Boneyard Air Affair this weekend 

Top athletes assisted in course design

Mountain bike legend and slopestyle designer John Cowan won’t be on hand this weekend to see what athletes make of his new design for the Boneyard — he finished work on the course last week, headed to Russia to design another competition slopestyle course, and from there will make his way to Colorado to work on the course for the Crankworx festival at Winter Park.

It’s safe to say that Cowan will at least be at the Boneyard Air Affair mountain bike slopestyle in spirit, along with dozens of other pro riders who gave feedback on course design.

“We did everything from interviewing the riders to e-mailing a computer-generated scale model back and forth across North America to athletes to plan from top to bottom,” said Jeremy Roche, summer business development manager for Whistler-Blackcomb.

“We talked about the fundamentals, about what the athletes were looking for, and getting down into the nitty gritty of the elements of flow — the exact features they were looking for, the size of the features they were looking for — with the overall objective of creating an exciting course for competitions.”

Most of the course was opened to the public last week, although some obstacles have been purpose-built for Crankworx in August.

Based on rider feedback, Roche says riders are looking for features that are more “trickable”, flow into other features and that are smaller than in the past — not because riders don’t like to go big, but because bigger obstacles make it harder to do tricks like spins and inverts.

As well as testing the course, the Boneyard Air Affair will also test local riders. This year organizers of Crankworx have changed the format for the Kokanee Slopestyle from an open qualifier to invite-only. The top four riders from the Air Affair will also win invites to compete at Crankworx.

The Boneyard Air Affair takes place this weekend, June 14-15, and is open to male and female riders in four different age categories.

Riders can register in advance at Whistler-Blackcomb guest relations, or on Saturday morning from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Riders can train in the morning until the mandatory qualifier and assessment by judges to ensure that athletes have the ability to ride in the final the following day.

On Sunday, the course will be open for training from 10 to 11:30 a.m., and the competition gets underway at noon. Each rider gets two runs, and their best run counts. Awards will be presented at the Garibaldi Lift Company at 4 p.m.

The categories are 13-15, 16-18, open male and open female. Registration is $40, plus a valid lift ticket or pass for the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.

Spectators are welcome, with viewing areas along the side of the course.

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