WHISTLER, BC April 26, 2004 — The best freeskiers on the planet converged on Whistler this weekend for the 5th annual World Skiing Invitational — freeskiing's pre-eminent contest. Wrapping-up the 9th annual TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival with a supercharged blast of action, the Invitational drew massive crowds to Whistler to take in the events and cheer on their favorite skiers.
The World Skiing Invitational dished out $50,000 in cash to the skiers who threw down the biggest airs and the best tricks. Featuring the Salomon Superpipe, SuperHit, and the legendary nighttime Salomon Big Air, the Invitational was an exciting showdown of freeskier action and a supercharged conclusion to the competitive season. "This year's event was incredible, said Andrew Stewart, Marketing Manager for Salomon Canada. "I'm continuously impressed by the athletes' dedication and drive, pushing the progressive ski movement to new heights. Salomon is committed to the sport's evolution and is proud to present the Big Air and Superpipe competitions at the World Skiing Invitational.
A summary of the action-packed line-up appears below.
Salomon Superpipe Finals — Men
The pros took advantage of the stellar Blackcomb Superpipe condition, busting out everything from alley-oops to corked 900s with huge amplitude — some up to 20 feet above the pipe wall. Spectators flanked both sides and the bottom of the pipe, cheering on the skiers and encouraging them to go big.
Tanner Hall, Simon Dumont and Charles Gagnier were locked in a three-way battle for who could boost the biggest air, with all of them sailing up to 20-feet above the pipe wall. Tanner took first with an exciting run that started with a corked 540, followed by massive and smooth 900s. Dumont, with his 720s and 900s with monstrous amplitude, landed in second. Gagnier wowed the crowd with silky smooth back-to-back 900s and took third. "It couldn't be better, said Hall, "winning the season closer and seeing the pros pushing the sport to the next level.
Salomon Superpipe Finals — Women
The women impressed the crowd surrounding the pipe with their big airs and smooth stylish tricks. Sarah Burke set the standard early in the competition with massive 720s. Marie Martinod of France answered back with rapid-fire spins and gigantic air. Burke and Martinod tied on their best run, but Martinod's next best run beat Burke by a mere two points. In the end, Martinod took first, Burke second, and Jamie Sundberg landed in third for her big air and technically demanding tricks.
"The pipe was great and I'm very happy to win, said Martinod. "Maybe next year we'll do a women's Big Air competition too — I'd love that.
Just when the crowd thought the action couldn't get any better, the pros launched into the SuperHit contest with a hunger to win the athlete-judged competition for the best single trick. The SuperHit turned into a grudge match between Tanner Hall and Simon Dumont, with both of them running up the pipe to squeeze in as many runs as possible. After finishing second to Hall in the Superpipe, Dumont laid it all out to win the SuperHit with an absolutely massive corked 900.
"An honorable mention also goes to Whistler local and rising star, Sean Pettit, said Head Judge Josh Loubek. "At only 11 years old, he's pulling 10-feet of air and big 720s. He'll be a serious contender in the years ahead.
Salomon Big Air Finals
The nighttime Salomon Big Air competition was the grand finale of the World Skiing Invitational and attracted a huge crowd to the base of Whistler to take in the big air action mixed with live music on the DKNY//JEANS concert stage, laser light show and gyrating dancers.
The pros went big with every trick in the book, from corked 900s to fakie 1080s. The intensity grew and the tricks got bigger as the night grew dark and the competition moved into the finals and super finals.. In the end, TJ Schiller beat out his childhood best friend Josh Bibby (both from Vernon, BC) for third with a solid fakie 1080. Simon Dumont stuck a huge fakie 900 to take second place — adding to his SuperHit win and his second place Superpipe finish. Jon Olsson launched a massive fakie 1080 with a smooth landing to win the Salomon Big Air competition for the second year in a row.
"I started with clean 900s, but soon realized that wouldn't be enough to win, so I went to 1080s and that did it, said Jon Olsson. "I'm going to celebrate tonight before the flight home to Sweden.
"The guys were all going big in the finals, said Head Judge Josh Loubek, "but Jon's big amplitude and clean style clinched it for him.