PISTE OFF – WHITECAP ALPINE
Words by Matt Coté | Photos by Bruno Long As he drives his skis through a mix of settled pow and thin...
Over the course of the past week, from February 22nd through the 26th, Oakley Week was held in Whistler Blackcomb. After making its triumphant debut last winter, the biggest eyewear brand in the world brought a smorgasbord of action and athletes to their sophomore effort, courtesy of a stress-free and shits-and-giggles series of events.
Included on the menu was an all-you-can-eat offering of activities, including daily demos, backcountry clinics, first tracks and mini pipe jams with Team Oakley, and much more, all of which Forecast and our brothers from the same mother at King Snow were front and centre at.
The free-for-all began on Wednesday morning with the first of five days of demos, where the throng of snow enthusiasts on hand at Whistler Blackcomb (courtesy of Family Day and President’s Day) could ditch their Dad’s dusty goggles in favour of a fresh pair of Oakley’s for a few laps, to see (both figuratively and literally) all that their Prizm Lens Technology has to offer. Hint: it’s a lot.
On Thursday, members of the all-star roster that make up the Oakley Team took a trip down the Sea to Sky Highway to nearby Powder Mountain Catskiing, where a day’s worth of powder hounding ensued. Included in the stacked squad were Sean Pettit and Logan Pehota on the ski side of things, while Stale Sandebach, Sven Thorgen and local flavour Rusty Ockenden and Charles Reid sent it for snowboarders.
While big-rig cameras were residing in the cat, in the spirit of Oakley Week, which was all about having good ol’ fashioned times with good friends, a planned photo shoot was quickly replaced by a party shred, as athletes and media alike took turns rocking and rolling off natural wind lips and cornices while iPhoning each other’s exploits.
Following a day’s worth of smiles bigger than the terrain that was skied, a mouth watering meal at the Groovemeister’s (aka Sean Pettit’s dad) restaurant, Legs Diamond, and a booze-soaked afterparty at the GLC, the dawn of the weekend saw one-plankers take to the freshly constructed mini-pipe to shred with legendary pro snowboarder Torstein Horgmo.
Two days worth of Mini Pipe Challenges followed on Saturday and Sunday in the same setting, where local whippersnappers had the chance to strut their stuff for an Oakley Golden Ticket (which would earn them a free pair goggles), all while taking in trick tips and slapping high-fives with aforementioned and additional members of the Oakley Team, including Olympic snowboard slopestyle gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg.
Also highlighting the weekend were a duo of backcountry-focused clinics. The off-piste opportunities began on Saturday, which saw those who wanted to learn how to ski tour or split board be taken to Oakley Base Camp in Flute Bowl for some outside-the-ropes education, followed by a fun-filled grind.
The following day, an introductory avalanche clinic was offered for first-timers in Symphony Bowl, during which the incredibly dialed-in Mountain Skills Academy (who also ran the ski touring/split boarding clinic) dropped knowledge on beacon training, probing, proper shoveling and more.
The best part? Not only were these clinics complementary, courtesy of Oakley, but in the event that participants lacked the necessary tools of the trade to partake… so was the gear.
Bigs up to the good people at Oakley and Whistler Blackcomb for making such an inspiring and fun-filled mini-festival happen, while giving members of the public the opportunity to rub shoulders with their superheroes, better their backcountry knowledge, and enjoy being in the great outdoors that much more. In a world of events that separates the public from the pros via energy drink banners and television cameras, it was refreshing to see such a stalwart of the industry keep it so real.