Story and photos by www.mikecranephotography.com
"I am the critic and the fan. I am the co-opted, the collaborator and I am constantly re-creating myself over and over, drawing up from the grassroots and reaching for the stars. I throw down, but never stay down. I am an artist and not playing inside the lines. I am one of kind and together we are the world. I bang the million drums for passion, commitment, bluebird days and attitude. I am here today and gone tomorrow. I am the moment that is constantly passing. I am the powder dump that cannot last. I am the future. We are all riding together. This is my Festival and I LOVE IT"
Lisa Richardson/Jasmine Robinson, Watermark Inc.
As the days grow longer, thawing the valley lakes and clearing our vast networks of trails and golf courses of the winter memories still fresh in our minds, the end of another season is upon us. With the spring air comes the always anticipated but never overrated grand finale celebration, winter's closing chapter, before we move on to the endless summer exploits and adventures on offer in our own slice of mountain paradise.
For fifteen seasons, Whistler's original - often imitated but never duplicated - World Ski and Snowboard Festival has been setting the bar for everything that a winter sports festival should be, at the threshold of innovation for snow sports, youth culture and mountain lifestyle.
The festival has its roots in the World Technical Skiing Championships, held on Blackcomb Mountain between April 29 and May 2 1994. It was the first ever joint marketing initiative between then separate Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and the Whistler Resort Association (which became Tourism Whistler), rapidly evolving into a 10 day collection of independent winter sport events in 1995.
In 1996, the World Ski and Snowboard Festival was born to increase late season visitation to the resort by simultaneously hosting the second World Technical Skiing Championships, the World Masters Alpine Open, the World Ski Instructors Festival, the Westbeach Snowboard Classic, the Air Canada Whistler Cup, the Couloir Extreme Race and an industry week.
The first year brought a small but encouraging increase in visitation to Whistler in a once quiet time of the year.
After almost being cancelled in 1997 the festival would go on to add music to its lineup in 1998 by hosting the Matthew Good Band, Econoline Crush and an up-and-coming band named Nickelback. That year would see its first significant increase in visitation, helping to surpass all previous visitor records for the month of April, ultimately recognizing the potential of some of the best late season spring skiing and riding in the world while helping to economically sustain an extended winter season for Whistler.