Canada Day is synonymous with a lot of different things, like parades and firework displays, barbecues and waving flags. But if Risto Scott and sponsors have their way Canada Day in Whistler will also be known for Ante Up - a TTR World Snowboard Tour competition that kicks off the next season of competition.
"Last year was the first year for the event (on the Blackcomb glacier), and we moved to Whistler so we could include spectators," said Scott. "The goal is to make this an annual event that builds every year."
There will be food, refreshments, a beer tent and a live DJ shows including hip-hop star k-os. But the main event is a snowboard big air event outside the Roundhouse, where 30 top-ranked athletes will battle it out for $50,000.
This is a big deal. On the TTR World Tour, events can have one to six stars, with six star events representing the biggest events in the world like the Shaun White Air and Style, Burton European Open and other events. Ante Up is a five-star event, which puts it on the same plane as the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix and Champs Leysin.
Some of the top snowboarders in the world are taking part in Ante Up, which represents the first opportunity for riders to collect overall TTR points.
Two of the snowboarders taking part are Canadians Mark McMorris and Sebastian "Toots" Toutant, who finished the season ranked fourth and fifth in the TTR standings.
McMorris won the six-star Billabong Air & Style Innsbruck event last year and placed second in the slopestyle at the Burton U.S. Open and second at O'Neill Evolution. He also placed third in last year's Ante Up.
Toutant's biggest result was in X Games last year. His slopestyle win didn't count for TTR points, but he placed first in the O'Neill Evolution slopestyle and first in the Oakley and Shaun White Air & Style Beijing - and he's the defending Ante Up champion.
Other top riders taking part include American's Scott Lago, Chas Guldemond, Eric Willett and Sage Kotsenburg; Canadian up-and-comers Charles Reid and Matts Kulisek; Belgian star Seppe Smits; Norway's Gjermund Braaten; Finland's Roope Tonteri, and many others.
The organizers also made sure to invite local talent, including Craig Beaulieu - a Billabong athlete who most recently won the Monster Energy Slopestyle during the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, and Jon Versteeg. The complete list is at www.billabong.com/anteup/.
"There is a lot of great local talent here, so it only makes sense to have some involved in this as well," said Scott. "For TTR it's important to run good events, but also to be able, regardless of where athletes rank in the world, to have local talent involved as well. A lot of great riders have come up that way."
The jump will be open for practice from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the competition running from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. All 30 riders will get two runs in the qualifier with only the best run counting. From there, the top 10 will move to the three-run final, again with only the best of three counting towards the final rankings.
The event will be filmed and webcast around the world. You never know how many will tune in, but Scott said it could be anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000.
The result is that the organizers wanted to put on a show, with live music and lots going on.
This is the second year for Ante Up. The snow in the alpine this year made it possible to move the venue to the Roundhouse on Whistler.
The jump is about 25 metres, with a gap between the ramp and the landing area.
All season pass holders from 2010-2011 can attend the event for free, taking the gondola from Whistler Village. Edge Card holders are entitled to a 50 per cent discount and if you go to the website (www.billabong.cokm/anteup/) you can save another $10 off a sightseeing pass by downloading the voucher.
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