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Freeski Tour '99

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French Connect the Drops
Canadian Freeskiing Championships
January 4-8, 2000

Day Two: Men's Semi-Finals
Huge rock gardens and buttresses surround Diamond Bowl. In Friday's men's semi-finals, none of it was off limits. Current leader and World Champion Guerlain Chicherit didn't even hesitate as he threaded his way across the most precipitous ridges, hitting air after air and linking them with fast, fluid turns.

Men's Semi-Finals
Men's Semi-Finals
Chicherit and his fellow countryman, Seb Michaud, set the pace today. Michaud skied out on a ridge that progressively narrowed to a measly perch, then dropped 60 feet. He then disappeared from view behind a huge group of rocks before rocketing through the air with a backflip.

Out of 67 men who skied today, it's difficult to convey the incredible level at which these athletes are skiing. Their confidence, expertise, abilities and perceptions are at a level that makes them feel okay billy-goating on skis around the edges of cliffs, where one wrong move has serious, potentially deadly consequences.

Highlights of the day included Todd Windle charging through a sequence of big cliff drops with style that the French guys would have approved of. Windle is currently in 3rd place. Brian Swinson did a swan dive off of Lobotomy Rock, tagging a quick front flip before landing a little bit short. Eric Schmidtz tucked and hucked — speeding across the lower half of the mountain then launching a 360 to a cheering crowd.

Brant Moles

Local Whistler skier, Rob Alford, nailed the Guerlain line off one of the first big rocks, but injured his knee in the second half of his run. Gordy Peifer, winner in '97, stomped his line where few others went. Aryeh Copa launched off of Lobotomy Rock with one of the fastest take-offs of the day — on pins.

Last year's champion, Jeff Holden, hugged rocks in an obscure connection of seemingly unrelated airs. Although Holden is currently 10th, he does not plan on skiing in the finals, after slightly compressing his lower back on a landing. So the field of competitors has been narrowed for Saturday's semi-finals. Fourteen women and 33 men are sure to step it up...if that's possible.

— Michelle Quigley, hucking stories for

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