In case you didn't notice, it's started. Unfortunately, if you didn't notice it has started you're probably dead. Sorry to be the one to break the news to you.
The World Ski and Snowboard Festival — momentarily unhitched from any corporate prefix — is taking its 18th trip around the sun this year, proving that even a weirdly twisted idea can sometimes succeed beyond all reason. "Weirdly twisted," you ask? Well, yes. What else would you call it?
Historical digression: (Which means you can skip this if you think history is unimportant. Of course, if you think that you probably haven't read this far anyway.)
It all started long ago when Whistler's dream in life was to someday become world class. It was a time when ski bums and hippy-jocks ruled the town and duct tape was used more frequently on ski clothes than laundry detergent, unlike today when everybody looks as though they just stepped out of a mountain fashion shoot... the few, remaining, drop-ass snowboarders excluded.
A professional skier facing the end of a career longer on the agony of defeat than the thrill of victory — we'll call him Saint Perry — ascended a high mountain seeking wisdom from a wizened guru. "What is the meaning of life," he asked? He hoped the answer wasn't, "Go to work for da man."
Perhaps it was the altitude, perhaps the mushrooms but what Saint Perry thought he heard the old Yoda say was, "Get off my mountain. Go home and create the World Technical Skiing Championships on your own mountain... in April."
So he did.
And everybody was in awe of his foresight and wisdom. OK, that's not exactly the truth. Everybody thought he was crazy as a wombat and their reaction to that first iteration of what would become the WSSF was best described by the Zen koan, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"
Undeterred, Saint Perry soldiered on.
In true Horatio Alger fashion, things went downhill from there.
But the story has a happy ending, kind of. Sport met culture, culture begat music, photography and film, everybody danced and, if we just gloss over the part where the apostates rose up and banished Saint Perry we can conclude our historical journey by saying WSSF is quite simply the most successful, biggest, baddest celebration of Mountain Kulture to be found anywhere on planet Earth.
Don't believe me? You must not have been around Skier's Plaza Saturday evening. The place was packed for the Big Air competition and even more packed when Nas took the stage. Were there 10,000 people there? Probably. Was that unusual for a Saturday evening in an over-hyped ski town? Inquiring minds want to know.
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