By Jessie Foster
VANCOUVER – Whistler’s World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF) once again provided the best way to bid farewell to another amazing winter season of snow at North America’s largest and most visited ski resort. Throughout the six-day celebration of everything sliding, the only problem is deciding in which event to partake at any given moment. The options are fairly limitless in a place like Whistler with an array of activities suited for riders of all ages including Big Air competitions, Monster’s Boarderstyle World Championships, the Slush Cup, Olympus Photography Pro Showdowns, 72hr Filmmaker Showdown and lets not forget the bands and DJs who travel around the globe to be a part of the final hurrah.
Officially founded by a legend named Doug Perry in 1996, the festival has continued to blow people’s smelly socks off their feet with top athletes competing for an abundance of prizes. The environment is truly unparalleled by any other in North American ski culture with some of the most intense courses, art and photography installations. This year WSSF took place April 10 to 15 in various locations around Whistler Village.
Whistler’s Conference Centre was home to the screening of Intersection. This challenge takes certain ski and snowboard crews and tests their abilities to shoot, produce and edit a video of only five to seven minutes, all within a seven-day time frame. This video must be shot within 100 km of WB and contain at least 75 per cent of material that is on snow, 30 seconds of footage from the park, as well as in-bound shots. The crews chosen to enter included Burrrlapz, Andrew Santos Media, Gapers Gone Wild, RK Films and Gradestone. However, it was the ladies from Cariboo Blondes who completely stole the show for the finale. What better way to finish the night than having some of the radest, young up-and-coming women in the industry provide the audience with a visual buffet of riding and skiing for an ultimate prize of $10,000. This year the Cariboo Blondes were the People’s Choice winners, with Burrrlapz raking in the overall Intersection grand prize.
“They definitely build anticipation with the most serene video to come last,” says Ryan Kenny of RK Films.
A Tribe Called Red brought the thunder to the Friday night, with an estimated 1,500 people coming out to watch their performance, which started directly after the Big Air ski competition. The fact that it was pouring rain didn’t slow anyone down.
Another impressive couple of evening events were the photographer and filmmaker showdowns hosted by Olympus. Some of the most creative and world’s best at capturing the art of sports on camera showcased their work surrounding the subjects of sport, culture and the human spirit.
Athletes in the Monster’s Boarderstyle World Champions raced four at a time down a wild course filled with obstacles, half pipes, jumps and big brown puddles. This event first kicked off in 2010 and now gives away $50,000 in prize money to the men and woman who put themselves out there to compete.
The fourth annual JP Memorial was held during the festival, celebrating the life of one of the most iconic and influential skiers of our time. JP Auclair’s life was honoured throughout the weekend with freeski trivia, shredding sessions, an après ski party as well as a fundraiser and silent art auction.
Men and women in tight suits came from all around to participate in the Saudan Couloir Ski Race Extreme presented by Kokanee. This friendly competition boasts the “world’s steepest ski race” and has finally made its way back to Whistler after a 16 year break and hosted Olympians, amateurs, local rock stars and everybody else.
Collaborating with the Mountain Magic Tour for its last stop of the season, The End, an all-night dance party, was set with a custom-made wizard, Smalltown DJs, Mat The Alien, Ardalan and Case of the Mondays to name a few. The dancing, hula hooping, aerial performances and general shaking around continued until 4 a.m. on Sunday morning.
Scandinave Spa, just minutes from the Village, is definitely worth grabbing a robe and checking out. They transcend their guests to a place of complete bliss with a no-talking policy for maximum relaxation. Treating yourself is a must after a few days of celebrating and riding hard.
There’s no better way to tip your helmet at the end of a season then celebrating with other fellow riders and music enthusiasts. With a motto like “Party in April, Sleep in May,” WSSF makes the crowd forget that there’s such a thing as work and responsibility and truly just come hang out for six days of fun. This all-encompassing festival is the bread to your butter and there really is no reasonable excuse not to come check out this amazing mashup of arts, culture and skiing for next year. Treat yourself.
For more information on WSSF click here