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Thursday, January 6, 2011
Updated: January 10, 6:02 PM ET
FWT heads to Revelstoke

By Greg Fitzsimmons
ESPN Action Sports

Preview Day 1Finals

As snow hammers down onto Revelstoke, BC, the Canadian Freeskiing Championships are starting to get underway. Big-mountain skiers from around the globe are on-hand to compete Friday and Saturday for a prize purse that tops $20,000. This weekend's event marks the season's first Subaru Freeskiing World Tour comp in North America and the only one scheduled in Canada.

The field of men and women skiers couldn't be more stacked. For the women, look out for Angel Collinson, Crystal Wright, Jacqui Edgerly, and Janina Kuzma. In the men's field, all eyes will be on Lars Chickering Ayers, Collin Collins, Johnny Collinson, Chopo Diaz, Julien Lopez, Griffin Post and Drew Tabke.

Friday's day one venue will be on the varied terrain of Revelstoke's North Bowl. For Saturday's finals, a helicopter will drop athletes atop Mount MacKenzie.

It's been snowing heavily at Revelstoke this week, just in time for the athletes to arrive for the season's first North American stop of the Freeskiing World Tour.
The athletes hear about this year's new judging criteria.

The skiers will certainly be thinking of last year's winner of this event and the winner of the coveted Sickbird Belt Buckle: the late Arne Backstrom, who passed away in June in a ski accident in Peru.

Roughly 20 women were able to get their qualifying runs in on Thursday. But weather rolled in after a handful of guys skied, shrouding Separate Reality Glades in a viscous layer of fog and preventing the judges from seeing the entire venue, bringing the day to an early end.

FWT competitor Drew Tabke rides the Revelstoke gondola this week.

Head judge Jim Jack has put together a group of judges that have shaped the sport of freeskiing: Jamie Burge, Dash Longe, Chris Rubens, and Andrew Sheppard.

This year, there's been a change in the judging criteria. If you were to get a glimpse of the scorecards you'd notice competitors in the Freeskiing World Tour will now be evaluated on "style and creativity," in addition to their line, control, fluidity, and technique. "We're spicing things up," says head judge Jim Jack. "Everyone sees that skiing is evolving and we're now recognizing the progression of our sport with the style category. Now we'll be able to reward skiers for flashing their bag of tricks on natural terrain, while maintaining the measurability and accountability that makes the FWT unique."

Stay tuned to ESPN Freeskiing throughout the weekend for a final recap and results from the Canadian Freeskiing Championships.