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Local Knowledge: Whistler’s World Ski and Snowboard Festival
Posted on April 23, 2015

The Peak to Peak gondola, linking the massive Blackcomb Mountain with the massive Whistler Mountain.

Last month we reported on the grand reopening of our new flagship freeride store on the Village Stroll in the freeride mecca of Whistler, BC. For those who have experienced the 8,171-plus acres, 200-plus named runs and 5,354-vertical feet of ski terrain at Canada’s largest mountain resort—or the world-class lift-serviced freeride mountain biking—the on-hill action is reason enough to head 90 minutes north of Vancouver for a visit to the area and an après stop at our most stocked outdoor, active Eddie Bauer store in Canada. But for those who need more of a life-list draw, the clear local’s favorite event is the annual World Ski and Snowboard Festival, a spectacle that brought the Live Your Adventure blog north to send out the ski and snowboard season north of the border last week.

Words and Images by Dan Kostrzewski, Video Courtesy of World Ski and Snowboard Festival

Tight corner at Friday's Monster Shredathon Borderstyle.

Founded twenty years ago on the idea of bringing the mountain community together for a celebration of athletes, culture, art and music, The Festival is one of the most beloved happenings in a town very familiar with a grand stage. Even during a low snow year in the Pacific Northwest, this year’s incarnation included world-class on-snow competitions in the disciplines of ski slopestyle, big air and halfpipe as well as snowboard borderstyle and slopestyle. The crowning slopestyle finals were marked by a triple-cork victory by Olympic bronze medalist Mark McMorris, a feat cheered on by record crowds of on-slope spectators under warm, sunny Saturday skies. Off the hill, the sporting action ranged from competitive roller derby to a massive freestyle motocross exhibition that packed the Whistler Village plaza to near capacity.

 

Culturally, the WSSF once again showcased mountain comedians, filmmakers, writers and athletes in a nightly series of creative competitions and evening happenings, which this season included a “Girls Getting’ It Done” movie night that featured a screening of Eddie Bauer athlete Lynsey Dyer’s Pretty Faces film. Constant live music underscores the festival atmosphere and during the twenty-year-run of the festival, the WSSF has also hosted national musical acts such as Jurassic 5, The Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake, Nickelback, Spearhead, Toots and the Maytals, K’naan, Metric, and two of the Marleys as well as a long roster of talented lesser-known performers. This year was no different with DJs spinning and ski town favorites such as Swollen Members, Fort Knox Five and Swedish Afterski Mafia performing to charged crowds.

But the highlight of the event, as is the norm, was the Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown where five of the world’s best action sports photographers faced off in an 11-minute slide show competition for a $10,000 prize. The invite-only competition included slideshows featuring skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, surfing and skateboarding from around the globe shot by Lorenz Holder, Ruben Krabbe, Mattias Fredriksson, Todd Glazer and Brian Gaberman. Judged by a panel of past victors—including famous action sports photographers Jordan Manley, Eric Berger, Aaron Chang and Paul Morrison—the tight competition resulted in a victory for Lorenz Holder. In true Whistler fashion the event, which was hosted by freeski legend and Whistler local Mike Douglas at the Whistler Conference Centre, included an inspiring mountain art gallery from local artists, a handpicked DJ, a sold-out crowd and infectious energy that resonated from a culturally diverse mountain community.

 

While nearly every mountain town has its blowout event or its closing day celebration, the World Ski and Snowboard Festival still sets the standard twenty years on. Taken collectively, Whistler’s homegrown festival is a life list experience for any mountain athlete looking to send out the season with big spring vertical, inspiring mountain culture and the thriving après atmosphere of a global freeride village. Book your ticket now. 

Late night perspective at the Eddie Bauer store.

Next year’s World Ski and Snowboard Festival takes place the first two weeks of April 2016. Plan to tick this event off your life list with the assistance of Whistler lodging and swing by our new Eddie Bauer store at 4314 Main Street, on the Village Stroll north of Village Gate Blvd, next time you are in the freeride zone. View the festival recap via @wssf or @whistlerblckmb on Twitter and Instagram.

Author: - Thursday, April 23rd, 2015
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