AFP World Slopestyle Skiing Championships with Ian Hamilton

After an extremely busy season of competing and filming, I managed to rank 59th in the world, earning me my first trip to AFP slopestyle skiing world championships in Whistler, British Columbia.  Skiing in World Champs has been a goal of mine for a couple seasons, so I was anticipating this contest all season.  I love visiting Whistler because there are so many great people there.  I got to stay with my good buddy Danny Arnold and hang out with my Team Wake-up compatriots Dean Bercovitch, Emma Whitman, and Bauston Wilde.  So even without the competition aspect the trip, it was a blast.

On the skiing side, the course that the Blackcomb park crew put together in the Nintendo Black Park was one of the smoothest Slopestyle courses I have ever skied.  The first two rails were big enough to allow for technicality without being gigantic and dangerous.  And the third rail feature was my favorite feature of the course.  Set on a big table, there was a huge up tube to flat tube as the left option and a big tap feature as the right.  I was addicted to the tap feature from the first day of practice and had more fun on it than any other feature I have ever skied in a Slopestyle Course.  The jump section was similar in scale to the rail features.  Big enough to allow a high degree of difficulty, but not too big to be overly dangerous.  Overall the course was extremely enjoyable to ski.

My goal for the weekend was to have a blast skiing, put together a run that reflected my personal skiing style, and stay healthy.  I am glad to say I accomplished all three.  Skiing around such insane skiers is a huge factor for me.  I get so pumped when everyone is throwing down super hard.  The Qualifying day was probably the most intense for me because only ten men went through out of a 60-man field of top skiers.  Only five skiers from each heat of thirty moved on so there was a huge amount of pressure.  I decided I was just going to have fun and not worry about the end result.  With so many talented skiers throwing down, I knew it was going to be tough to get through to the next round.

My run was as follows: Natural Lip 270 onto the first disaster down rail, Unnatural 270 on frontside 270 out on the second down rail, Switch cork/rodeo 720 nosetap on the bonk feature, Switch unnatural rodeo 720 octo grab, switch natural misty 900 truckdriver grab, natural double misty 1080 safety.  I managed to land my first run and was in 1st place in my heat going into run 2.  I was worried some people would beat my score since there was such deep talent in both heats, so I went for it on my second run and stomped it even better than my first and upped my score by a point.  I came out with the highest score in my heat and the third highest in the qualifier behind Brenden Reid and Jossi Wells.

Making the next round had been my biggest goal for the weekend simply because I was then guaranteed a top-30 finish in a Platinum level event which would undoubtedly replace one of my lower competition scores and significantly up my world ranking.  So, a lot of pressure was lifted after the qualifier on Friday.  I had already trained the course extensively and had my run down so I caught up on sleep on Saturday and got a couple hours of training done in the afternoon.  I mainly focused on adding technicality to my rail tricks by adding a grab or two into them.

Sunday arrived and the weather was threatening.  Practice was postponed for 30 minutes due to fog at the bottom of the course, and we were worried about the day as a whole.  The fog held around the bottom of the park lift so practice began with sled laps at the bottom.  After around an hour and a half the park crew set to maintenance and we prepared for our runs up top.  I was 8th to drop as it was reverse order of the qualifier into reverse order of world ranking for the 20 prequalified skiers.  On my first run, I overshot the first jump too much to continue into the next jump so I had to have a throwaway run.  I knew I had to at least put my run down once since I had done it in qualifiers already and was confident in my tricks.  On my second run, I stepped up and landed it.  I didn’t get everything as perfect as I wanted and I knew I wouldn’t be really high in the rankings compared to some of the insanely technical runs that were being thrown-down, but I was really stoked to come out 16th, my highest finish in a Platinum event so far.

After my contest runs, I got to follow my good friend Danny Arnold around his stomping grounds up on the Blackcomb Glacier.  We are very like-minded and similarly skilled skiers so I have the best time when we ride together.  And having a local show you all the best spots is the only way to truly ski a new mountain.  We got to ski a sick line classified as an unmarked triple black diamond, a line with a no fall zone above a cliff as the entrance and right edge.  I was on my park skis but got few face shots and great turns regardless.  It was thrilling way to end a long weekend of intense park skiing.  Escaping the park is always refreshing for my skiing and the terrain of BC is incredible.

That night we were treated to a concert by the Wailers in Whistler Village, a huge crowd was out enjoying the spring weather and good vibes.  After the show and a couple delicious slices of Fat Tony’s pizza, it was to the park for a couple Canadian beers and a game of catch with a light up ultimate frisbee with friends.

As a whole my first trip to the World Ski and Snowboard Festival was a blast.  It was a collection of amazing people and events in a perfect location.  I am pumped to finish my slopestyle skiing season off with this event and stoked to get strong and train hard this summer to come out swinging next season!!

Words by Ian Hamilton


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