In just five years the World Skiing Invitational has evolved from a demonstration of a revolutionary discipline into the cornerstone of an established extreme sport.
The WSI even predates the X-Games and U.S. Open freeskiing competitions, which is why you can almost chart the growing popularity of new school skiing by using the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival as a barometer.
In its first year, 2000, the WSI featured combined big air and quarterpipe contests on Headwall with a crowd of about 2,000 people looking on.
The following year the WSI Big Air was moved downhill to Whistler Village, taking place in the afternoon with a much larger crowd. A Superpipe contest was also added to the lineup.
The year after that, the WSI big air was moved to the evening, drawing massive festival crowds that were on par with the more established snowboard big air events.
In its fifth year the WSI is bigger than ever, drawing an international field of top competitors, thousands of spectators, and hundreds of representatives from the ski industry and ski media. As a result, much more than $50,000 in prize money is at stake, although thats not a bad bonus for most of the athletes.
The action gets underway today (Friday, April 23) with the Salomon Superpipe Qualifier from 9:30 a.m. to 2:10 p.m. Salomon has invited up to 80 men and 15 women to come out and compete for spots in Saturdays Superpipe Finals, where they will face the pro riders. There will also be a Salomon Big Air training session from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday the Superpipe Finals will run from 11 a.m. to 1:20 p.m., followed by an athlete-judged Superhit contest until 2 p.m.
That evening the Big Air warm-up will take place at 7 p.m., followed by the main event at 8 p.m.
Although the list is subject to change, the current roster of athletes is as impressive as they come with past winners, up-and-comers, and tested veterans of pro contests like the X-Games, U.S. Open, Red Bull Huckfest and, of course, the WSI.
Josh Bibby Bibby hails from Vernon, where he was a star on the Silver Star Freestyle Club. He is 18, aggressive, and is sponsored by Salomon, Smith and Silver Cartel. He was ninth in the WSI Big Air in 2003.
Rory Bushfeld This 20 year old hails from Calgary, lives in Balzac, B.C. and also has a freestyle background he was the 2002 FIS International Youth Freestyle Champion as a matter of fact. He has been featured in several videos, has ranked in the top-10 in the U.S. Freeskiing Open, and can land a 1080-to-fakie trick in the pipe. He is skiing for the Rossignol team.