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Whistler skiers competitive in freeski finals

McIntosh fourth, Walker seventh in Kirkwood



While the lack of snow was a challenge for many resorts this year, the Lake Tahoe and Kirkwood area of California has seen record amounts of powder this year, setting up an exciting final in the International Free Skiers Association’s world tour.

According to reports, the snow depth at Kirkwood Mountain Resort was the highest in North America, with 15-18 feet of snow at the resort.

Whistler’s Ian McIntosh tied Aaron Estrada of Aspen for fourth place in the last contest with 95.6 points, less than two points off the podium. The win went to Craig Gabriel of the U.S., followed by Aurelien Ducroz of France and Hamish Acland of New Zealand.

The result at Kirkwood was enough to place McIntosh third in the overall standings. Manuel Gaidet, who was sixth at Kirkwood, won the overall title for the third year running, tying the record sent by Whistler’s Hugo Harrison.

In the women’s contest, Whistler’s Holly Walker finished seventh. The top three spots went to women, with Jamie Burge on top, and Kit DesLauriers and Jess McMillan in second and third.

Huere Darquier, a skier from Argentina who lives and trains in Whistler, was injured after taking a triple-cliff-line. She compressed into the traverse track below, and was taken off the hill on a stretcher with a suspected neck injury. After determining that her neck and spinal cord were intact she was released.

Holly Walker had to go after Huere and was a little shaken by her friend’s injury.

"It wasn’t fun waiting there while the helicopter was coming in, knowing your friend was just injured," she said. "You’re not in the best frame of mind after that."

This was Walker’s second year on the tour, and she hopes to continue competing as long as she continues to qualify. For that to happen she also hopes that the Canadian Freeskiing Championships will return next winter. The 2005 championships were cancelled in Whistler due to a conflict with the FIS World Snowboarding Championships.

Because of the snow conditions this year she headed to California two weeks early to train. "The skiing was so crappy that I haven’t been out much, and I needed to get my legs back," said Walker. "I left and it started to dump."