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World Ski and Snowboard Festival — beyond the big leagues

From the ashes of the World Technical Skiing Championships, the World Ski and Snowboard Festival has risen to an unsurpassed expression of snowsports culture.



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Sarah Burke was a regular in the superpipe event, even before she was allowed to compete. Every year she would return with bigger and better tricks, always surprising fans and friends. Many recall the first time she landed a 1080 in the pipe, one of the many boundaries of women's freeskiing that Burke shattered. Sadly, Burke died while training in the U.S. in January.

"You would see shit go on that was mind boggling," said Anthony.

"Top photographers like Scott Markewitz had to be there because C.R. Johnson, Tanner Hall and Simon Dumont were going to throw down in that pipe. "

Those superpipe athletes would often also compete in the Big Air event in Skier's Plaza, where the open space could fit thousands more spectators. The Big Air, with anybody and everybody able to attend, is traditionally the big Saturday night event and the climax of the festival. Since the days when Douglas competed throwing 900s and the occasional 1080, the standard has progressed beyond 1440s and adding double and triple corks. Recent footage from the Jon Olson Invitational (JOI) in Are, Sweden, has shown athletes performing even bigger tricks. However, even with some of those athletes attending TWSSF it is unlikely that we will see the same tricks at the Big Air on April 21. Being situated at the bottom of the mountain, it is much more difficult to construct a jump to the same dimensions as seen at the JOI. Triple corks have been attempted at the WSI Big Air, but none have been successfully landed yet. The three WSI events at TWSSF were recently awarded platinum status by the Association of Freeski Professionals, the highest rank attainable by the organization and the same rank currently held by the Winter X-Games and the Dew Tour.

On the verge of the X-Games

Now in its 17th year hosting the TWSSF, Whistler has grabbed the attention of X-Games as a potential venue.

"It's a waiting game to see if ESPN thinks that our bid is worthy of them coming here," said Sue Eckersley, president of Watermark Communications.

"It would obviously have a huge influence on us moving forward. I wouldn't support it except for the fact that we know that the arts, culture and music side of things is going to remain strong and the spirit of the festival will live on."

While the potential advertising value from the exposure of a major television network far eclipses anything that the TWSSF can manage, those campaigning for X-Games realize the cultural value that the TWSSF has built up over the last 16 years.