FREERIDE WORLD TOUR HAKUBA RECAP
The fabled Hakuba Valley of Japan welcomed 41 of the best big mountain skiers and snowboarders for the first stop of the...
Some of the best skiers and snowboarders in the world are ready to drop into Whistler this spring as the World Ski & Snowboard Festival (WSSF) gets ready to launch on April 10th – 14th, 2019, and we’re inviting the world to come along for the ride. We’re talking Olympians, X Games champions and WSSF Big Air alum—athletes who are driving the progression of their respective sports, and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible on snow.
Some big names locked in already for this year include:
• Laurie Blouin (CAN) – 2019 X Games Big Air gold medalist and Pyeongchang Olympics Slopestyle silver medalist (snowboard)
• Evan McEachran (CAN) – 2019 X Games fourth place and 2018 WSSF Big Air Men’s Ski reigning champion (ski)
• Elena Gaskell (CAN) – 2019 X Games Big Air seventh place and 2018 WSSF Big Air Women’s Ski reigning champion (ski)
• Teal Harle (CAN) – Pyeongchang Olympics Slopestyle fifth place finisher (ski)
• Yuki Tsubota (CAN) – Pyeongchang and Sochi Olympics sixth place finisher and Whistler local (ski)
With tantalizing prizing, electric crowds, and the world watching, this year’s Big Air events are shaping up to be must-see viewing. Mark your calendars for the snowboard event taking center stage on Friday, April 12, with ski dropping into the Arena Snow Parks-built jump the following day.
With nearly $150K up for grabs, competition will be fierce among competitors to claim a piece of the pie. The breakdown sees a whopping $20K to each first-place finisher. As an organization committed to supporting gender equality in sport, WSSF will be awarding equal prizing for men’s and women’s podium finishers.
Where it’s All Going Down
Located at the base of Whistler Mountain the towering 60-foot jump is within prime viewing location of Skiers Plaza where an anticipated crowd of over 10,000 will be looking on. Spectators can watch all the action from Skiers Plaza itself, or from the comfort of the adjacent patios such as the legendary Garibaldi Lift Co.
For those that can’t be amongst the action in Whistler, they can still catch the show with the online broadcast at WSSF.com and EDGEsport.com. Tune in at 4 p.m. Pacific /7 p.m. Eastern /1 a.m. CEST to see the show.
A Format Primed For Drama
This event will run as an invitational jam format with 10 men and six women. Each competitor will take five runs, with at least one taken switch (opposite foot forward for snowboards, and backwards for skiers).
To determine the winners the judges will be taking the top two scores from their five runs. With some chances to play with, you can expect to see competitors throwing in some riskier, boundary pushing tricks in the hopes of taking home the coveted WSSF hardware.
Weaving in Local Traditions
New for this year, the names for each event have been re-imagined. Working with the local Squamish and Lil’Wat First Nations, and drawing inspiration from their traditional imagery and folklore, the word for “eagle” was chosen from each Nation. Holding strong significance for the both Nations, the high soaring eagle was chosen for its alignment with the athleticism and artistry competitors bring to these storied events.
The ski event is now the Sp’akwus Ski Invitational, coming from the Squamish Nation, while the snowboard event will be the Halaw Snowboard Invitational, from the Lil’Wat Nation.
“The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is honoured to welcome spectators and competing athletes of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival to our shared territories,” said Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) Executive Director Brady Smith.
“This Festival creates greater awareness of our living cultures and provides us a platform to share them with the world, fulfilling our organization’s purpose to encourage cultural understanding amongst all people.”
The Ultimate Après
Also new for this year, the events will be staged in the après-hour, in keeping with the legendary scene Whistler is known for. For 2019, the Halaw Snowboard Invitational and the Sp’akwus Ski Invitational will take place on April 12 and 13, respectively, from 4 to 6 p.m., providing the most epic backdrop to après, and leading into the evening’s entertainment.
This change makes it easier for festival-goers to take part in everything the festival has to offer. Festival-goers can make the most of the longer spring days to embrace the festival mantra of “Soak it in. Go all out. Make it count.” Shred the slopes, watch the best athletes in the world throw down, get amongst Whistler’s famed après, check out WSSF’s cultural offerings at the Whistler Conference Centre, then dive into WSSF after-dark. It’s the spirit of the season in Whistler.
This year, the Big Air competitions will be supported by the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
“The Resort Municipality of Whistler, in partnership with funding from the Province of British Columbia, is proud to support the Big Air competitions at this year’s World Ski and Snowboard Festival,” said Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton.
“The Big Air competitions and this landmark Whistler festival have become synonymous with spring in Whistler. The festival celebrates our ski, snowboard and mountain culture, and generates a significant amount of economic benefit to Whistler and the Province year after year. I encourage everyone to attend the Big Air competitions, and I look forward to another great World Ski and Snowboard Festival this April.”
For those looking to compete in WSSF, registration is also open for the Saudan Couloir Race Extreme, and Monster Energy Boarderstyle World Championships. Get the details on the full roster of sports events set to go down at WSSF by clicking here, and get the full schedule here.