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WSSF 2005: It’s the arts, Hucker

The festival is as much a celebration of ski and snowboard culture as it is about skiing and snowboarding


By G.D. Maxwell

Everybody knows the story by now. Doug Perry, professional skier, semi-professional ski bum, pulls up a chess board, stares down Death and averts what could have been the mother of all premature mid-life crises.

Fresh from a smokin’ tour of the All Japan Technical Ski Championships with the Salomon international pro team, Doug knew two things for certain. One was he had a jones for skiing as big as all outdoors. The other was he had the knees of a recreational skier, not a pro.

Facin’ the grim prospect of being a washed-up ex-pro skier selling life insurance or… or redefining his reality to include something, anything, that kept him in the skiing game but not in one of its existing boxes – instructor, bum, sales rep, bum, coach, bum – he came up with the brilliantly hare-brained scheme to launch the World Technical Skiing Championships.

Saddled with a turn of phrase having all the cachet of a casket catalog, a roster of events that included speed skiing, powder 8s, freestyle and something called the Bigfoot Challenge, Doug decided on an improbable hat trick. He decided to hold the whole thing during the height of the end of the season… April.

Brilliant was not the descriptor that came to most people’s minds. Truth be told, it seemed more like a slow, painful form of suicide.

"Sponsors were scarce; spectators scarcer," Doug said of that first year. Undeterred, he soldiered on.

Things went downhill from there.

"There almost wasn’t a second annual whatever," he said. The event’s seed money didn’t sprout, sponsors were skeptical and no one was getting paid. The only ones who were having a good time were the athletes – because they played a lead role in designing the competitive events – and partygoers who, let’s face it, have a good time no matter who throws the party.

Fast forward a few years and, voila! Doug adds music to the mix, the crowd goes crazy, the anything-for-a-free-lunch ski media types hype what has morphed into one smokin’ end-of-season party and the World Ski and Snowboard Festival becomes the shining light of Mountain Kulture. A bona fide don’t-miss event.

And now it’s 10 years old. Happy Birthday Big Boy.

Of course, the 10 th annual edition of Doug’s Excellent Adventure bears less resemblance to the first than Whistler 2005 bears to Whistler 1995. Virtually none of the original events have survived. The addition of music spawned the addition of arts and the festival has become an extravaganza of photography, filmmaking, story telling, art, music, dancing and some of the most over-the-top skiing and riding and rail jamming ever featured in a humble Canadian ski town.