The evening was young and already crowds were forming in the Whistler Village. All the pubs were packed. The bars were over-flowing onto the sidewalk. The Village Stroll was bustling like an over-capacity bar itself.
Last night marked the finale -- the Big Show -- of the 12th World Ski and Snowboard Festival. The final event was the Playstation Big Air, with an estimated 10,000 rowdy spectators on hand.
The format was the same as last week: all of the invited athletes jammed on the jump for an hour, throwing down every trick they could in an effort to impress the judges enough to squeak into the small three-person final.
The weather was picture perfect for the last event, and the crowds grew all the way up to the final. They loved every minute of it and got louder as the show went on. The sheer size of the horde of on-lookers was as impressive as the contest itself. It's hard to imagine what this place will look like in 2010.
When the final three were announced, they went back to the top for the unique final format: each competitor must first do a 5, then a 7, then a 9, then they can do whatever they want. They get a score for each of the four tricks and the COMBINED score at the end determines the winner. There are no throwaways in this. Unlike most contests, where you get two runs (for example) and your best ONE score counts, this one is balls-to-the-wall from start to finish.
Each skier took his turn doing first a 5 then a 7 then a 9. After those three, it was down to the wire. Tanner was stomping his double grabs (mute to tail), Jon his ridiculously smooth style, and JF his huge air and solid grabs. It was all down to the "and beyond" portion -- the fourth and final jump. All three guys stomped big spins with massive pyrotechnics flashing in the air. Upon completion, fireworks lit up the sky, and the crowd went crazy.
When the results came in, it was Jon Olsson who was deemed the champion and the winner of the Main Event.
1. Jon Olsson
2. Tanner Rainville
3. JF Houle