers and six snowboarders for the Whistler-Blackcomb Pro Team wasnt easy. We went to industry insiders and asked the athletes themselves who represents the best of what Whistler has to offer?
"We have chosen a team that symbolizes all of Whistler-Blackcombs strengths the biggest vertical in North America, some of the most creative terrain parks in the world, and venues that will be featured in the 2010 Olympics."
The five skiers that have already been named to the team include:
Mike Douglas, a freeskiing pioneer who has helped to revolutionize big mountain riding and park riding;
Hugo Harrison, a two-time International Freeskiing Association world champion big mountain skier;
Jen Ashton, three-time Canadian freeski champion and the 2003 world freeski champion;
Aleisha Cline, the four-time X-Games gold medallist in skier cross and reigning international Salomon Crossmax Series champion, and;
Britt Janyk, one of the top young World Cup skiers on the Canadian Alpine Ski Team.
The sixth skier will be announced later in the fall.
The snowboard team includes:
Maelle Ricker, one the top-ranked Canadians on the World Cup halfpipe circuits;
Chris Dufficy, a park rider who is best known for his rail slides;
Shin Campos, a big mountain and freestyle rider;
Kevin Sansalone, a big air contest legend and strong all-around snowboarder;
JF Pelchat, a big mountain and park rider, and;
Gaetan Chanut, another all-around rider.
To honour some of the most accomplished skiers and boarders, Whistler-Blackcomb is also creating a Legends Team, which will feature athletes like Rob Boyd, Eric Pehota, Ross Rebagliati, Brian Savard, John Smart and Lee Anne Patterson.
Information on the new Whistler-Blackcomb teams will be available on the new Ride Tribe youth site at www.ridetribe.com after the site is launched in mid-October.