Story by Mark Sissons
WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — It’s been a less than stellar snowsports season in Western Canada with the white stuff in short supply at many resorts. But that’s no reason to skip the World Ski & Snowboard Festival (WSSF), celebrating its 20th year in Whistler from April 10 to 19th.
Whistler’s annual 10-day showcase of the latest and greatest innovations in skiing and snowboarding combines world-class on mountain competitions, edgy arts and fashion events, plus pro film and photography competitions – all laid down to the scorch-earthed soundtrack of Canada’s largest free outdoor concert series. A celebration of pure mountain culture, WSSF is also an excellent excuse to hit the slopes of North America’s top resort for some sweet spring skiing.
Gathering Of Mountain Minds
The 2015 edition of WSSF kicks off, suitably enough, with In the Beginning, a raucous DJ-driven opening bash at the Bearfoot Bistro hosted by Monster Energy on Saturday, April 11. The next day the Whistler Conference Centre plays host to Multiplicity: A Gathering of Mountain Minds. This fundraiser for the Spearhead Huts Project features multimedia presentations from some of the most talented and passionate personalities in mountain culture.
Using a blend of photography, video and intriguing anecdotes, presenters transport the audience into their unique worlds. This year’s show features two National Geographic Adventurers of the Year, incredible ice climbs, big-time BASE jumps, mid- Atlantic misadventures and even a journey through war-torn Afghanistan.
Two perennial audience favourites are back again this year. The OLYMPUS 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown challenges next generation Warren Millers to shoot, edit, and produce a three to five minute short film within a 100km radius of Whistler over the course of 72 hours. The shortlisted finalists will present their work in front of a live audience at the Whistler Conference Centre on Wednesday, April 15, going head to head for a chance to win the $10,000 grand prize.
The OLYMPUS Pro Photographer Showdown features five top action sports and lifestyle shooters showcasing some of the best photography they’ve done throughout their award-winning careers. This year’s event features a broad range of action including skiing, snowboarding, surfing, skateboarding and mountain biking. Presented to what promises to be a super enthusiastic audience at the Whistler Conference Centre on Thursday, April 16, each stunning slideshow will vie for top prize of $10,000.
Another popular action-sports film competition, Intersection requires ski and snowboard crews to create a five to seven minute snow-sports short film in only seven days. This year’s showcase screening on April 17 at the Whistler Conference Centre will see the return of some 2014 teams, plus some new additions.
Always huge draws at WSSF, the Outdoor Concert Series and Kokanee Freeride Club Series feature some of Canada’s hottest acts and DJ’s taking to the stage in Skier’s Plaza at the base of Whistler Mountain. 2015 highlights include free shows by Swollen Members on Saturday on April 11, hip hop artist YelaWolf on Saturday, April 18, and MSTRKRFT on Sunday, April 19 to close out the WSSF Outdoor Concert Series.
Smalltown DJs, DJ Pump and Illo have all been confirmed to play Monster Energy’s In The Beginning party at the Bearfoot Bistro on Saturday, April 11, while Toronto’s AutoErotique and Torro Torro, along with LA’s ETC!ETC!, are set to close out the festival at WSSF’s final dance party, The End.
Just For Laughs
Also brand new for 2015, the Whistler Comedy Showdown stand-up comedy competition features a lineup of both newbies and well-known comedians from the Sea to Sky Corridor. The competition’s final round takes place on Tuesday, April 14 at Buffalo Bills, across from the Whistler Conference Centre.
And back for a third straight year, the hugely popular Roller Derby Invitational: Silence of the Slams, features a full contact rematch between arch rivals Black Diamond Betties from Whistler and Squamish’s Sea to Sky Sirens. Sure to be another battle of the elbow swinging titans, this slam bam affair takes over the Grand Ballroom at the Whistler Conference Centre on Saturday, April 11.
With the blizzard of cultural and musical attractions hitting Whistler during WSSF it’s easy to forget that at the end of the day it’s really all about going hard on the snow. Except, of course, if you’re attending the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) World Tour Finals at the World Skiing Invitational, featuring Halfpipe, Slopestyle and Big Air. Or the crowd favourite Monster Energy Shred Show Shootout on Saturday, April 18, which pitches two top riders at a time against each other as they drop into two identical rail setups.
For a complete festival rundown, event ticket purchase and lodging options, visit wssf.com.
MORE ABOUT WHISTLER
Where To Dine: Anyone who visits Whistler should dine at both Araxi and the Bearfoot Bistro. Both are outstanding and unique. Araxi, led by executive chef James Walt, serves French and Italian cuisine using local ingredients while the Bearfoot Bistro is focused on Pacific Northwest cuisine in a room that’s always lively. Read more Vacay.ca coverage of Araxi and Bearfoot Bistro.