For me, winter is my busy time at the office, working away on Outdoor Canada’s annual Fishing issue, followed closely by our Spring issue. Add in planning for the year ahead, along with my son’s hockey, and there’s unfortunately little time to get out ice fishing. But by early April, the decks are cleared at work, hockey is (usually) over and I finally have some free time to enjoy the outdoors.

There’s just one problem: By this time of the year in my neck of the woods in southern Ontario, the ice is (usually) too dodgy to venture out for a bit of perchin’, and there are no hunting opportunities to be had (what with the wild turkey opener still weeks away at that point).

Luckily, I have another long-time outdoor passion—downhill skiing. But therein lies yet another problem: by early April, the ski hills here are typically shut down for the season already (this spring being an exception due to the unusually tenacious winter and resulting snowpack). So, what’s a guy to do? In my case, I make my annual trek to Whistler, B.C., for the action-packed World Ski & Snowboard Festival.

If you’re a long-time skier like me, and you love spring skiing, Whistler is the place to be during this 10-day festival. It also helps if you enjoy no end of parties, music and cool art installations and photography. Then there are the competitions—you would not believe the amazing things guys and gals are doing on their skis and snowboards these days.

This year’s edition of the World Ski & Snowboard Festival wrapped up yesterday, and with that, here’s a roundup of the highlights, courtesy of the WSSF. In the meantime, I can’t wait for next year!

