Marcel Hunt came to Whistler in search of some good times on his bike.
But in just two short months, he's already exceeded his expectations.
The 28-year-old arrived from the United Kingdom in mid-May with his girlfriend, Alice, and decided on a whim to enter the Big White Invitational Slopestyle bronze event on July 5. Hunt placed third and punched a ticket to the gold event, where he placed 17th against the sports biggest names, such as winner Nicholi Rogatkin.
Hunt hit the podium in the bronze event on the strength of his first run, scoring an 82.33. But in the gold event, he put down a decent first run and built on it to ultimately go home with a 62.33 tally.
"When it came up to the second run, I knew I had to up it a little bit, but I had in my head what I wanted to do. On my first jump, I did a flip barspin, and in my head, I wanted to flip whip last and I managed to do that on the biggest jump there, and do it clean," he said.
Hunt loved the course, noting while he enjoyed the bronze run, he was glad to graduate to the gold setup.
"The jumps are big-boy jumps in the gold. They're massive," he said.
In particular, the course contained a feature that reminded him of home, when he was a young rider crafting his own fun.
"The one that did it for me was the step-on, step-off whale tail. We built one of those in the U.K. but on such a smaller scale. It was tiny and this thing is huge," he said. "I just enjoyed riding that."
Hunt said he was drawn to the Big White event when he saw the course about two weeks beforehand, but needed to cobble together a proper bike in order to actually feasibly compete.
"I had a frame, I had some basics, parts, but I needed it all built," he said, crediting Chromag and Whistler Village Sports for helping him get a useable ride in place. "I had one day of practice on it and then I had to drive to Kelowna and start practicing on the bronze course.
"It was so rushed and stressful getting the bike built and then coming to this event."
Hunt grew up riding on a farm, and described his biking upbringing as a mix of dirt jumping and street riding, which served him well in his dips into slopestyle.
"Slopestyle is almost a mixture because you have to 360 down a flat drop—it's almost like 360ing off a set of stairs," he said.
Hunt later launched a successful campaign for a spot in Crankworx's Clif Dual Speed and Style on Aug. 11.
He arrived in Whistler in mid-May and has been like a kid in a candy store ever since, and is thrilled to compete in his adopted home.
"It's the dream since I was a kid. When I was younger, we'd watch Crankworx on Pinkbike. Whistler was always the biggest one. It's just been surreal getting to ride my bike every day," he said.