After leaving the east coast, I headed back to Walla Walla
for a couple weeks of down time with friends. During that time, I tried to go film another spring
edit at Stevens Pass, but unfortunately due to weather we weren’t able to film. Instead I headed back to Walla Walla for a few more days before catching a ride with
Kerry Miller. Headed over to Sandy, Oregon for a couple of fun days hanging out
at the Best Western and panda express with Kyle, Nick, and Robby before heading
up to Whistler for the World Skiing Invitational.
This was my first time getting to ski Whistler’s winter park. Since I normally make my trips up there during the summer, this time I was able to actually ski both the Whistler and Blackcomb parks. Whistler is such a beautiful place, and it’s amazing to realize how big the mountains really are here. We arrived in Whistler around the late afternoon and figured out where everything was before getting settled in for the night since we had practice the next day.
There is no easy way to say it, first day of practice was terrible. A combination of heavy fog, wind, and ice made this one of the most dreadful training days I’ve ever encountered. The speed was extremely fast, and the jumps were huge, but you could easily overshoot. When a few people started to hit the first jump I tried to follow them in, but ended up at the bottom on the landing and slamming on my bottom. After taking a little break I was able to go out and hit the jump again, this time with much less speed than before. But after seeing that the fog was not getting any better we decided to call it for the day, and hope that the next day would be much better. After practice on the slope course I headed down to the bottom of Whistler to try and get some practice on the big air jump. Unfortunately the jump was almost impossible to clear and ended up cutting the practice period a bit short.
Luckily for us, the next day was the complete opposite of the first. Instead of it being foggy, icey, windy, and miserable. The second day was sunny, warm, and slushy; just the way I like it. The conditions were so good that I was able to clear the entire course perfectly my first run through, which is something I didn’t even come close to the previous day. After hot lapping the course like crazy, I knew I started to get a run figured out.
The next day was our qualifier, it started off with a nice practice in the morning, before jumping into the heats. I was in the second heat for the day, so I just skied around and tried to stay loose. Right after the first heat we had one more run to make sure the speed was good before dropping in. My first run started off with a 270-disaster on the down-flat-down rail, followed by a hand-drag 360 off the cliff feature. Then on the first jump I accidently over-rotated my dub 10 and washed out. This was the first time falling on this trick so I tried to not worry about it my next run. My second run started off much better with again the 270, and 360. Then I landed my dub 10, and went for my Misty 630 off the cannon rail and landed it. The next jump I did a rightside rodeo 9 mute and landed, the last jump however I forgot to take my needed speed-check and ended up taking a switch 1080 pretty deep and having my ski click out.
I’ll be honest; I was pretty bummed not making it to the next round. Especially after the last few contests had been going so well, I really wanted to end the competition season on a higher note. So for the rest of the contest I just got to hang out and watch. Definitely makes we want to improve even more so I won’t have to do that at all next season. That being said, watching the rest of the competition was quite entertaining. From the crazy big air contest where Vinnie Gagnier, Gus Kenworthy, and Henrik Harlaut made the podium, and put on quite the show for the crowd of people watching. Following the big air contest was the Nas concert which turned out to be quite the show, and just funny to people watch with Willie Borm and see all the crazies that came out for the concert.
The next day was finals. The weather was superb, and everyone was killing it. So amazing tricks happened all day, but to me the most impressive thing was watching Maggie Voisin take home the win. I still remember the first time I saw her ski at Whitefish as the little 11-year old chick throwing 720’s on the tiniest jump. Now she’s throwing crazy Switch 9’s, actually grabbing all the way through, and winning one of the biggest contests in the sport; Major props Maggie!
On the Men’s side it was an all out battle between Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper. In the end Gus was victorious with Nick coming in 2nd, and Aussie Russ Henshaw placing in 3rd.
After all the award ceremonies, it was time for the AFP Awards Banquet. This was probably one of the few times you’ll see the majority of the guy pro skiers suit up or at least wear a button-up shirt. Unless you’re a boss like Henrik and can somehow pull off wearing overalls. For this dinner we had a very lovely meal prepared and while we ate they showed us a great video of Sarah Burke, who was a very strong and passionate mentor in the ski industry that passed away last winter.
Next were the awards for the all around winner’s for each discipline of halfpipe, slopestyle, and big air. After it was all said and done, the president of AFP came out to thank everyone for an amazing year of competing and that they cannot wait for what the following contest year will bring. Following the banquet was a celebration by everyone, which was accompanied by a lot of dancing at one of the local watering holes.
The next morning we left Whistler bright and early and began our drive down to Portland. Happy to make it out of the contest season safely, and finish up with my highest ranking yet of 39th for slopestyle. Cannot wait for contest again this season and hopefully keep on improving. Special thanks to Kerry Miller for driving me up there, Brendan Reid for letting me and Kyle stay at his place, and Hanley for the ride back to Portland. Had heaps of fun on this trip! Next up is my trip to Tahoe for the High Fives Trains event at Alpine Meadows.