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The fine art of the après

Drinking beer from a ski boot, lighting chest hair on fire – just keep the momentum going



After a day on the mountain - whether you've been waist-deep in powder all day or spent most of the morning catching edges on icy patches - nothing beats a cold beer with friends and family on a patio, the sun just starting to set in the distance.

Of course, this après ski tradition isn't complete without enjoying a well-deserved snack and some serious entertainment while still wearing ski boots, sweat on your brow and a smile on your face.

In Whistler, the undisputed kings of the après session are Guitar Doug (Doug Craig) and Grateful Greg (Greg Reamsbottom), otherwise known as The Hairfarmers. This beloved bearded duo has been rockin' local patios for 10 years, providing a soundtrack for the Whistler après ski experience with a mic, hand drums and guitar.

They've been voted Best Band in the Best of Whistler Awards for six years running, and during an average year, they play about 250 shows. While that's pretty impressive on its own, The Hairfarmers are stepping up their game in a big way for the Olympics, playing more than 40 shows in the month of February, the majority of which will go down at the après hour at Merlin's in the Upper Village.

But what is it about this bogarted European tradition that seems to resonate with the people of Whistler?

"It's the momentum you created up on the hill playing in the mountains all day, you try and prolong that for as long as possible and if you can come down and have that much fun in the club with your friends that you've been up on the mountain with - it's a different kind of fun, but it can be just as much fun - then why not?" Reamsbottom said. "Keep the ball rolling!"

The Hairfarmers are, in many cases, the men responsible for keeping that après ski adrenaline pumping.

Both long-time Whistler residents - Reamsbottom for about 10 years, Craig for twice that time - the European tradition hadn't really taken off in Whistler when they first arrived. People would just congregate at the bottom of the hill and drink beer in parking lots, or go to Dusty's to grab a bite to eat and head home.

"There was no party," Craig recalled.

All that changed when The Hairfarmers came onto the scene.

Last Friday, Merlin's was packed with skiers and snowboarders decked out in sweaty, semi-sticky glory - the audience a veritable sea of ski boots and toques, rocking out and singing along to classic hits like Roxanne.

"We never plan anything ahead - we never have, and we probably never will," Reamsbottom said. "It's all about if you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, the good things will be happening, and if you're doing it right, it'll happen even faster! Just let the universe unfold as it sees fit."