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...
The latest and greatest installment of Oakley Week recently wrapped up in Whistler, B.C., and like each and every year, good times were had by all.
Skier’s Plaza at the base of Whistler Blackcomb. Photo by Shawn Bennett
Over the course of five days, the biggest eyewear brand in the world provided a festival-like atmosphere in and around Whistler Blackcomb, with a host of on and off-hill events that their all-star roster of athletes, and more importantly, the general public, were able to enjoy.
Whistler Mountain. Photo by Shawn Bennett
The proceedings began on Wednesday at the headquarters of Blackcomb Helicopters, where some of Oakley’s stacked team joined members of the scumbag media (i.e. us, and our brothers from the same mother at King Snow) for an afternoon of whirly birding, party shredding and camaraderie building in the backcountry.
A bird and a hound. Photo by Jeff Schmuck
The cargo the duo of choppers began to carry resembled a condensed X Games or Olympic athlete lounge, with Sean Pettit, Tatum Monod and Alex Beaulieu-Marchand on the ski side of things, while Olympic gold medalists Seb Toots and Jamie Anderson, alongside Craig McMorris, Tyler Nicholson, Rusty Ockenden and Charles Reid, rounded it out for the snowboarders.
Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, Tatum Monod, Sean Pettit, Craig McMorris and Rusty Ockenden. Photo by Shawn Bennett
A couple of bluebird heli bumps later, and the squad was high on the shoulder of Mount Currie overlooking Pemberton, B.C., where a few of the more park-focused riders proceeded to rejoice in the excitement of their first time heli-riding.
Getting the shot. Photo by Shawn Bennett
Alex Beaulieu-Marchand. Photo by Jeff Schmuck
“This is seriously a dream come true,” commented Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, Canada’s Olympic bronze medalist in ski slopestyle. “It’s awesome to have an opportunity to ski something other a slopestyle course, and just what I needed.”
Alex Beaulieu-Marchand. Photo by Shawn Bennett
Tatum Monod. Photo by Shawn Bennett
Following eight high-altitude laps of spring pow shredding, the crew turned their attention to the agedashi tofu of Sushi Village, and later, the bobblehead-like atmosphere of Maxx Fish, where skiers and snowboarders alike lined up for selfies with Seb Toots and a shot at winning Oakley swag from a makeshift gumball machine.
Maxx Fish. Photo by Shawn Bennett
While the next morning was foggy for some, it dawned without a cloud in the sky, at which point it was the public’s turn to reap the benefits of Oakley Week.
Oakley’s Prizm Lab. Photo by Shawn Bennett
Photo by Jeff Schmuck
Photos by Jeff Schmuck
Providing a warm welcome at the base was the Oakley Prizm Lounge, where patrons could learn about the mad science behind Oakley’s products, while on-hill demo centres awaited them near the top, giving those with aging eyewear a chance to both literally and figuratively see the light.
Oakley’s on-hill demo centre. Photo by Jeff Schmuck
“I’ve demoed skis before, but never goggles, and it’s amazing to see what a difference they make,” said one happy customer. “It was such a simple but great way for me to make the most out of my day, especially with how sunny it is.”
Photo by Jeff Schmuck
Just outside the ropes in Whistler Mountain’s Symphony Bowl was the centrepiece of the week, an oversized Oakley warming tent, complete with a campfire and snacks for passers by, and ground zero for those who were savvy enough to promptly sign up for a duo of good natured opportunities that Oakley provided.
Oakley’s backcountry warming tent. Photo by Shawn Bennett
Campfire songs. Photo by Stephanie Stipac
The first, which took place on Friday and Saturday, was a free ski touring/split boarding clinic, where a gaggle of guides taught members of the general public the tricks of the trade when it came to applying skins and moving uphill before making your way down.
Showing some skin. Photo by Jeff Schmuck
Caley Vanular, Rusty Ockenden and Charles Reid lead the charge. Photos by Jeff Schmuck
“It’s pretty cool to be able to learn how to do this for free,” said a newly minted ski tourer from the southern U.S. “The guides were incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, and I had never been in the backcountry before, so it was a great experience for me, all thanks to Oakley.”
Walking on sunshine. Photo by Shawn Bennett
The second complementary clinic, which took place on Sunday, focused on avalanche safety, where members of the Mountain Skills Academy showed snow sports enthusiasts (including a seriously stoked Alex Beaulieu-Marchand) how to properly use a transceiver, probe and shovel, and what to do with them if the worst does happen.
Safety first. Photo by Stephanie Stipac
Digging in. Photo by Stephanie Stipac
On behalf of all of us at Forecast, and the many smiling faces we saw over the weekend in Whistler, a big thank you to Oakley for bringing another grassroots event that gives back to those who make the sports of skiing and snowboarding what it is. We already can’t wait for next year.