The spectacle of kids as young as 10 hucking themselves off of cliffs and skiing the couloirs of Gloom and Doom on Whistler Mountain drew a crowd on Sunday, as the Whistler Kids Freeride Club held its second annual big mountain freeride contest.
The program, which is in its third year, teaches kids aged 10 and up how to ski alpine terrain safely while making the most of the steeps, deeps, cliffs and other features. When the slopes get skied out, they head to the terrain park to practice spins, spines, rails and other features.
The contest gives the kids a chance to put what theyve learned to the test, as they ski challenging lines to the best of their ability.
According to Derek Foose, the head coach and founder of the club, the kids skied harder and smarter than he could have hoped for.
"It went very well, pretty much as well as it could have," he said. "We had a lot of people watching, and the kids skied well, and smart, which was nice to see. They all skied lines in their ability, and made the lines look really good."
Some of the kids opted for double drops off cliffs, while others looked for steeps.
"All of the cliffs and couloirs and steeps got hit, and the kids stuck everything. They were throwing big 360s off the bottom airs, and doing some really fast skiing through some steep, rough terrain," said Foose.
"It was good to see the kids werent just flinging themselves out there for glory, but stuck with what they knew they could do."
The area received almost 15 centimetres of snow in the previous weeks, including five the night before the competition, and the conditions were soft enough for the kids to safely ski just about anywhere in the area.
"The kids were so stoked. They had fun skiing, landed everything, and there were some really good prizes from our sponsors. A lot of the local stores came through for us as well," Foose said.
The Whistler Kids Freeride Club currently has 35 members and four coaches, and is run through the Whistler-Blackcomb Ski School. The first year Foose had just six kids, and in the next year there were 25.
Foose created the club because he saw a need to give kids somewhere to go after ski racing. Many of them picked up on freeskiing, he says, but didnt have any direction on how to ski the terrain safely.
The judges for the contest on Gloom and Doom included freeskiers Pete Smart, Paddy Kaye and Robin Courcelles as well as Ski Canada Magazine writer Chris Lennon, who will be writing a feature on the club for next season.
1. Ali Milner 62 points
2. Jasmine Hundriks 60
3. Erin Kerr 59
4. Lonnie Wake 46
5. Ariana Stufano 42
1. Ryan Sullivan 76
2. Leahm Macmillan 71
3. Alex Prochazka 69
3. Connor Russell 69 (tie)
4. Frazer Mcgaw 65
5. Jeffrey Gage 64