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Maxed Out

A trip down memory lane



If last week's column proved anything it proved you shouldn't mix national and local politics and the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in the same 1,100 words. The Festival deserves all of 'em. And this week, I'm making amends.

Having hit sweet 16, it also deserves a whirlwind snapshot of its previous 15 years. So here we go.

It was 1995 when it all started. A festival in April? In a ski town? What kind of notion was that?

"Ridiculous? How about desperate? Insane? Whacko? All those epithets were applied to the Festival's founder, Doug Perry. I know, because I applied most of them. Let's face it, you have to be a bit of all those to launch the World Technical Skiing Championship at a time of year when all but the most hard-core sliders have put away their snow gear and gotten out their surfboards."

"The WTSC was an instant success... as long as you can stretch the definition of success to include working for nothing, suggesting to stakeholders they hadn't lost their entire investment - it was just hiding - and digging the Zen of the sound of one hand clapping, that being about all the applause generated the first year."

I don't remember year two but year three? "An obscure band called Nickelback played for $500 and a case of beer. They took the stage in the centre of town and rattled the windows of every condo around. The villagers broke out their torches and came looking for whomever was responsible. The rest of the entertainment budget was blown on flowers and 'I'm sorry' gifts."

But it was a groundbreaker. No longer just about athletics, the Festival began to break new cultural ground, adding more events each subsequent year. Of course, not all events were particularly appreciated. 1998's installment, as reported by the RCMP, was "...just a spark away from a riot. The festival crowd was partaking freely of liquor and narcotics..." which resulted in an "...infamous snowball fight..." wherein the crowd, "...inflamed by the emcee who egged (them) into throwing snowballs at the VIPs on the deck of the GLC..." resulted in the "...liquor store being overrun and... 15 arrests."

By my reckoning, that's pretty much when we all decided this thing was a total success. And so it went, through the years.

In 1999, "In a town rife with irony, the World Ski and Snowboard Festival, rolling through the valley for the next 10 days, verily drips with the stuff.  It is the dessert table at a diabetic convention. The two-foot powder dump on freshly plowed golf course greens. The drowning man's glass of water."