Snowboard World Cup gets the go ahead 

Snowboard cross moved; halfpipe, big air and parallel giant slalom to go ahead as planned

While a slow start to winter has resulted in less than ideal snow conditions, the show, or rather the Snow Scene, must go on.

After a review by FIS technical delegates it was determined that the Snow Scene featuring the Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup scheduled for Dec. 12 to 15 would go ahead as planned, with a different time and venue for the snowboard cross.

"It will be assessed again (on Friday), so there is a possibility that it won’t happen, but that depends on snow conditions," said event organizer Christina Allsop. "So much snow and work is required for (the snowboard cross) course, and if we had a little more snow we would be fine. Right now we’re making the best of what we’ve got and keeping our options open."

The other three events on the schedule, including the Coors Light Parallel Giant Slalom (PGS) on Friday, Dec. 13, the Nissan Halfpipe on Saturday, Dec. 14 and the O’Neill Big Air on Sunday, Dec. 15 will go ahead as planned in their previous venues. If the sites become unusable for whatever reason, the events will likely be moved higher up the mountain, and possibly to the glacier area where the snow is more plentiful.

"Whistler-Blackcomb has done an exceptional job of exploring all options to avoid changing the original schedule, however an unexpected temperature inversion made the required snow making difficult in the last 10 days," said Mark Taylor, event chairman and part of MASEV Communications Inc., which is organizing the event.

An inversion is a meteorological phenomena whereby temperature patterns are reversed – colder air is trapped at the bottom of the valley by a layer of warmer air that hovers around the alpine area.

"The inversion has subsided," continued Taylor, "making way for the right conditions to start making snow. FIS has officially cancelled the Snowboard Cross on Dec. 12 with plans to reschedule it on Dec. 16 in the Horstman Glacier, where sufficient snow exists."

Although it has been too warm in the last week to make new snow, the mountains had already made enough for these events says Christopher Nicolson, public relations and communications manager for Whistler-Blackcomb.

"Right now we’re in a state of maximizing any opportunity that presents itself. If it’s cold up high, we’ve got the (snow) guns going up top. If it’s colder down low, then we’ve been moving lower down the mountains," he said.

"If we look at the site where the halfpipe would be, we started on that right away. In terms of the mountain’s commitment to the events and things that are coming up, we’re doing everything we can."

According to Allsop, the FIS officials assess each event 10 days out from a competition, with the exception of the PGS, which is assessed six days out.

With the Snowboard Cross out for now, the Snow Scene World Cup weekend gets underway on Friday, Dec. 13, with PGS qualifying at 9:30 a.m. The finals start at 1 p.m.

On Saturday, the men’s halfpipe qualification runs from 9 a.m. to approximately 11:25 a.m. The women’s halfpipe qualifier will run from 11:25 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. The finals for both will start at 1:45 p.m. Both guys and girls get two runs in the qualifier, and those who make the cut get another two runs in the finals.

The O’Neill-sponsored Big Air on Sunday gets underway with qualifying at 10 a.m. and the finals at 12:30 p.m.

Times have yet to be set for the Snowboard Cross, which is waiting for FIS approval.

The top snowboarders from more than 20 nations are expected in Whistler, including members of the national and national development teams. The top Canadians to watch for include Mike Michalchuk, Guillaume Morriset, Trevor Andrew, Maelle Ricker, Natasza Zurek, Brett Carpentier, Lori Glazier and Dominique Vallee in the halfpipe, and Jasey Jay Anderson, Mark Fawcett and Jerome Sylvestre in the PGS.

The Big Air discipline, which is only in its second year with the International Ski Federation (FIS), will feature a number of top local riders as well as a strong international field. Riders are still to be announced.

For more information on the World Cup or other Snow Scene events, visit the official Snow Scene Web site at www.snowscene.ca.

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