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Freeskiers blown out of France

Gale force winds have forced organizers of the third and final round of the World Freeskiing Tour to move the event from France to the US.

Gale force winds have forced organizers of the third and final round of the World Freeskiing Tour to move the event from France to the US.

The move to Kirkwood, California is a disaster for the organizers of the Les Arcs round because it was going to be the culmination of six months of work.

But many of the European competitors and the hoards of locals, who, like many of Whistler’s best skiers, were hoping to pit their talents against the best, have taken the biggest hit from this setback.

In the last round of the freeskiing championships the Europeans, particularly the French, set the pace.

French superstars Romain Maitre and Manu Gaidet finished first and second respectively in the men’s division and in the women’s division Norway’s Karlsen Marte Lise finished fifth and was the top European. 8

The upside to the move to Kirkwood is that it will be a good test case because the IFSA intends to use the resort for a World Tour freeskiing event next year.

The IFSA was in favour of holding a fourth tour event at Kirkwood this year but their efforts were stymied because many of the elite European skiers felt they would not have the resources to attend the event.

International Free Skiers Association President Dave Swanwick said he was concerned about how the move would effect the competition, but conceded that the organizers were left with no choice.

"The biggest concern for the Europeans skiers is that a lot of them don’t have the resources for another trip," Swanwick said.

"The top guys won’t have a problem, but it’s the guys down at 15-20 where it will be tough call to find the sponsors and money to make it.

"It is a real bummer but we have little choice but to move onto Kirkwood."

Swanwick said a freeskiing event in France had been cancelled before but that was due to organizational issues rather than the weather.

"This is another disaster of similar calibre to what’s happened before but this is because of the weather — there was a great organizational team in place," he said.

"The organizing team did a great job and I know they were heart-broken when they had to call it off because they’d been working at it for six months.

"But Kirkwood is definitely a worthy place to have the contest, I mean we understand the concerns of the Euros but now that France has been cancelled it makes a lot of sense."

The event will be held in an area called the Cirque, which is permanently out of bounds to recreational skiers.

"The Cirque is open only for this event, which is great because we’ve had a lot of guys wanting to sign up just so they would be able to (legally) ski in there."

Despite the setback this year Swanwick added that the IFSA intends to return to a five-stop schedule for next year’s tour.

"Next year we’ll start in Canada, move to Snowbird, then Les Arcs, Kirkwood and there’ll be another location in Eastern Europe."