Skis and bags are stuffed frantically in the back of a black rental SUV in the parking lot of Western’s Mountaineer Fieldhouse as the sun sets Thursday, January 5th; two days after the big mountain team’s planned departure for freeride world qualifiers in Revelstoke, British Columbia. With over a foot of new snow at their home mountain of Crested Butte, however, who could blame them for the late start?
Once every inch of free space has been stuffed with bags, the team is off on a mission to drive through the night and make it to their first destination; Nelson, BC and Whitewater ski resort. Fueled by caffeine and corny pop music, the freeriders push on through the next morning and finally cross the Canadian border. Upon arrival in Nelson, a crazed search for wi-fi, poutine, and housing began- ending in a close game of pool volleyball at the local rec center.
For the next three days, the team explored Whitewater ski resort and brushed up on avalanche rescue techniques for safe backcountry travel. After a few full days exploring new terrain in the Canadian rockies, it was on to Revelstoke Monday night. After a 4 hour car ride and 20 minute ferry across Upper Arrow Lake, the team arrived in Revelstoke, with a mandatory stop at Tim Horton’s for donuts. Afterward everyone settled in to an air B&B hosted by friendly frozen-yogurt enthusiasts. From here on, each athlete’s focus turned toward their competition line and preparing for the coming days.
Day 1 in Revelstoke was an inspection day for the riders to get eyes on the venue and dial in the line they would take for the competition the following day. It was a skin-numbing -22°C (-8°F) on the mountain. After huddling in an over-capacity warming shack at the top of the lift for a few minutes, the team was back out for another lap scoping lines and exploring terrain.
The next day was slightly warmer and clear for competition. The venue for qualifiers took place skier’s right of the Stoke Chair on Separate Reality. Snow conditions were punchy and wind affected in places, but this didn’t stop big mountain athletes from throwing down their A game. Western athletes Zach Bare and Grifen Moller had successful qualifier runs and moved on to finals. Once qualifiers wrapped up, the Western team checked out the venue for finals, located in the North Bowl of Revelstoke.
Finals day brought anticipation and more clear weather for skiing. Western was up against impressive skiers and boarders from all over, but came out on top with Moller securing 2nd place for men’s skiing, and Bare landing in 2nd place for men’s snowboarding. After great success, the team celebrated with fellow big mountain athletes in true Canadian style and prepared for the long drive back home.