Words by Jeff Schmuck | Photos by Oisin McHugh

Following a trio of sold out and incredibly well-received multimedia showcases—the 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown, Sea to Sky Photo Challenge, and Intersection—the World Ski & Snowboard Festival (WSSF) wrapped up in Whistler, B.C. over the weekend with a duo of on-mountain events.

On Saturday, the highly anticipated and infamous Saudan Couloir Race Extreme presented by Helly Hansen went down on the event’s namesake run atop Blackcomb Mountain. Appropriately hailed as “2,500 vertical feet of thigh-burning hell,” the iconic competition, which started in 1987 and is billed as the steepest ski race in the world, saw both skiers and snowboarders navigate through race gates in the belly of the 42-degree couloir, before continuing down to the base of the Jersey Cream chair in a true test of endurance.

And while Mother Nature continued to decide that winter isn’t done in Whistler via peppering the couloir with blustery winds and a dusting of snowfall, it didn’t dampen the racers’ spirits or speed, as over 100 skiers and snowboarders stepped up to test their mettle on the daunting course.

In the end, after pushing their bodies (and particularly their thighs and knees) to the limit, only some could prevail, and since the gargantuan start list and full results would be a bit too lengthy to display, here’s a look at who podiumed in each of the nine categories…

Pro Ski Women

1) Marie-Pier Préfontaine
2) Meg Cumming
3) Laura Swaffield

Pro Ski Men

1) Max Kirshenblatt
2) Dominic Unterberger
3) Evan Foti

Ski Women 30+

1) Alex Jessett
2) Sarah Stevenson
3) Sally Bennett

Ski Women 19-29

1) Emma Howat
2) Keira Glaeser
3) Katy McClintic

Ski Men 50+

1) Robert Brudar
2) Ken Pederson
3) Shane Szocs

Ski Men 35-49

1) J-F Robert
2) Ian McLaughlin
3) Adam Arsenault

Ski Men 19-35

1) Ozama Takahiro
2) Ben Buchsteiner
3) Etienne Ferron-Gagnon

Snowboard Women

1) Sara Niblock
2) Rheanna Chow
3) Kumi Morishita

Snowboard Men

1) Jonathan Penfield
2) Alan Gautier
3) Kian Esmaili

After another memorable installment of the above was in the books, the vibe shifted from fortitude to fun on Sunday courtesy of a time-honoured springtime tradition at ski resorts across the continent: the Slush Cup presented by Corona Tropical.

With pow blanketing the pond skim beneath the summit of Whistler Mountain, the quintessential sunny weather that tends to coincide with most slush cups failed to materialize. But much like the previous day—and thanks to it being Whistler Mountain’s final day of operation (Blackcomb will remain open until May 22nd)—a throng of competitors and fans came out to partake in the costumed carnage and hilarity that ensued, and to say that a hell of a good time was had by all would be an understatement bigger than the size of Whistler Blackcomb’s vertical drop.  

Once the on-hill achievements and shenanigans concluded, the masses turned their attention to another storied aspect of WSSF: the parties. Specifically, the Corona Tropical Tiki After Party at the Longhorn Saloon, featuring renowned DJ LDRU. And while the weather may have been far from tropical, the mood and merrymaking most certainly were, and the raucous celebration that followed served as the perfect way to cap off the triumphant return of the World Ski & Snowboard Festival.

Huge thanks to the hard-working and wonderful team at Gibbons Whistler for reviving one of the longest-running and legendary events in all of skiing and snowboarding, and to Creative BC and the Province of British Columbia for their financial contributions to the festival, which helped make it happen. A big-time shout out is also in order to the entities that stepped up to show their support, including the Resort Municipality of Whistler through the Resort Municipality Initiative, Tourism Whistler, Helly Hansen, Corona Tropical, the Westin Resort & Spa Whistler, Mountain FM and Scandinave Spa Whistler, along with we at Forecast and our brothers-in-arms at King Snow. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have been involved, and already can’t wait for next year. For more on the World Ski & Snowboard Festival, visit

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