SKI BIG 3 TRAVERSE
Words by Kevin Hjertaas | Photos by Bruno Long Contradiction, they say, is the key to humour. Perhaps that’s why Rob Heule,...
WORDS BY MIKE BERARD | PHOTOS BY ANATOLE TUZLAK
Joy sits at the centre of our ski experience. Sure, getting upside down off a big ol’ cliff or getting balls deep in cold smoke or finally cleaning that quad-kink might be the goal, but in every case—when done right—it’s fun that fuels our fire. Fernie, British Columbia-based skier and filmmaker Dylan Siggers has lovingly crafted a humble ski career around his own brand of fun-loving ski imagery for the past six years. With his crew and production company, The Burrrlapz—made up of fellow shredders Brody and Josh Mcskimming—he continues to make us believe that skiing can be easier, looser and, yes, way more fun. Each successive edit brings more off-camera chuckles, a unique POV, a cacophony of crashes, and a silly, strange vibe that taps the inner child in his increasingly captivated audience.
Like many professional skiers, Siggers grew up in a small ski town. Unlike many skiers with a sponsorship, he never left. At 26, he still calls the town that shaped him home. With a lot of love in the tank for Fernie, his wife Sophie and a new house in the old Kootenay coal-mining town, he has no plans of leaving. Just like his dad before him. Siggers’ father, Robin, who has been a permanent fixture at Fernie Alpine Resort for decades, deserves the most credit for turning his son into one of the most entertaining underdog skiers in Canada. You may even recognize him from the infamous viral video where he goes gleefully nuts doing a snow check. Rewind back to the ’70s, when he moved there as a 22-year-old ski bum.
“He had been living in Whistler for two or three years, living in a squatter’s cabin with a buddy, somewhere around where Blackcomb Gondola tower number six is now,” says his son. “When they built Blackcomb, he had to leave, and ended up in Fernie.”
At the time, it was a little-known powder utopia called Fernie Snow Valley. In a familiar ski town move, his dad never left, instead auguring in deeper as a ski patroller, then head of ski patrol, and then manager of the whole damn ski resort. And that’s where Dylan’s origin story truly begins.
At the age of two, Siggers already had the run of what might be B.C.’s most underrated destination for both deep snow and gnarly lines. And when the whole resort has your back from age two, you tend to get an education few others do. “My dad would take me up to watch them shoot the avalauncher [gun], or to go on ski-cutting missions. Obviously, that kind of thing doesn’t happen anymore,” he says, laughing.
Since then, Siggers has become a one-man marketing machine for Fernie Alpine Resort. “Resorts of the Canadian Rockies [RCR, Fernie’s parent company] is one of the most supportive of all my sponsors,” he says. “I pitch an idea to [RCR’s senior vice president of marketing and resort experience] Matt Mosteller and he’s always like, ‘Yep, let’s do it!’” It’s a smart move, as Siggers’ videos are increasingly influential in the world of skiing, despite coming from a mostly quiet corner of the ski universe.
Both the good-times vibe and attention to detail have served Siggers well, and come together flawlessly in his skiing. His style is a unique mix of effortless movement, playful expression and just a little bit of loose-as-hell aesthetic. This isn’t to say Siggers isn’t exact in his execution. Even in his early edits, the conscious attempt to keep things creative can be seen clearly. “Everything looks silly and fun and ‘skiing is dumb!’” he says. “But personally, I am extremely picky. I like things to look—not perfectly crafted—but how I want it to look. There’s a lot of pretending that we don’t care, but we really do. Well, I do.”
In a recent edit, That’s Life, Siggers’ skills shine bright both on skis and behind the camera, but it might just be Fernie’s terrain that shows off the most. Siggers is a product of this environment. He demonstrates an ability to get lovably weird on snow, a skill that has developed from playful, unhindered access to a mountain without a substantial terrain park—or at least a mostly buried terrain park. Fernie gets dumped on regularly, and lips and trannies are understandably last on the list of priorities. Siggers’ maturing sense in the big mountain environment reminds viewers just what it means to be raised in the Rockies.
Overall, though, it’s his unique approach to skiing that makes people tune in. When I ask him why he chooses such unorthodox lines, he takes it as a compliment. “I think that’s exactly what I am going for,” he says. “I like getting sketchy. I think I am a competitive skier—not like I want to win the sport, but if someone does a thing, I want to try that thing in a different, harder way.”
It’s working. Siggers was a finalist in Level 1 Productions’ Superunknown video contest in 2015, The Burrrlapz won the World Ski and Snowboard Festival’s Intersection film competition in 2018, and he’s spent his fair share of time skiing with some heavy hitters since he joined the Line Skis team over 10 years ago.
If anything, the Fernie skier is proof that a life spent skiing for dollars can be done differently, far from the well-trodden path, executed with loose precision, for the sake of creativity and joy alone. “I just ski. I’m not chasing the pro dream or schmoozing. As long as I like skiing, I am going to do it.”
Skiing could use more Dylan Siggers, even if it doesn’t understand exactly why.