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.
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.
David Carrier-Porcheron – DCP is another strong Whistler rider, sponsored by Burton, Spy, Hurley and Empire. Although he is just 23 he’s already one of the biggest names in Canada. He competes in the big events, but is better known for making movies.
Guy Deschenes – Deschenes is 24, calls Pemberton home and has been featured riding backcountry in several videos including the latest Treetop Films production. He can also ride the park and pipe with the best of them and was sixth in the Superpipe last year and third the year before that. He’s sponsored by The Circle and Scott USA.
Keir Dillon – Vancouver-based Dillon was injured for last season’s Ripzone and his 15-foot McTwists out of the pipe were sorely missed. Sponsored exclusively by Burton, Dillon is one of the top pros on the circuit today. So far this season he was third in the X-Games Superpipe, third in the U.S. Open Superpipe, first in the World Superpipe Championships… you get the idea.
Josh Duncan – Duncan, of Calgary and Whistler, was fifth in the Ripzone Superpipe last season, is a member of the national development team, and looks to be a contender again this year. He is sponsored by Endeavour, Grubwear, Boris Brother’s Clothing, the Canadian National Snowboard Team and The Source.
Steve Fisher – 21-year-old Fisher needs no introduction as the 2003 X-Games Superpipe Champion. Along with pro competitions this Minnesota native also spends time on the FIS circuit, where he was the junior halfpipe world champion in 2002 and third in the World Championships in 2003. He’s sponsored by Head and Smith. Other accomplishments this year include a win on the last stop of the Vans Triple Crown and a second place finish in the U.S. Open.
Andrew Hardingham – Hardingham lives in Banff and is currently sponsored by Ride, Drop, Etnies, 32, Technine, Oakley and Rudeboys. He’s a fixture in pro contests, and was 13 th in the X-Games Superpipe this year. Not only does he have the skills to compete against the best in the world, Hardingham was also born to entertain. If the conditions get foggy watch out for his neon pink jacket.
Trevor Jennings – Jennings rides for Head, hails from Ontario and calls Whistler home these days. He earned his invite with solid results in pro events and at home.
Danny Kass – Danny Kass is another rider that doesn’t need an introduction. In the past year the 21-year-old won his third U.S. Open title, the Vans Triple Crown title, and finished second at the X-Games. He also won a silver medal at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. He specializes in the pipe, but is just as unbeatable in slopestyle and big air events. He is sponsored by Grenade.
Justin Lamoureux – 27-year-old Justin Lamoureux has been one of the top Canadian riders for almost a decade, with two national halfpipe titles to his credit, World Cup medals, and top results in too many pro and amateur contests to name. He was fourth in the Ripzone Superpipe for the past two years and second the year before that, and is always a threat to win. He is sponsored by Head Snowboards, Reef, CFR Sled Racks, Rude Boys and MGT.
Hugo Lemay – Lemay hails from Beauport, Quebec and rides for Flow, Scott and the Canadian National Snowboard Team. He was one of Canada’s top halfpipe athletes on the World Cup this season.
Crispin Lipscomb – A member of the national team, Whistler’s Lipscomb is one of Canada’s top riders on the World Cup circuit. He was third in the Ripzone Superpipe last season, then went on to win a snowmobile in the athlete-judged SuperHit competition. He rides for Elan, Westbeach, Vans, Spy and Pryme Helmets.
David Melancon – Melancon, 26, is also from Whistler and in the last two years he’s finished seventh and fifth in the Ripzone Superpipe. He’s known for his big spins, combos, and stylish grabs, and is sponsored by Helly Hansen, Oakley, Drop, WE, Bluebird, Technine, Base, Empire and Jeenyus.
Jan Michaelis – Jan was in Whistler for the FIS World Cup contest in December, and finished third overall. He is one of a group of elite German riders that is starting to make a real impact on the snowboard world. He is sponsored by Head Snowboards, Oakley, Ratiopharm and Toyota.
Daniel Migneault – A native of Baie-Comeau, Quebec, Migneault was ninth in the Superpipe last year and second in the Big Air the year before. He has represented Canada at the Olympics, World Cup and pro contests, and has always performed well. He rides for Oakley.
Guillaume Morisset – Morisset currently resides in Stoneham, Quebec and has been successful on both the World Cup and pro circuits in the past, in both halfpipe and slopestyle events. In the past year he was sixth in the Mammoth Grand Prix Superpipe and first in a Vans Triple Crown slopestyle and Superpipe. His sponsors are Salomon and Savier.
Abe Teter – A member of Vermont’s famous Teter clan, along with his brother Elijah and sister Hannah, 25-year-old Abe usually finishes in the top-10 of any contest he enters. At six-foot-three, he’s a head and shoulders taller than most competitors, but he’s graceful as well. In the past year he was sixth in the Mammoth Triple Crown and third in the U.S. Grand Prix, and he’s sponsored by Palmer Snowboards.
