Whistler boarders take on world in Ripzone 

X-Games winner, U.S. Open champion among riders

If you build it, they will come.

It’s been three years since the Ripzone Snowboard Invitational replaced the World Snowboard Championships as the main event in the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, but judging by the all-star lineup in this year’s event it’s already made a name for itself on the pro circuit.

With less than a week to go before the event, some of the top pro riders confirmed that they would be coming to Whistler to challenge the strong core of local riders in the Big Air, Superpipe and Jibzone events.

As always bragging rights and international exposure are at stake, along with $65,000 in prize money.

The games begin on Friday, April 16 with a training day in the Superpipe from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Big Air training from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The Superpipe Qualifier takes places the following day from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with spots for 60 men and 30 women not on the invite list. The top 10 men and eight women will qualify for the Superpipe Finals on Sunday.

At press time there were still open spots available. Visit www.whistler2004.com/ripzone.html.

The Big Air competition takes place on Saturday night under the lights at the base of Whistler Mountain. The warm-up starts at 7 p.m. and the competition at 8 p.m. Get there early as this event has been known to draw crowds of 10,000.

The Superpipe Finals take place the following day from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. It’s an open jam format, which means competitors get as many runs as they can squeeze in and only the best run counts.

The Superpipe will be followed by an athlete-judged Superhit contest. The best halfpipe trick, as determined by the athletes, will win one rider $5,000.

The Jibzone Rail Contest takes place that afternoon with training from 3:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m., followed by a jam until 5 p.m.

The talent pool for this year’s event is deep with the current U.S. Open, X-Games and Vans Triple Crown champions on the list, as well as a strong group of athletes from both the pro and World Cup circuits.

Superpipe Athletes:

David Aubry – Known to his friends as ‘Nalu’, Aubry is 26, lives in Whistler and is sponsored by Ride and Oakley. Although he is better known for his backcountry riding and off-the-wall video segments, Aubry is solid in the park and the halfpipe.

Dennis Bannock – Bannock, a former coach of the World Cup halfpipe team, is sponsored by Ripzone, Atomic, Nixon, Technine, Grenade, 32, Etnies, OGIO, and Cashless Inc. He’s a big guy who goes huge, rides all kinds of terrain, and finished third in last year’s Jibzone rail contest.

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