For the past three years Whistler skiers have set the standard on the International Freeskiiing Association World Tour, with Hugo Harrison claiming back to back world tour titles and Jeff Holden grabbing the title in 1999.
In addition to the two overall tour champions, the exploits of Whistlerites Jenn Ashton, Pierre Yves Leblanc, Rex Thomas, Robin Courcelles and former Whistlerite Ryan Oakden on the IFSA World Tour have focused the freeskiing worlds attention on the big mountain skiers from Whistler.
And next week the world comes to Whistler as the IFSA World Tour returns for the Canadian Freeskiing Championships.
The fifth annual Canadian Freeskiing Championships, which take place Jan. 10-11, is the inaugural event on the three-stop 2002 IFSA tour. Athletes from eight countries are expected to compete for $10,000 US in prize money.
Qualifying will be held on Blackcomb Jan. 7-9. The finals are scheduled for Jan. 10-11, with Jan. 12 a potential weather day. The venue for the finals has been chosen but wont be announced until the event begins.
Last years Canadian mens champion, Philippe Troubat of France, is recovering from an injury sustained over the summer and wont be defending his title. Harrison, who finished second at last years Whistler event, is the favourite this year, but he will be pushed by Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit, New Zealands Todd Windle, Americans Rex Wehrman and Aaron Estrada, and of course the strong contingent of local riders.
Ashton, the defending womens champion, and another former Whistlerite, Aleisha Cline, will likely be the women to beat.
Freeskiing is scored by a panel of five judges who evaluate a skier on five categories: Line Choice, Control, Fluidity, Technique, and Aggression, on a point scale of 1-10. Judges score all five categories and their totals are averaged. Athletes total scores are the combined total of all competition runs.
The Canadian Freeskiing Championships are sponsored by Whistler-Blackcomb, Powder Magazine and Atomic Skis.