Junior freestyle nationals coming 

14 WBFSC athletes to showcase skills at home

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - ALL TOGETHER Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Ski Club members will look to dominate the podium at this weekend's nationals.
  • File photo
  • ALL TOGETHER Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Ski Club members will look to dominate the podium at this weekend's nationals.

The top young freestyle athletes in Canada will descend on Whistler to show off their skills this weekend.

And 14 members of the Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Ski Club (WBFSC), and one local member of the provincial team, will be here to greet them for slopestyle, halfpipe and big air competition.

WBFSC head coach Jeff Fairbairn is of two minds about the weekend, acknowledging the locals should have a good shot at success at home, though a contingent of capable competitors will have something to say about it.

"I don't want to overestimate our results. I think we're going to do (well) but across Canada, the talent is pretty crazy. You have to believe being in our backyard, we have an advantage since they know the course. But at the same time, the skill level of some of these other kids, especially those who are arriving from Calgary and Alberta, they're pretty good," he said. "Either way, it's going to be a good competition."

Fairbairn said the courses, for the most part, will be what the WBFSC athletes have been recently training on, but some of the courses for the younger riders will see some small adjustments before competition begins.

"There are some minor changes, but that's primarily for the younger kids. The course is pretty much what it has been for the past couple weeks," he said.

As the first major event of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival, Fairbairn hopes the event will get a little added boost.

"It's really good that the kids get that exposure going into it. It's a change from what we've had in the past," he said. "It allows the kids to feel more involved with the festival and it's a step in the right direction."

The club is certainly stocked with skiers who find themselves on the podium more often than not, but there are some others like Josephine Howell, Julien Chartrand and Ben Lynch who could come in a little bit under the radar, rise to the occasion and do some damage on the big stage.

"I think they'll be the ones who have the power to surprise," Fairbairn said.

Other local competitors include Chase and Anders Ujejski, Kai Smart, Kai Martin, Owen Ternoway, Steven Kahnert, Hugh Saint Jacques, Skye Clarke, Chase Capicik, Cassidy Butterworth and Lynette Conn, while Luke Smart will represent Team BC.

The slopestyle event will take place April 7, followed by big air on April 8 and halfpipe on April 9. All competitions will take place on Blackcomb Mountain and members of the public are invited to watch.

Fairbairn said all team members have put in plenty of sweat equity this season and have high hopes of seeing it pay off in front of the country.

"It's amazing and it's been a long season. The kids have been working very, very hard with lots of travelling, lots of missed school. It's exciting that the season's coming to an end and what better way than to have a premier event like this right at the end?" he said.

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