Whistler's World Ski & Snowboard Festival Takes Off

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WHISTLER, BC, April 17, 2001 -- The second annual World Skiing Invitational went off under bluebird skies this weekend,officially launching Whistler's spring mega-event, the TELUS World Ski &Snowboard Festival. Skiers went huge for the record crowd of 6,000 at thebase of Whistler Mountain and $50,000C in prize money, providing rivetingentertainment for all who witnessed the event.

Canadians swept the top three at Saturday's Orage Big Air with VincentDorion throwing a switch 900 tail grab to take first place, J.F. Cusson finishedsecond, and 17-year-old David Crichton took third.

"Crichton was leading throughout the entire competition until the Superfinaljump," says Mike Douglas, World Skiing Invitational Style Council and eventJudge. "Dorion gained momentum throughout the competition and Crichton knewhe had to go even bigger to maintain the lead -- he just couldn't stick thelanding on the final jump, and Dorion's was near-perfect."

Cusson's final jump was a rodeo 900 indy grab which secured his second placeposition. It was a big day for Cusson, considered one of the world's threemost popular skiers, as it was the first major result he had secured sincewinning the X-Games in 1999. When asked about what the win meant, Cussonsimply proclaimed (with his words and his performance), "I'm back."

Sunday's Atomic Slopestyle event again took place under sunny skies inBlackcomb's Nintendo 64 Terrain Park. The course conditions were excellentand athletes were calling it one of the most challenging Slopestyle coursesever. Whistler/Blackcomb threw in a surprise quarterpipe Big Hitrider-judged jam session to conclude the competition, getting rave reviewsfrom the many photographers covering the event.

David Crichton proved that his excellent performance the day before was nofluke by taking first place in the Atomic Slopestyle. Canadian Philippe Bélanger came in second and American Boyd Easley was third.

"Crichton's been performing incredibly well in training, but has fallenshort in competition," says Douglas. "It all came together for him thisweekend with his first and third place finishes. Bélanger's second place finish wasn't a surprise -- he's one of the most stylish riders in the world, and only missed the top spot because he chose more stylish tricks than technical ones. Easley was incredibly consistent throughout the day putting down clean, solid runs."

Bélanger also won the rider-judged Big Hit quarterpipe jam with hisspectacular flight over the top of the photographers at the top of thequarterpipe, and his roll down the other side. Thankfully, Bélanger is fine, and his height and courage got the thumbs up from his fellow competitors to take the $3,000 prize.

Accolades for the second annual World Skiing Invitational came pouring infrom the industry. Event emcee Uncle E proclaimed "it was the best skicompetition of the year."

Bradford Fayfield of Freeskier Magazine was also thrilled with the event. "Whistler is a big part of the new-school skiing movement," he said, "and the World Skiing Invitational captures the entire spirit of the sport. The athleteswere stoked to see such a huge crowd for a skiing event -- it does greatthings for the profile of the sport."

The World Skiing Invitational kicked off Whistler's spring festival, theTELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival which is taking place April 13-22. For ten days Whistler is powered by the internationally-televised World SkiingInvitational and World Snowboarding Championship, the Yahoo! Canada LiveConcert Series, action sport photography events, film premieres, industrysymposiums and non-stop parties. Check out the full results and informationat www.wssf.com.