RAVES & FAVES
A Local’s Perspective
Brett Tippie leads what many would consider a charmed life. In his late 40s, he has a wife (Sarah) and two daughters (Jess, 9, and Alix, 6), has enjoyed sustained success in two sports, is revered in his community — this past spring he was voted Favourite Local Legend at the Whistler Chamber of Commerce’s annual excellence awards ceremony — and is known to colleagues as the “Director of Good Times” for his gregarious nature. While in school, Tippie was defensive captain of a two-time provincial champion football team from Kamloops, earning a reputation as a hard-hitting player — one season, he cracked three helmets. He gravitated toward snowboarding in the early 1980s, even crafting his own board out of plywood when he was 13. He came to Whistler in the late ‘80s to pursue competitive riding, enjoying 12 years on the World Cup giant slalom and snowboardcross circuits, earning the title of Canadian boardercross (as it was called then) champion in 2000. Downhill biking — particularly “freeriding,” which focuses on tricks, style and technical features — became his passion in the early 1990s. Tippie, Richie Schley and Wade Simmons were dubbed the Rocky Mountain Froriders (professional freeriders); and in 2010, the three “Godfathers of Freeride” were named to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. Tippie is one of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park’s bestknown characters and travels the world filming for popular mountain bike action films. Despite the risks, Tippie has largely managed to avoid serious injury. “I guess I’m a good crasher,” he says with a chuckle. “You’ve got to keep your wits about you when you’re crashing.”
What drew you to Whistler? Why did you decide to stay?
NAME: BRETT TIPPIE OCCUPATION: SELF-EMPLOYED — ATHLETE, MOUNTAIN BIKE HALL OF FAMER, ANNOUNCER & VIDEO HOST
Snowboarding and beautiful ladies drew me to Whistler; but mountain biking made me decide to stay. I first came here to shred deep powder in the late ‘80s when they started to allow boards up the lifts on Blackcomb. I was also mountain biking the valley trails on a fully rigid mountain bike. I bounced between Whistler and Kamloops for years and returned to train GS for the snowboarding World Cup, eventually making the first Canadian National Snowboard Team. I bugged the mountain for years to allow mountain bikes up the lifts and when they did, I was here to shred with the gang.
What’s the origin of the title “Director of Good Times”?
My wife Sarah came up with “Director of Good Times” for a title on my business card to go to the Interbike tradeshow and it stuck. I love having good times and a laugh with good people.
How did you become a member of the “Froriders”?
I had been riding steep lines mountain biking since the ‘80s and filmed for the first mountain bike freeriding films: Greg Stump’s Pulp Traction and Christian Begin’s Tao of Riding in 1995 and 1996. In 1997, I shot for Kranked by Begin and Bjørn Enga, which broke open freeriding to the world in a big way. Rocky Mountain hired Wade Simmons, Richie Schley and me to be the world’s first professional freeride team in the fall of 1997, and we had a press release ad appear in the magazines. Rocky got a legal letter from Cannondale stating they had trademarked the word “freeride” and we couldn’t call our team the “Rocky Mountain Freeriders,” so we put out an ad in the next Bike magazine introducing the “Rocky Mountain Froriders” which had us sitting on our bikes wearing gigantic Afro wigs! Controversy and humour always rule and it totally caught on! We were sent around the world to ride gnarly lines, and shoot for magazines, TV and movies. It was insane and more fun than I can say!
For what are you most thankful? Has having a family changed the way you approach your riding?
I’m most thankful for my family and friends. I met my wife at Crankworx. We had our first date riding the bike park. I proposed at the following Crankworx in front of 20,000 people and got married at Crankworx by the Roundhouse before riding down with 75 of our family and friends with tacky soil to the Garibaldi Lift Co. to party. Except for my girls being born, it was the best day of my life. I’m thankful my job has allowed me to travel the world and make friends with people from around the planet. Having a family has mellowed out some of my line-choice options. I need to be around to raise my little ones. In terms of general riding, I’ve had to become much more organized in order to facilitate and balance life’s demands, responsibilities and riding time. I’m lucky and thankful my wife is on the ball! I’m also very thankful to still be working in the industry at my age, as the longest signed professional freerider, and have cool sponsors like YT Industries and Lamborghini. I’m over the hill, but just picking up speed!
When you’re not riding or otherwise working, what are your favourite Whistler hangouts?
I am always working or riding! I enjoy dinner at Earl’s, late-night glow-in-the dark Frisbee sessions on the driving range behind the Aava hotel, and BS sessions over a slice of pizza at Fat Tony’s.
Favourite trail in the Bike Park?
My favourite trail is the next one! A-line and Dirt Merchant are fun jump trails, French Connection and Joyride are rowdy tech, Top of the World is beautiful, random Garbo (Garbanzo) gnarl is invigorating, but I love riding tacky dirt on any trail with my girls. There’s nothing better!
BRETT ANNOUNCING AT CRANKWORX WITH WINNER BRANDON SEMENUK
BRETT AND WIFE SARAH AT WHISTLER EXCELLENCE AWARDS
BRETT AND DIRECTOR BJØRN ENGA
BRETT AT WHISTLER BIKE PARK OPENING