Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

The ritual begins



In the dark abyss of the night before Christmas, it was touch and go whether I’d ever make it to New Years, let alone spring and the beginning of the end of the 2005-06 ski season. Hammering furiously to patch holes in the hull of my ark, demented and delusional from pounding rain brought by Hawaii’s regifted early Christmas present, ready to chuck it all for a piece of dry desert in the outback of Arizona, I never expected to arrive intact and sane on the threshold of yet another episode of the World’s Greatest End of Season Party. Well, one outta two ain’t bad.

By the time you read this, we will have passed over into a really, really good Friday and the 11 th installment of the huck ’n’ jive, World Ski and Snowboard Festival will be setting the sonic beat for the next 10 days. It all begins when some band called Default takes the mainstage, tweaks their dials and commences the ritual, annual, Tap the Sap flow of springlike energy.

Welcome to insanity. Welcome to WoSaSoFe – thought I’d try out some vowels in the name this year. Sounds very tribal, don’t you think?

And tribal it is. A delicate détente has been hammered out this year between the tribes of Shredders, Jibbers and Skiers. One, one, we are all in one they chanted at this year’s athletes’ meeting. No more Us and Them, just the harmonious We. With the return of snow at the bottom of Whistler Mountain came the prospect, nay, the promise of Big Air. And with the promise of Big Air arose the Big Question. Which came first? Skier or Boarder?

This could, of course, be the seminal question behind a groundbreaking piece of scholarly research. It could, but it’s unlikely to be. It was, however, the hot-button question bandied about by the athletes at their Meeting of the Tribes confab. "We don’t get no respect," came the cry from the single-plank crowd. "We invented Big Air," proclaimed another.

"Two feet; two sticks," retorted a drunken skier. And bedlam broke loose.

As the Party Dude, Doug Perry, described it to me himself, "Max, it was the closest thing to a riot I’ve seen since the last time we let these guys play hockey against each other." Or words to that effect.

Anyway, and I digress, the upshot of it all was instead of having two Big Air huckfests bookending the festival and letting the tribes snipe at each other over whether it’s a bigger honour to go first or go last – don’t tell the snowboarders, but the answer was going last – everybody gets to go at the same time and we who only spectate don’t have to stand around freezing our feet off twice oohing and ahhing the prodigious feats of antigravity.

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