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Living Large

The culture of extreme skiers



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Then there are others who see the ads and magazines and come to Whistler to experience it for themselves. Unfortunately for some they quickly find themselves in over their heads and the culture of extremists has little sympathy for those who try to go too far too fast.

One of the first people I am steered towards while researching this article was J.D. Hare J.D. spends his nights working in a local ski shop, but his day job is skiing.

J.D. is originally from Ontario and grew up skiing on Blue Mountain. But of course in Canada if you are looking for big mountains you come west. He is a tall, easy going 23 year old, with a prominent scar on his forehead. We meet at Behind the Grind, a local coffee shop favoured by locals and especially popular with hardcore mountain bikers during the summer months.

As we sit down, he calls over a friend. "Joe you should get in on this as well." Then to me: "Joe’s definitely someone you should be talking to."

Joe is Joe Lamers, who grew up in B.C. and who at the age of 30 informs me that he has been skiing for 26 years. Joe has a more manic personality than J.D. He is, I suppose, more in your face. The contrast between their personalities is interesting, since they share such similar philosophies towards extreme skiing.

First of all J.D. informs me that the extreme part has to be put in context.

"You start off as a skier and go further and further, you’re always evolving."

Joe nods in agreement and adds that he considers himself just a skier. I point out that most people who just ski, don’t usually run the risk of being taken out by an avalanche or falling into a crevasse. Yes, he says, "But when you’re skiing at such a high level it doesn’t really seem extreme and the guys you are skiing with are doing it too."

"Anyone who is really stoked on skiing will eventually go extreme, but that’s Whistler," says J.D.

"You get tired of skiing the same stuff, I need stimulation," says Joe.

I don’t doubt that Joe is someone looking for stimulation, but getting back to objective dangers, what about the fact that you are doing something that can get you killed?

"Well I’m not playing a role. I didn’t read the back of a No Fear T-shirt and get inspired. I’ve been at this for a long time," says Joe.