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We Picked Mike D’s Brain About 50 Years of Whistler Blackcomb Radness

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We just finished watching Whistler Blackcomb’s 50th Anniversary film “50 Years of Going Beyond“, and we knew right away we had to track down filmmaker and freeski legend Mike D to get the behind the scenes intel on the film.

Bondo: Mike, we just watched the 50 years of Whistler Blackcomb flick. Pretty damn cool. Awesome history, well done. But there’s one major hole, and I think it’s a conspiracy. Where’s Gaper Day? The last few gaper days have been bigger than the Olympics.
Mike D: As I’ve had to say many times now, to truly reflect all that is awesome about Whistler would require a mini-series. Gaper Day will be episode 7 of season 2. Look forward to binge watching that on Netflix in 2018!

Gaper Day. The true most influential thing in Whistler’s history, as told by Doglotion.com.

Bondo: Ha, Netflix would blow up. OK apart from missing Gaper Day, you probably heard a gazillion awesome stories and characters that wouldn’t fit into a 30 minute film. How’d you crush 50 years of history into 30 minutes?
Mike D: It was tough but I tried to focus on things that not only affected Whistler, but resonated beyond our little ski town as well. Some hard decisions were made and some that not everyone will be happy with, but I knew that when I started.

Can't tell a Whistler history story without Franz Wilhelmsen. Naturally he was featured in the film. (Film screengrab)

Can’t tell a Whistler history story without Franz Wilhelmsen. Naturally he was featured in the film. (Film screengrab)

Bondo: Fair enough, and well done. Was there any standout casualties of the footage weeding that you wish could have made the final cut?
Mike D: There was one sweet shot that I wasn’t allowed to use… Steve Corbett doing a quadruple backflip off the Camel Humps in 1974. It’s so badass and I really wanted it in there, but the guy who owns the shot wouldn’t let me use it. I begged and pleaded but to no avail. Apparently he’s going to make a movie about it.

Bondo: Well if we can’t find the quad backie footage, we’ll have to watch Max Parrot’s more recent quad undrflip 1620 at Whistler Blackcomb.

Bondo:  So WB is celebrating 50 years of awesomeness, and you, the godfather of freeskiing must be turning about 47. Coincidence? Did you single handedly scheme and create the raddest ski hill on the planet, from the moment you could talk?
Mike D: Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Easy there. I’m only 45. Yes, this was all part of my master plan from day 1. Muuuuhahahahahahahaha!

A younger Mike D getting ready to show twin tips to the world.

A younger Mike D getting ready to show twin tips to the world. (Film screengrab)

Bondo: Don’t worry I’m getting old too. I was pretty sure I was responsible for everything rad that happened in Whistler, but my footprint only spans 20 of the 50 years. Yikes. Did making this film make your career feel bigger and more impactful, or shrink it into a blip on a long road of ski radness?
Mike D: It made me realize how easy we have it now. The pioneers were way harder than we are. Just driving to Whistler in the 60s was a mission. I feel pretty fortunate to have had the chance to sit down and here the stories from these guys and I’m happy they like what I put together.

Looks like the gondola line was a mission too! (Film screengrab)

Looks like the gondola line was a mission too! (Film screengrab)

Bondo: No doubt. But there were some perks back in the day… Throwing it back to the Backcomb windlip days, have I grown a lot, or has that lip gotten way the hell smaller? Is it going away? Can you flex your ski influence muscle and get an ‘environmental’ program to rebuild it? Or maybe it’ll evolve into an epic crevasse step-down?
Mike D: Climate change is a bitch! You really see how dramatic the change has been when you look back through all the photos from the 60s. On the upside, skiing on Whistler Peak is way radder now than it was back then. The ice used to fill everything up and it was way mellower.

Bondo: Ya that’s true eh? Maybe some new gnar is coming our way. Looking ahead, what’s WB going to be like in 50 years? Or rather, what’s skiing going to be like, and will Whistler still be the place to be? This is important, because I plan on being one bad-ass big mountain skier when I’m 87, so I’m already planning ahead.
Mike D: Pow days might be more rare, which will probably just make us like them more! The old-timers feel pretty good about the future because they know it’s the people that make the place, and they like what they see about the youngsters hanging out around here gaping away. I think we’ll be alright.

Matty Richard finding pow on the darkside. (Film screengrab)

Matty Richard finding pow on the darkside. (Film screengrab)

Bondo: I think so too. Well thanks for your time Mike, and for you and the team making such a kick-ass trip down memory lane and further beyond. But most importantly, we’ll give you the final word here… Whistler or Blackcomb?
Mike D: Blackcomb. I’m stuck in the 90s.

Bondo: Fewf! Right answer. 90’s forever man. Oh, and the epic slackcountry doesn’t hurt either. Well thanks again. See you up on Blackcomb in a month or so. Bring it.

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