Elijah Teter – This year Elijah was 13 th and the Mammoth Grand Prix, third in the World Cup, and a contender in ever competition he entered. He’s the middle Teter at just 19 years of age, and is sponsored by Palmer, the U.S. Snowboard Team, Oakley and Nixon.
Luke Wynen – Wynen’s name pops up in the top-10 of just about every major pro competition this year. Sponsored by Unity Snowboards, Smith, Jays Snowboard Shop, KINeSYS, and Jedidiah Causual Clothing, this Mammoth, California rider was eighth in the X-Games, second in the Vans Triple Crown standings, fourth in the World Superpipe Championships, fifth in the Mammoth Grand Prix… the list goes on and on.
The stand-by list for the men’s Superpipe includes locals Jesse Kumlea, Mike Michalchuk, Kelly Scchovanek, Dan Raymond and Rube Goldberg.
In addition, the pros will be joined in Sunday’s final by 10 additional riders from the qualifier round on Saturday.
The Women’s invite list is also solid this year:
Tricia Byrnes – Byrnes, 29, has been one of the top women on the pro circuit for 10 years now, competing in every X-Games and U.S. Open ever held. She was sixth in the halfpipe at the last Olympics, and hasn’t finished out of the top-10 in any pro contests since. She was second in the U.S. Open Superpipe this year. Her current sponsors include Cold As Ice, Bolle, Stratton, Kombi and Clif Bar.
Sarah Conrad – Hailing from Nova Scotia, Conrad is one of Canada’s top up and coming riders, just missing the medals in World Cup competition. Still, she was Canada’s top-ranked halfpipe athlete and 16 th overall. She is sponsored by Ride, Nixon, Proskates and EC Lips.
Michelle Ford – This Montreal rider has been turning heads since making her debut on the pro circuit. She’s still a newcomer to the sport but has a competitive gymnastics background and no fear. Her sponsors are DIZ Skate and Snow Shop, Gauge Clothing, ICA Head Wear and Volcom.
Anna Hellman – A member of the Swedish Team, Hellman doesn’t often compete in pro North American contests which is probably lucky for the other girls. She started off her season with a fourth-place finish on the World Cup circuit. She rides for Head, Oakley and Pinkfling Bitchwear.
Sarah Kopinya – Whistler born and raised, 18-year-old Kopinya is one of Canada’s top prospects as a member of the national development team. Her CV includes a fifth place in the national championships this season and a third place finish last year in the World Junior Championships. Sponsors include Burton, Anon and Vital Boardlife.
Avery MacKenzie – Avery is an up and coming rider from Maine who is starting to make waves in pro contests. She rides for Endless.
Amanda Mourant – A coach with the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club, Mourant is another emerging force on the pro circuit with skills to compete in slopestyle and halfpipe competitions. She rides for Burton, Smith and Mocca Forte.
Mercedes Nicoll – Whistler’s Nicoll, 20, won the Canadian women’s halfpipe title this year after starting off her season with a third place finish at the World Cup at home in December. She also finished third at the Mammoth Grand Prix. Sponsors include K2, 32, Clive, Drake, The Circle and Velvet.
Maelle Ricker – Dividing her time between Whistler and Vancouver, Ricker was second in last year’s Ripzone Superpipe. This year she was third in the national championships and one of Canada’s top riders on the World Cup circuit. She rides for Oakley, Head and Whistler-Blackcomb.
Hannah Teter – Only 17 years old, Teter is already one of the most dominating snowboarders in the world. This season she’s already won the X-Games, the Grand Prix title, Vans Triple Crown events, and finished fourth in the U.S. Open. Her list of sponsors includes Burton, the U.S. Snowboard Team, Nikita, Mountain Dew and Nixon.
Dominique Vallee – At home in the pipe, park or snowboard cross course, Whistler’s Vallee is always in the running for the podium. She hasn’t competed as often this past season as other years, but still managed to finish third in the Mammoth Grand Prix boardercross. She is sponsored by Oakley Eyewear and Apparel and Whistler’s Prior Snowboards.
Halley Van Muyen – New to the national development team and World Cup circuit this year Ontario’s Halley Van Muyen is just starting to post strong results. Her best finish in the nationals is fourth.
The women’s stand-by list includes Hanna Lundmark of Sweden, plus the top eight qualifiers from Saturday.
The Big Air competition is also looking strong with 21 starters on the list including a few of the Superpipe athletes, Andrew Hardingham and Guillaume Morisset.
Neil Connolly – Neil lives in Whistler, is a member of the national development team, and was fourth overall on the new big air circuit this year, where he earned a silver medal. He’s sponsored by Elan and Billabong.
