Some of our top Whistler skiers took part in the U.S. Freeskiing Open in Vail, Colorado, from Feb. 6 to 9, and are bringing home their fair share of the medals and prize money. Events included a big air, a halfpipe, a slopestyle and a skier cross.
In the big air, former Whistler resident Sarah Burke was second overall, and less than two points out of first. She also won the slopestyle competition by almost 20 points, and was second in the halfpipe.
In the mens slopestyle, Whistlers Mark Abma finished in fifth place.
In the skier cross, two Whistler girls finished in the top six.
Racing in only her third professional competition, Whistlers Ashleigh McIvor finished second overall against the top women in the world.
"It was a photo-finish finish," said Whistlers Cat Smiley, who finished in sixth place in the skier cross and 17 th in the halfpipe. "Ashleigh was amazing in there, shes just an incredibly fast, aggressive skier."
"It was pretty amazing to have two Whistler skiers in the top-six with that kind of competition, and I think that says a lot for Whistler and the amazing terrain park we have."
This was Smileys first skier cross competition. She decided to enter because she loves to ski and feels comfortable in all kinds of terrain.
"The competition was pretty strong, so I just tried to go at my own speed, ski the best I could, and I made it into the consolation final," she said.
Although she had hoped to do better in the halfpipe event, the pipe itself was small due to the lack of snow and in poor shape because the pipe dragon groomer broke down.
"Unless you practiced it a lot, it was hard to get a lot of air," said Smiley.
This year the U.S. Freeskiing Open took place one week after the X-Games, ensuring that the field included many of the top skiers in the world. Complete results are available at www.usfreeskiingopen.com.