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Tighten your sphincter For the last two years Roman Torn has held the tightest line and the tightest — well, he’s been the man to beat in the Couloir Extreme race. Saturday (April 18) a bevy of his former Canadian national teammates will be trying to take the Couloir title away. Last year Torn beat Rob Boyd in the "2,500 vertical feet of thigh-burning hell" that is the Couloir Extreme. Felix Belczyk was third and Chris Kent fourth. All are former national team downhillers and all except Boyd — who was in the race for the first time last year — have won the Couloir Extreme. The defending champion in the pro snowboarder category is another World Cup race winner, Whistler Olympian Darren Chalmers. Chalmers beat another Olympian last year, a guy named Ross Rebagliati. Phil Steil, who also races on the World Cup circuit, was third. Kim McKnight was last year’s pro women’s champion. Tracy McEwan was second and Aleisha Cline third. The race isn’t just for World Cup skiers and boarders, but international racing experience comes in handy. The race is run on pure adrenaline. The start literally drops into the 48-degree Couloir Extreme run, the standard that all double black diamond runs are judged against. If racers make it down the Couloir — and the waist-deep ruts that develop — they’ll be going well over 100 km/h as they exit from the lateral moraine at the bottom of the Couloir onto the flats. It’s a combination of riding a flat ski and keeping an aerodynamic position that determines whether racers gain or lose time on the flats. Once across the flats they enter the technical section of Blowdown, where the thigh muscles start to scream. They have to hang on through the steep pitches of Blowdown before finally reaching the finish at the base of the Jersey Cream Chair. The rim of the Couloir at the start area is a good vantage point for spectators because they can watch competitors "tightening up" for their run, while sharing the racers’ start-gate perspective of the Couloir. Sunday, April 19 is reserved as a contingency race day in the event weather prevents running the race on April 18.

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