Two peas in a pipe 

Ryan Mckeeman and Darren Camplin might look like two peas in a pair of puffy jackets...

Ryan Mckeeman and Darren Camplin might look like two peas in a pair of puffy jackets when they’re standing together at the bottom of the Blackcomb Superpipe but when it comes to competing in events like the Superpipe and Superhit at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival they’re leagues apart.

Mckeeman and Camplin work together in Whistler-Blackcomb’s Glacier Shop, they’re both extremely good trick skiers and they’re both in their early 20s, but in the highly competitive world of trick skiing it’s the subtle differences that make all the difference.

Mckeeman is 24, he has a healthy swag of sponsors and last year he came second in the Superhit and finished 10th in the Superpipe.

He is also known for his crowd-pleasing antics at the top of the Superpipe and for his ability to get way out of the pipe.

Camplin is 20, he has no sponsors to speak of yet and last year, in his first attempt at the WSSF, he failed to qualify for the Superpipe.

Camplin and Mckeeman are two living examples of how a few extra seasons and some solid results can make the world of difference in competitive skiing.

They are also examples of the kind of random talent that is literally everywhere in Whistler and most of this talent is going to be on display in the WSSF.

Although they have very different goals for this year’s WSSF, Mckeeman and Camplin have been training with each other and it doesn’t take long to see why.

Camplin lets Mckeeman do the talking about skiing and only chimes in with a thought when it’s absolutely necessary.

For instance, when Mckeeman talked about the kind of tricks athletes are expected to complete in the WSSF he said: "We’ll have to be getting 15 to 18 feet out of the pipe with most of the tricks."

But Camplin was sure: "No, 20 feet (out of the pipe) man".

Regardless of how big the athletes go this year, both Camplin and Mckeeman are confident they can improve.

"I want to finish top five in the pipe and win the superhit," Mckeeman said.

"To win, I think you’re going to have to do a lot of switch tricks – that’s definitely the way things are heading – and go as big as you can because amplitude is always important in competitions like this."

The fact Mckeeman is competing at all is a minor accident because like a lot of other locals, he never intended to live here.

He arrived in Whistler several years ago to complete a work term in university and never left.

During that time Mckeeman has taken a few monumental falls.

"I broke my pelvis at the 2003 US open goofing off on a training run with other pros," he said.

"I fell off a 15-foot rail onto Colorado ice… then I had to come back to Whistler in the back of a pickup."

Despite the unavoidable physical setbacks that are part of competing and the constant distraction of Whistler’s party scene, Mckeeman has maintained a level of focus.

"I’ve seen a lot of people get rapped up in the party scene here and then they just end up leaving; you’ve got to find a balance."

Mckeeman admitted it was not always easy to maintain a level of professionalism when the sport seemed to be changing so dramatically.

"Halfpipe has really gone through the roof in the last few years, it’s so much more technical now.

"My big pet hate is seeing these 15-year-olds come along and they’re hucking their meat and just bouncing and getting up and doing it again."

Mckeeman said there were other advantages to being involved in a sport that was developing new techniques.

"It’s good to see halfpipe develop… because we’re making some of those snowboarders look silly."


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