Premier events add flair to festival 

Big Air, Orage Masters kick off TWSSF

After years of hosting smaller and more local events, the 2009 the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival (TWSSF) is once again centre stage when it comes to hosting world class ski and snowboard events.

The Orage Masters are back for the second consecutive year, pitting pro factory ski teams against each other in an athlete-judged slopestyle and costume contest.

Snowboard legend Danny Kass, who has two silver Olympic halfpipe medals to his credit as well as every other honour the industry can bestow, is bringing the Grenade Games to town for the first time in its five year history - an event that brings out a mix of active pros, retired superstars, and top amateurs to take part in a fun and off-beat series of contests.

The World Skiing Invitational is also back with skier big air and halfpipe events bringing out the top athletes in the sport.

And, for the first time, the TWSSF is hosting a pro-am skateboard competition, taking the festival's sport component from the slopes to the pavement.

World Skiing Invitational - April 16-21

The World Skiing Invitational is a familiar event for the festival, and promises to once again draw the biggest freeriders in the world to a big air contest and a superpipe. This year there is a $36,000 prize purse up for grabs, with only the top two men and women in each event earning cash and prizes going to the runners up.

The qualifiers gets underway on Thursday, April 16 in the Blackcomb Terrain Park with the men's qualifier from 10 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. There are three heats over the course of the day.

The women's Big Air qualifier is from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Friday, April 17 and the men's field will get whittled down even further with the men's semi finals on Blackcomb from noon to 2 p.m.

The finals take place under the lights on Saturday night from 8:30 p.m. onward, with an estimated crowd of 15,000 on hand to watch the contest, including live music and other entertainment.

There is $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second and prizing for third in the men's field, while the top two women will be competing for $2,000 and $1,000 respectively.

The superpipe event takes place on Blackcomb with training getting underway on Sunday. The men's and women's qualifiers are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, and the semi-finals and finals take place Tuesday. The men's semi-finals are at 10:30 a.m., and the men's and women's finals run from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. with skiers squeezing in as many judged runs as they can in that time. The Superhit contest, judged by athletes, starts at 2:30 p.m.

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