Of the hundreds of snowmobiles that burn through the Whistler backcountry every week, more and more are beginning to carry skis and snowboards. Sled skiing (or sled riding) utilizes a snowmobile to shuttle riders to the top of the slope, usually with two riders doubling on the sled for the ride up and one skiing back down. It is an incredibly fast way to access the backcountry and the vertical you can clock in a day can easily eclipse that of a snowcat or even a helicopter.
What better premise for Sennheiser to enter the world of action sports than to sponsor a motorized backcountry festival? After several years of successful guerrilla marketing campaigns during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival, Sennheiser — which makes headphones and microphones — are officially entering the realm of action sports. Part competition, part music festival and fun for all, the Sennheiser Backcountry Picnic kicked off Thursday evening in Bralorne (March 22) and continued over Friday and Saturday with Sunday on the calendar as a weather day. Organizers expected between 20 and 25 competitors for the freeride competition, scheduled to for Friday.
But this is not your average comp, unlike the sanctioned events on the freeski and freeride world tours; skiers and snowboarders will compete against each other at the Backcountry Picnic, and not for just the best performance - they're also looking for the best movie edit.
"With the fact that we can't take the public into Bralorne, that's where (it) comes into play with everything being on video," said Paget Williams, one of the organizers from Reel Events Management.
"One thing we've got a lot of interest from is the fact that snowboarders and skiers are competing against each other. Its a freeride competition, it's not divided."
Competitors had two days in the Bralorne backcountry to showcase their riding skill, gather helmet camera footage and then compile edits of their runs, which will be posted on the event website. The public will then be able to view all submitted entries and vote for their favourite edit.
"No one is going in there with a full film team or anything," said Williams.
"Everybody has access to the static footage that we shoot and everyone has their (own POV) stuff that they are shooting as well."
The winner will be announced on April 7 and prizes will be awarded on April 14 at a special Backcountry Picnic event during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler. The winning entry will also go on to be shown at the International Freeski Film Festival (IF3) in Montreal.
But a festival of freeride would not be complete without some live entertainment and three artists will be sledding their way into Bralorne for nightly performances at the Mine Shaft Pub. Thursday's opening was scheduled to feature DJ John Lee, Friday was Montreal singer/songwriter Robertson and Saturday's headliner was Canadian reggae legend Jah Cutta.
For more information go to www.sennheiserbackcountrypicnic.com