Yesterday I recieved my first issue of Powder Magazine in the mail and was delighted to see official word on a concept that I'd been hearing about for a few months. So what's the big deal? K2 is putting on a first-of-it's-kind backcountry comp. Taking place over three days in the Whistler Backcountry, invited athletes will hit nine different features in an attempt to win some of the $90,000 up for grabs.

I got in touch with Mike Gutt at K2 and he hooked me up with all the details:

K2 Back 9 Mini Golf InvitationalPresented by Powder MagazineWhistler Backcountry ClubMarch 1 â?? April 15th, 2006

Mini Golf Invitational Premise:Introduce a new event/film shoot that showcases the progression of backcountry skiing in an exclusive rider focused format. The term â??Mini Golfâ?? has come to define short, highly technical lines that utilize natural terrain and lines that introduce man made or rider build features. The K2 Back 9 Mini Golf Invitational is an event designed to document the evolution of trick focused backcountry or â??mini golfâ?? skiing from the athleteâ??s perspective.

The visionaries of our sport, the athletes, have been combining two totally distinct approaches to the skiing over the past decade. The idea of merging of technical park tricks with traditional big mountain skiing has given rise to an entirely new breed of skiers. Each year these multidimensional athletes challenge the notion of what can be accomplished on a pair of skis and in term the limitations of the sport.

Many of these athletes have moved away from the competition focused environments in favor of traveling in search of new terrain and documenting this experience on film. The photographic and film documentation of backcountry skiing has been crucial to the advancement of the sport and any backcountry event would not be complete without their inclusion.

This K2 Back 9 Mini Golf Invitational is not designed to be a competition, rather a relaxed opportunity for riders to converge on one location to document the sport of backcountry skiing.

Invitational Rider FormatA total of 12 riders will be invited to the tournament with an additional 24 alternates. Riders will be posted in an advertisement for the K2 Back 9 Mini Gold Invitational.

Invited riders list:

Mark Abma

Marc-Andre Belliveau

Anthony Boronowski

Sage Cattabriga- Alosa

Pep Fujas

Tanner Hall

Eric Hjorleifson

C.R. Johnson

Jon Olsson

Eric Pollard

Candide Thovex

Henrik Winstedt

Event DatesTo ensure the best conditions and most progressive skiing during the tournament, the Mini Golf event will take place when the snow pack and snowfall in the Whistler backcountry are best. To ensure the conditions are suitable, the event will take place on three days between March 1st and April 15th, 2006. Much like the Eddie Aikau Invitational in the sport of surfing, a window of dates approach will make sure the event goes off under the correct conditions. Conditions will be monitored on the web site. When the Whistler area gets a cumulative snowfall of 30 cms, the event will take place and athletes will be notified.

PrizesRiders will decide the winner of K2 Back 9 Invitational by voting blindly for the top five skiers at each hole. The winners will share a prize purse of $45,000. The top three riders with the lowest overall scores will be declared winners.

First Place â?? Gold Jacket and cash prize - $20,000Runner Up â?? Silver Jacket and cash prize - $15,0003rd Place â?? Bronze Jacket and cash prize - $10,000

In addition to these top three overall winners, prizes will be awarded to the winners of each hole.

Winner of 1st Hole - $4,000Winner of 2nd Hole - $4,000Winner of 3rd Hole - $4,000Winner of 4th Hole - $4,000Winner of 5th Hole - $4,000Winner of 6th Hole - $4,000Winner of 7th Hole - $4,000Winner of 8th Hole - $4,000 Winner of 9th Hole - $4,000The Best Mulligan and Best Shank winners will also get cash prizes.Best Mulligan Winner - $4,000Best Shank Winner - $4,000

K2 Back 9 Mini Golf Invitational WebsiteK2 will launch a totally independent site designed specifically for the Back 9 Mini Golf Invitation named The siteâ??s main function is for providing information on the event. The site will include event information, rules, invited athlete list, an athlete registration page, cash prize breakdown, links to the contributing sponsorâ??s page, and a weather tracker for the Whistler area. This site will serve as the forum where event updates and weather information are posted.