By Adam Daff and Andrew Mitchell
An event that launched the careers of athletes such as Jenn Ashton and Hugo Harrisson has been cancelled by Whistler-Blackcomb because of a clash with the FIS World Snowboard Championships in January.
The Canadian Freeskiing Championships has been a huge draw for local and international athletes during the past eight years but this year the snowboard championships are on and Whistler-Blackcomb could not find sponsors to help move the freeskiing event.
One of Canadas best freeskiers, Ian McIntosh, has been acting on behalf of the International Free Skiers Association, or IFSA, during the past week and is starting a petition to try and get the event back.
"The whole deal is with this new halfpipe and the fact that theyre bringing the world snowboard championships to town the same week as our event (the Canadian Freeskiing Championships) normally happens," said McIntosh.
"So its conflicting and theyre saying were going to put (the snowboard championships) in priority and you guys dont get your event.
"Which to me is kinda bull----.
"For us as athletes this competition has gone on for eight years and the Canadian athletes, along with the French boys, rule the big mountain world tour and for there not to be a Canadian stop, its going to be very bad for a lot of people."
There are other events on the IFSA world tour but many young Canadian athletes cant afford to travel to other events. Qualifying is also a huge issue.
"Last year here is where I got my start," said McIntosh.
McIntosh finished second in Whistler and went on to finish second overall on the world tour last year, and later in the season he became the first North American athlete invited to compete as a skier in a prestigious big mountain snowboarding competition in France.
"I know a lot of kids who want to get their start on the world tour and theyre not willing to try and travel down to Snowbird (Utah) to do a qualifier down there," he said. "Because it costs too much money to see if youre maybe going to get into a qualifier so you can make an event.
"Not to mention when you go to Snowbird the qualifiers are already filled with athletes from that area, so its impossible to get on anyway.
"It really will leave all these skiers with no option."
Canadian freeskiers and their pictures and videos have done a lot to promote the Whistler-Blackcomb brand and McIntosh said Whistler-Blackcomb should be trying to accommodate their biggest annual competition.
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