Canadian Freeskiing Championships bring top freeskiers to Whistler 

Law hopes to elevate skiing and sport

The key to winning a big mountain freeskiing contest is to take the hardest lines and make them look easy – which is easier said than done.

After two days of qualifiers, the Canadian Freeskiing Championship kicks off today (Jan. 9) with a free for all in Blackcomb’s treacherous Ruby Bowl. The winner will be crowned tomorrow after another freeskiing contest in Diamond Bowl.

The event includes the top skiers from the qualifying runs on The Bite and Chainsaw Ridge, and a long list of pre-qualified athletes with high rankings on North American, European and World Tour circuits. As always, Whistler skiers will be well represented.

The contests will get underway at approximately 9:30 a.m. each day, with possible delays for snow and lifts, and wrap up at approximately 2 p.m.

For each run, the judges will give the skiers a score in five categories – line choice, form, technique, aggressiveness and fluidity. A typical line includes a few good drops, steeps and chutes, and exposed routes through rocks and trees. The winners at the end of the championships are the male and female skiers with the highest combined scores over two days.

While it’s good to get an early lead, nothing is over until it’s over. Even if a skier has a poor first run, they still have a chance to come back the next day. Last season Whistler’s Pierre-Yves Leblanc, who was the defending champion, ended a frustrating first run in the middle of the pack. He came back with an incredibly strong second run, posting the second-highest score of the day, and finished in a tie for third place.

Leblanc is sidelined with an injury this season, and will join the judging crew of Jeff Holden Lee Anne Patterson, Joe Lammers and Michel Beaudry. Hugo Harrison, a two-time world champion, is expected to return this year after missing last season due to an injury.

Whistler’s other top skiers to pre-qualify this year include Leif-Zapf Gilje, who was fifth last year, and Jonny Law.

Law was 11 th in Whistler last season, but went on to win the U.S. Freeskiing Championships at Snowbird, Utah and place second at Les Arcs, France. He finished third overall in the International Freeskiers Association (IFSA) world tour.

Although he knows by now that he’s up to the challenge, Law says he still gets nervous before a contest.

"It’s not winning or wondering how I’m going to do that makes me nervous, it’s challenging myself, stepping up my comfort level, and with it the level of anxiety," said Law.

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