Chris Dufficy – Another Whistler jumper, Dufficy of video fame was named to the Whistler-Blackcomb Pro Team this year. He’s also part of the infamous Wildcats Team and rides for Sims.
Josh Feliciano – Known to his peers as ‘Fletch’, Feliciano is just 19 but already has an impressive resume as a pro rider. The Tahoe City, Nevada native was fourth in the Ripzone big air last year after a mistake cost him in the semi-finals. The previous year he won both the Sims World Championships and the Vans Triple Crown big air events. He also rides for Sims.
Roger Hjelmstadstuen – This Norwegian big air specialist is still one of the top riders in the world, although he spends more time making movies than competing these days. Sponsors include Head, Helly Hansen, Airwalk, Dragon and Dakine.
Lukas Huffman – Lukas hails from the U.S. but has called Whistler home in the past. He is best known for his backcountry antics and video segments, but he can pretty much ride anywhere and knows how to land a big jump. He is sponsored by Nitro, Legion, Northwave, Drake, Bakoda and Anon.
Tyler Massey – Whistler born and raised, Massey recently graduated from the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club, where he now helps out as a coach. He has competed in all kinds of events at the pro-am level, and is ready to move into the big time. His sponsors are Nitro and Oakley.
Marc Frank Montoya – Montoya is a Denver street punk who discovered snowboarding in high school and has never looked back. He is regularly featured in videos and magazines, and competes whenever he gets the chance. Recently he won the Boost Mobile Pro Rail Jam in Chicago. He is sponsored by Sims.
Eero Niemela of Finland one of the top European jumpers, recently finishing sixth in the Nokia Air and Style Snowboard Festival. His sponsors are Rossignol and Volcom.
Henki Oedegaard – Another Norwegian jumper, Oedergaard was fifth in last year’s Ripzone Big Air and could have won if his landings were a little bit cleaner. His sponsors are Ripzone, Rome SDS, Version and SP.
Mike Osachuk – Ontario’s Mike Osachuk was third in Whistler last year with the biggest switch backside 720 of the contest. He rides for Forum, United, DC, OGIO, Stunt Wax and Boardzone.
Mikey Rencz – Born and raised in Whistler, Rencz made a name for himself at a young age and continues to impress, riding for Burton, Electric, Gravis, 2MC, Neff and The Circle. Recently he was eighth in the U.S. Open Slopestyle.
Todd Richards – 34-year-old T.R. has been a fixture on the pro snowboard circuit since the very beginning, sometimes evolving with the sport and sometimes leading the way. He has too many credits to mention, and rides for Rossignol.
Benji Ritchie – Benji Ritchie is better known for his videos and magazine spreads than competitions, and he’s quickly becoming recognized by the industry for his backcountry skills. He rides for Rossignol and Billabong.
Nate Sheehan – American rider Nate Sheehan is strong in the park as well as the backcountry, most recently finishing fourth in the X-Games Slopestyle and sixth in the U.S. Open. He is sponsored by Artec, Ripcurl, Version, Savier and Dakine.
Mike Stastook – This Calgary rider is as at home on the icy Canada Olympic Park tables as he is making movie magic in the backcountry. His sponsors include Ripzone, Stunt Wax, Jeenyus, Lifetime, WMH Productions and Chastity Belts.
Marc-Andre Tarte – 24-year-old Tarte is on fire since he won the Ripzone Big Air in 2003, finishing fifth at the Nokia Big Air and Style this past season. Last year he reverted on a 1260, stomped a 1080, and made his huge 900 and 720 spins look easy. Expect him to be a contender again this year. He is sponsored by Westbeach.
Paavo Tikkanen – This Finnish star is a member of the Wildcats, is featured in several videos, and can make any kind of terrain look easy. He rides for Endeavour, Volcom, Iris and Drop.
Travis Williams – This Whistler rider was second in the Ripzone Big Air last season with solid 900s and could be a threat once again. He’s 23 and rides for Option/NFA, APX, Drake, VonZipper, OGIO, Freestyle Watches and Evolution.
Chris Wimbles – Another Whistler rider, Chris has jumped in and out of competitions in the last few years, usually finishing well in the top-10. He rides for K2, Holden, Smith and 2MC.
The stand-by list is also impressive, including Daryl Trinidad, Kevin Sansalone, Iikka Backstrom, Dionne Delesalle, Justin Lamoureux, Jon Roth, Kelly Schovenek, Scott Gaffney, Chris Brown, Guy Deschenes, Patrick McCarthy, Nick Gregory, David Melancon and Abe Teter.
The actual list of athletes could change before the weekend.
For more information on the Ripzone Snowboard Invitational, visit www.whistler2004.com.