World Skiing Invitational brings top talent 

AFP Championships get underway next Friday

click to enlarge Heads Up Simon Dumont airs over the crowd during 2011 AFP Championships
  • Heads Up Simon Dumont airs over the crowd during 2011 AFP Championships

Whistler skiers have been at the forefront of the freeski revolution from the beginning, with the development of the first twin-tip skis and the first events for "new school" athletes. Appropriately, the World Skiing Invitational is also one of the most important events on the freeski calendar this year, doubling as the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) World Championships.

The prize pot is huge with over $80,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs this year, as well as AFP titles in slopestyle, big air and superpipe, plus overall.

The championships get underway with slopestyle training on Wednesday, April 18 in the Nintendo Terrain Park on Blackcomb. The men's qualifier runs from 10:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday with two heats of 30 athletes.

The top 10 athletes advance to Friday's elimination round on 10:45 a.m. The top 10 qualifiers and 20 prequalified riders will go head to head in a two-run, best score format.

The men's and women's slopestyle finals run from 1:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. that afternoon, with 10 invited women and the 10 top men each getting two runs.

The top three women can earn $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000 respectively, and the top three men $8,500, $4,500 and $2,000.

Next up is the Big Air on Saturday, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. The top six women in the world are invited, contending for $5,250 in cash — $3,000 for first, $1,500 for second and $750 for third.

The men's field will start with 25 men, with the top eight advancing to the super finals. First prize is a Chevrolet Sonic worth $21,000, with $4,000 for second place and $2,000 for third.

Last, but not least, is Sunday's superpipe competition. The men's elimination round runs from 10:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with 60 athletes in two heats. The top 10 will advance to the finals at 2:45 p.m., where they will compete with the top 10 invited women.

There's also an athlete-judged one hit "Superhit" contest from 3:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. where the top male and female can earn $1,000 each for the best trick.

Canada has solid prospects in a few of the events.

In slopestyle, Kaya Turski has won every event she's entered this year and Dara Howell is moving up the AFP ranks quickly.

In superpipe, Rosalind Groenewoud won both X Games and European X Games. Noah Bowmann and Matt Margetts have also had break through seasons in men's superpipe, while a healthy Justin Dorey is always a podium threat.

Other national team members to watch for include Keltie Hansen, Mike Riddle, Dania Assaly and Megan Gunning in superpipe, and Alexi Godbout, Ian Cosco, Maude Raymond, Phil Casabon and brothers Charles and Vincent Gagnier in slopestyle.

A few Whistler athletes are on the list as well. Simon D'Artois is on the qualifier list for men's slopestyle, as are brothers Taylor and Mitchell Wilson. The Wilsons are also looking to qualify in the slopestyle competition, along with Whistler skier Kirby Sutherland and Pemberton's Logan Pehota.

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