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Feature - Untouchable

From humble beginnings the World Ski and Snowboard Festival has become the ultimate celebration of snow sports

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The rest of the distractions we’ve come to know and look forward to will also be back this year. The Pro Photographer Showdown will blow our minds with images we thought were impossible to catch on film. The snowboarders will wow us with their Big Air, pipe and park antics. Skateboarders and BMXers will more or less defy gravity in the Vert Zone. The Doggie Parade will be as cute as a 100-strong pack of dressed-up dogs can be. The Battle of the Ski Schools is back, making us all wonder why we can’t ski that well. And on and on.

Of course, there will also be virtually every single snowtoy maker in the world hawking their latest and greatest inventions, pressing the flesh, rewarding their best producers and holding some of the best parties you’re not invited to. Local’s hint: Crash early, crash often.

And the village will be temporarily converted into a logo farm with tents and marquees showcasing everything from cell phones to cereal. Somebody’s got to pay the bills for this party.

If you live here and see this circus every year, it’s easy to lose sight of just what an extravaganza it really is. Hell, rumour has it even one of the partners in this enterprise doesn’t fully understand what an important event it is. Any other resort in North America – or the world for that matter – would gladly lose body parts to call the WSSF home.

Skiing in Argentina last June with Brad Fayfield, publisher of Freeskier magazine, helped put it in perspective for me. We talked about a lot of things on that trip but somehow, we kept coming back to the festival; it was one of Brad’s favourite topics. His enthusiasm was boundless, not just because his magazine is a sponsor, but because he believed the festival was nothing short of incredible. I’ll let him have the last word.

"Skiing and snowboarding are as much about lifestyle as they are about riding. And when it comes to melding the two, Whistler throws down harder than any resort in North America. Add a festival like WSSF to the mix, and Whistler's untouchable."

Cool, eh?