Sun. Apr 12, 2015

Some will remember that last year's weather wasn't too condusive to the AFP circuit's final event of the Season. This year though, the Association of Freeskiing Professional's last major event of the season during WSSF is housing all three disciplines and Friday's Slopestyle Eliminations was packed with technical runs from the world's top freestyle skiers, in an impressively huge and well crafted course.
The 2014/15 Snow Season's Elephant in the room also made a guest appearance: fresh snow - and lots of it - as those who sampled it on Saturday morning well know.

The falling snow and creeping cloud meant that the Men's elimination Heats - composed of 25 athletes each, with 2 runs per skier - were all that were able to be completed on Friday. Both Women's and Men's finals were postponed until Saturday morning for better visibility for the athletes and my was it glorious! Friday's eliminations drew a large crowd of awed onlookers, with a DJ setting the vibe with some well received old school hip hop. At noon the narrowing down of who would be joining the 6 pre-qualified Skiers commenced (selected based on their AFP World Tour Rank after the March 28th Dumont Cup). Athletes vied for a place next to Last year's winner Evan McEachran, along with the stylin' ABM (Alex Bellmare), Olympic Gold medalist Joss Christensen; FIS Crystal Globe winner James Woods, and X-Games champs from the US: McRae Williams and Bobby Brown.

Heat 1 saw Antoine Adelisse advance with a top score of 78.08. Noah Wallace (77.08); Chris Laker (75.92); Local X-Games Gold medalist Simon D'artois (75.83) and Elias Ambuhl (73.75) grabbed golden tickets to the finale. Robby Franco's dialled double corks secured him the top place of Heat 2 with the day's highest score of 83.08. The following four boys also killed it in tricky conditions: Teal Harle (81.83); Tanner Gordon (73.42); Whistler local Taylor Wilson (71.75); and Russ Henshaw (68.92).

Saturday morning's blue skies and freshies set the perfect back drop for everyone's warm up runs and the Women's Finals. Cassie Sharpe (3rd last year) took a tumble on the Shack booter on her first run. Kim Lamarre's bag of tricks bagged her third place; Katie Summerhayes' wicked first run scored her second and Whistler local Yuki Tsubota stole the crown with two consistently impressive runs and a best score of 80.50. That'a girl!

Competition was fierce in the Men's finals. The intense, incredibly impressive level these athletes are performing at and the weather once again reaching out it's wintery fingers up the Blackcomb Park course, are huge mental factors in this playing field. Chris Laker's trademark smoothness was unfortunately under-represented with falls and low points in both runs, with Tanner Gordon, Taylor Wilson, Noah Wallace and Evan McEachran having one less-than-ideal run out of the two they had to stake a claim. All the athletes were pushing for a pinnacular performance, knowing the stakes were high and each eager for a place on the podium. Third place went to England's James 'Woodsy' Woods with two incredibly dialed runs (85.67); Second to Park City local McRae Williams, again with two impeccable runs (87.92) and first to the Breckenridge 1440 King Bobby Brown (87.50 and 88.67).

See you at the Halfpipe on Sunday for the return of this AFP discipline and the Superhit contest before the Award ceremony in the Plaza at 5:30pm.


Written By Laura Hanlon

Photos by Laura Hanlon