Powder 8’ers ride the rough 

After several weeks of sunshine and hard-packed conditions, the weather finally provided some timely fresh snow for the Whistler-Blackcomb Powder 8 competition.

Whistler weather, however, is not without a sense of humour. There was over 100 cm of snow reported on the morning of the competition, but the term ‘powder’ could only be used in the loosest of terms – Sierra Cement, Schmoo, and Elephant Snot were just a few of the printable terms overhead at the start.

Nevertheless, 18 teams gathered at the top of the Dave Murray Downhill to vie for a chance at the top prizes: two all-inclusive trips to the World Powder 8 Championships at Mike Wiegele’s Heli Skiing.

Following the format of the World Championships, the five women’s and 13 men’s teams that entered were reduced to the top four and eight teams respectively after the first round.

The following rounds were all head-to-head, with the winning team advancing to the next round.

Each team of two skiers is evaluated on synchronization, turn shape, symmetry and speed. Strategy played a key role, as the snow conditions were certainly more challenging than the untracked, light powder we all dream about.

With all the teams being comprised of professional skiers, the competition was fierce, making the four judges’ decisions very difficult. The teams that adapted their skiing style to the inconsistent snow were more successful.

I would have liked to say "when the dust settled," but realistically it was "when the underwear finally soaked through," the team of Natalie Morel and Tracy Dunlop won the women’s competition, while Wade Sutton and Bart Barczynski triumphed in the men’s division.

Both teams, representing the finest of the Whistler Mountain Ski School, will head to Blue River for the World Championships, from April 14 to 18.

Special thanks to Mike Wiegele’s Heli Skiing for providing the grand prizes, Can-Ski for providing prizes to the runners-up, and Whistler Mountain for hosting the event.

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