Although experience always counts for something in pro sports, in the world of competitive freeskiing its often the athletes that risk the most that finish on top.
With injuries sidelining at least three of the top names in the sport this year, the World Skiing Invitational titles and $50,000 in cash were anybodys to win as long as you risked enough.
This year the mens events were dominated by skiers out of Vernon, B.C. mostly graduates of Silver Stars exceptional freestyle club, and if the performance of 16-year-old Justin Dorey is any indication then that well of talent is far from running dry.
Vernons T.J. Schiller is just 18 years old, but has already established himself as one of the top freeskiers in the world. He takes off and lands switch with ease, goes big, and can pull off some of the toughest tricks in the book. He has a lot of style, and somehow always leaves you with the impression that hes still holding something back.
From the start of the contest, Schiller established himself as the skier to beat in the WSI slopestyle. After leading the field in the finals, Schiller went on to post the best result in the superfinal as an afternoon storm continued to pile snow on the course, putting down cab 7s, huge corked 9s and more. Schiller has a switch 1080 in his bag of tricks, but didnt get a chance to break it out over the big tables.
Because of the changing conditions and the difficulty in keeping speed, all of the athletes scrubbed at least one landing in the one-run superfinal, but Schiller still managed to beat his closest competitor, Peter Olenick, by 99 points. John Spriggs, a newcomer to the sport, was third.
Riley Leboe, who advanced from the qualifier the day before to make the finals, was fourth, followed by Sammy Carlson.
In the womens event, favourite Sarah Burke dropped out after aggravating a heel injury, leaving the field wide open for Marie Martinod of France. Martinod took the womens title by more than 50 points over Denise Jaworsky and Heather La Hart.
When the competition had wrapped up, John Spriggs let it all hang out in the athlete-judged Big Hit quarterpipe contest to win a trip for two to Mexico. Spriggs, who hails from Vail, was getting about five more feet out of the quarterpipe than everyone else.
Mens Slopestyle Superfinals
1. TJ Schiller 466 points
2. Peter Olenick 367
3. John Spriggs 335