  • Monster Energy Shred Show Big Air The Monster Energy Shred Show kicked off the sporting events at WSSF on Saturday, April 12 with a massive 65 foot jump at the base of Whistler Mountain. After a fantastic show, 24 riders, and some great weather, it was Max Eberhardt (CAN) who stomped a perfect backside triple cork 1440 mute grab on his second hit to earn a score of 95.33 and the first place prize of $15,000. Hot on his heels was Kyle Mack (USA) in a close second with the same trick, earning him a score of 93.55 and $6,000 in prize money. Justin Morgan (USA) rounded out the podium with his stylish switch backside double cork 1260 stalefish grab, landing him a score of 92.00 and $4,000.
  • Monster Energy Shred Show Slopestyle Next up came the Monster Energy Shred Show Slopestyle on Sunday, April 13 in the Nintendo Terrain Park on Blackcomb Mountain. Under bluebird skies, the Shred Show Slopestyle was a best of three run format that eventually saw Kyle Mack (USA) on the top of the podium with a score of 86.50 and a cheque for $15,000. Sebastien Toutant (CAN) came in second with a score of 85.22 which earned him $6,000 in prize money, and in third was Matts Kulisek (CAN) with a score or 82.33 and $4,000. Both the Monster Energy Shred Show Big Air and Slopestyle are five star invitational events on the World Snowboard Tour, drawing some of the top snowboard athletes from around the globe.
  • Monster Energy Shred Show Boarderstyle The Monster Energy Shred Show wrapped up on Monday, April 14 with the Boarderstyle competition in the Nintendo Terrain Park on Blackcomb Mountain. The Boarderstyle is a combination of the Boardercross and Slopestyle disciplines and the format includes a mandatory spin on the final feature of the course. In the end it was Whistler local, Rube Goldberg, who came out on top earning himself a cool $1,000.
  • OLYMPUS 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown The OLYMPUS 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown kicked off the film and photography competitions at the Whistler Conference Centre on Tuesday, April 15. Of all the films that were submitted, the top ten were selected by a panel of industry experts and shown in front of the sold out audience of over 1500 people. When all was said and done, the judges selected Darcy Turenne as the winner for her film, The Trip. Turenne took home the grand prize of $8,000 in cash and $6,000 in prizing for being named Best In Show. Ollie Popley won the People’s Choice Award as voted by the audience that night for his film, Stalk and Peel, which earned him $2,000 in prizing. Stalk and Peel also won the People’s Choice award at the OLYMPUS 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown ENCORE which took place on Friday, April 18, and earned an additional $1,200 in prizing.
  • Intersection presented by Bromley Baseboards Intersection presented by Bromley Baseboards happened next at the Whistler Conference Centre on Wednesday, April 16. Six teams competed in the event this year, including The Man Boys, Ryan Kenny and Ben Webb, Brian Hockenstein, Simplestix, Calloused Media Group, and The KSM Collective. All the teams had seven days back in March to shoot, edit, and produce a five to seven minute ski and/or snowboard short film. In the end, The Man Boys came out on top winning both the Best In Show title from the judges, earning them $10,000 in prize money, as well as the People’s Choice Award which got them an additional $2,000 in prizing.
  • OLYMPUS Pro Photographer Showdown Five photographers were invited to participate in the OLYMPUS Pro Photographer Showdown which was held at the Whistler Conference Centre on Thursday, April 17. This year’s line-up saw a strong international presence, with three of the five competitors hailing from Europe and the other two from the United States. This year’s photographers were Brent Benson, Christoph Oberschneider, Florian Breitenberger, Frode Sandbech, and Morgan Maassen, After the five photographers presented their slideshows to the sold out audience, the judges named second-time competitor Frode Sandbech the winner and the recipient of $10,000 in prize money plus additional prizing from OLYMPUS for being named Best In Show. Sandbech also took home the People’s Choice Award that night by a landslide and received an additional $1,200 in prizing.
  • World Skiing Invitational / Association of Freeskiing Professionals World Championships Gibbons Life Big Air The World Skiing Invitational / AFP World Championships drew a huge crowd of spectators on Saturday, April 19 to the base of Whistler Mountain where Sweden’s Jesper Tjader walked away with the win at the World Ski & Snowboard Festival’s Gibbons Life Big Air. Tjader earned a score of 90.00 on his second run which landed him the $6,000 first place cheque. Following closely was Bobby Brown (USA) with a score of 89.00, good enough for second place and $4,000 in prize money. Vincent Gagnier (CAN) rounded out the podium in third with a score of 87.60 and receiving $2,000 in prize money.
  • World Skiing Invitational / Association of Freeskiing Professionals World Championships Samsung Slopestyle The World Skiing Invitational and Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) World Championships wrapped up on Sunday, April 20 with Evan McEachran (CAN) and Nikki Blackall (CAN) taking the wins in the Men’s and Women’s Samsung Slopestyle in the Nintendo Terrain Park at Whistler Blackcomb. A foggy day on Blackcomb Mountain created an extra challenge for athletes and forced a cancellation of the Men’s Slopestyle Finals which meant the results from Sunday’s two-run Eliminations would stand. McEachran’s strong 87.17 point run put him ahead of the field earning him first place and $6,000 to finish off the season. Bobby Brown (USA) threw down a solid run scoring 84.67 points for second place and $4,000 in prize money. In third place earning $2,000 was Jossi Wells (NZL) with a score of 81.33. Nikki Blackall was able to jump into first place to earn $5,000 after her strong 77.67 point run in the Women’s Final. In second place was Anouk Purnelle-Faniel (CAN) earning $3,000 with her score of 67.67, and Cassie Sharpe (CAN) rounded out the podium in third place grabbing a $1,500 cheque with her score of 57.50
  • Super BRAWL Sunday: Invitational Roller Derby Bout Super BRAWL Sunday, Whistler’s second annual Roller Derby Bout held during WSSF, took place on the final day of the Festival in the Whistler Conference Centre. Whistler’s own Black Diamond Betties took on the Red Tide Warning from the Sunshine Coast in an exciting bout in front of a packed house. The Black Diamond Betties had a slow start while The Red Tide Warning came out strong from the first whistle. The Red Tide Warning went into half time with a large lead on the Betties but from the start of the second period the Betties came back with renewed energy and dominated the second period. The Black Diamond Betties eventually emerged victorious at the end of the bout with a final score of 205-141.

LastDayGroupShot On top of the world: That's yours truly (second on the right) with some friends up on the Blackcomb Mountain glacier