April 12, 2002 Chris OâConnell WHISTLER - With the 7th Annual Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival set to begin today, Whistler village has begun its transformation into even more of a party town than usual. The massive big air jump and huge main stage now dominate the base of the mountain while preparations in the superpipe on Blackcomb are well underway. While the focus for most of us is next weekendâs Garnier Fructis World Skiing Invitational, there are tons of events to entertain everyone in. The Ripzone Snowboard Invitational begins today on Blackcomb with superpipe training, while training for the big air goes from 4-6 pm at the base of Whistler Mountain. Finals for the Big Air go Saturday from 4-6pm while the superpipe final is Sunday from 11am-2pm. Of course it wouldnât be the WSSF without some kick ass musical acts playing daily in the village. Kicking off the Jim Bean Outdoor Concert Series tonight on the mainstage between 3-6pm will be Baby Blue Soundcrew, Choclair, Harpoon, and Bishop. Anyone in town should also try to check out Torontoâs New Deal, playing at the GLC tonight at 10pm. The New Deal will also be playing the mainstage during the snowboard Big Air Saturday night along with Seanski, Breakstra and Special Guests. Headlining the World Skiing Invitational Big Air next Saturday, April 20, 2002 will be Ozomatli on the mainstage with Science, Bullfrog feat. DJ P-Love and other Special Guests. One of the events that the WSSF is becoming known for is the Pro Photographer Search & Showdown. The Pro Photographer Search runs from Monday April 15 â Tuesday April 16 at the Whistler Conference Centre. Over the two nights, 6 up and coming photographers will present a 12-minute slide show of the best work of their careers. The winner of the Pro Photographer Search will be entered as the wild card in Pro Photographer Showdown, happening two nights later on Thursday April 18. The format for the Photographer Showdown is the same as the Photographer Search: each contestant is given 12 minutes to present a slide show of their most impressive and captivating work. The finals of the Showdown are expected to draw 1200 people so get your tickets early if you can. Tickets are $7 for the Photographer Search and $25 for the Showdown. New for this year is one of the most innovative contests that Iâve ever heard of. The concept for this years Filmmaker Showdown is simple: All entrants meet at 4pm today and have 72 hours to shoot, edit, and produce a 4.5 minute film. The competition is open to anyone and there are no limits to what equipment you can use. This should be one of the most interesting contests of the festival, pitting seasoned pros with editing suites against amateurs with DV Cams and iMacs. After the judges have screened all entries, the 6 best will be shown at a gala at the Whistler Conference Centre on Wednesday April 17. I wouldnât be surprised if this type of contest becomes very popular in the next few years. As for the time between the sun setting and you waking up with a splitting headache wondering how on earth youâre going to go skiing today, Whistlerâs normal penchant for drunken debauchery will be stepped up to new levels this week. Kokaneeâs AprÃ¨s and After Dark Freeride parties are sure to leave everyone in town a little under the weather each morning. Promising 10 bars in 10 nights there will definitely be something for everyone. For most of us the highlight will be Fridays Freeskier Magazine Party @ The Savage Beagle. And just like last year the party will go off like nothing else, the only concern for us non-pro-skier mortals are actually getting in to enjoy the fun. With skiing replacing snowboarding as the signature event this year, the Garnier Fructis World Skiing Invitational wraps up the WSSF and is going to bring the top pros in the sport to compete in both Superpipe and Big Air. Superpipe and Big Air training will be held on Friday from 11am-2pm and 4pm-6pm respectively. The ten remaining spots in the Superpipe final will be decided in a qualifying session at 10am on Saturday while the competition runs from 12pm-2pm. The Big Air goes off on Saturday evening from 7pm-9pm. This yearâs World Ski and Snowboard Festival has the potential to be the best spring festival in mountain sports to date. Continue to check Newschoolers.com for frequent updates, pictures and video from Whistler.