Maintaining the Vibe
Maintaining the Vibe at the Molson Canadian Freeskiing Challenge 2002
The DOGLOTION.com crew showed up at Rossland BC in a staggered convoy of cars and trucks full of skiers and gear, eager for the Molson Canadian Freeskiing Challenge. Seemed like everyone and their dog had made the 10 hour pilgrimage from Whistler to Rossland, and no cheap motels were to be found. So we headed further east to the zinc-refining jewel they call Trail, BC, where our tracks led us to the seedy Crown Point Hotel. Our instant dizziness might have been from the fumes drifting through town, but we were convinced the walls and hallways were slanted just enough to make anyone queasy upon arrival.
After a night's sleep on the flea infested shag carpet floor, the convoys reassembled and we headed to a better place. On the way to Red Mountain, we couldn't help but ride the brakes as we rolled through the neighbouring town of Rossland, BC, where funky little shops and restaurants are surrounded by an endless playground of urban jibbing potential. Our shag carpet nightmares were soon a thing of the past, and the stoke factor was riding high.
At the mountain we hooked up with local ripper and snow-phone star Stefan Hood, who let us tag along for a fast-track tour of Red's sick terrain. The pea soup visibility was working against us all day, making the high tree line a key ingredient for good times. The Jedi knight scene was on all our minds as us Whistler boys tried to rail our big mountain skis through Red's notoriously tight trees. We bagged gullies, straight-lines, log slides, pillows and wicked tree runs all over the mountain, blindly led through the fog by Stefan's 'local' sensors. Below is Bob Kitchen making the most of the mountain, with style.
The next day brought bluebird skies and wicked scouting conditions for the Molson Canadian Freeskiing Challenge. 150 competitors showed up from around North America to compete in the Challenge, and the vibe of enthusiasm and excitement was unreal. Everyone dialed their lines for the Lynx line qualifier and the Mt Roberts final venue, only to be ambushed by Mother Nature on Day 1 of the Challenge. The women finished their runs, but Red's notorious mid-mountain fog forced event organizers to postpone the men's heat, using up their weather day right off the bat.
Day 2 of the Challenge turned out just as nasty, but the quick thinking organizers and mountain staff managed to pull off mogul/GS race from the top of Cliff's dive. It was far from ideal for anti-gate-bashing freeskiers, but nobody complained and the positive vibe held strong. Local boy James Heim nailed the fastest time of the day to win the qualifier.
Yet Mother Nature continued to tamper with conditions, forcing both final days of competition to be held on Lynx line under the chair. P-Y Leblanc smoked the competition in the semi's, only to take a roller in the finals for a third place finish. Caleb Martin from Telluride had really solid runs both days, and came home $5000 richer by winning the men's category. Local speed demon James Heim managed to bump up to 2nd place overall with his solid display of how it's done Red Mountain style. Ingrid Backstrom won the women's category, followed by Jen Ashton and Stephanie Gauvin.
The coolest part about the whole Challenge is how stoked everyone was, regardless of the lame weather and venues. The organizers did a killer job of pulling off a comp that was doomed by mother nature; local skiers were ecstatic to have all the competitors trample their hill; competitors charged hard everyday; and everyone strutted their stuff at apres and the after parties. All that combined with epic freeskiing sessions and side events like the Extreme Springboard Championships made the Molson Canadian Freeskiing Challenge a huge success overall. If Mother Nature is a little nicer next time, this could be standout competition on the schedule for sure. Check it out next year if you missed the action this season. If you did come out this year, you already know how much potential is brewing in the Molson Canadian Freeskiing Challenge.