Today is the opening day of the Coldsmoke Powder Fest at the Whitewater ski resort in Nelson British Columbia. The event is one of a growing number of modern ski festivals that celebrate skiing for the everyday skier.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Vertfest, a similar event at the Alpental ski area in Washington. Here's a shot of the beginning of the Rando Race:
I noticed three big things about the event:
- Taking yourself too seriously was laughable.
- Many of the participants were average skiers who liked above average fun.
- The downhill skiers riding lifts at Alpental that day were inspired by the burly concept of a ski race that included an uphill element.
The Coldsmoke Festival is sponsored in part by our friends at Arc'teryx, and competitions include a randonnee rally, a ski graphics design contest, a king and queen contest based on participation, a slopestyle contest that includes a timed ascent of the bootpack to the top, a multimedia contest around the theme “Winter Mountain Culture”, a ski touring poker game, and a banked slalom race.
Starting today, a huge selection of clinics at Coldsmoke will cover the kind of skills that everyday skiers really want to know. Subjects include: Intermediate and Advanced Telemark and AT/Alpine Skiing skills, Entering Steeper Terrain, Skiing the Mountain, Mastering Steep Terrain, The Basics of Tree Skiing, Lumps and Bumps, Skiing Wild Snow, A Medical Mystery Tour, A Bag of Tricks for Challenging Terrain, Women Skiing the Mountain, Mastering Black Diamond Terrain, Skiing the Whole Mountain, Parallels on Tele Gear, Women’s Tour, Steeps in the Backcountry and Routefinding and Reading Terrain.
Here’s a video from last year’s Coldsmoke event where the narrator asks participants to describe their ski style:
The diverse responses include:
“awkward and moose-legged”
“sick tricks off big jumps”
“lots of sweat”
“back seat, slightly out of control, but if you get far enough away it looks really good”
Yup, nobody was taking themselves too seriously.
While I’m not easily sold on organized competition in the mountains, this new breed of ski festival seems to be the perfect ratio of fun (at least 80%), learning (maybe 15%) and competition (about 5%). In my world, that’s how skiing should be.
What would you like to see at a ski festival? Maybe we'll put one together at a CMH Heliski Lodge someday...