Top 10 best skiing, boarding moments of 2014
1. Cody Townsend’s line of the year: The premise behind Days of My Youth (Red Bull Media House) was simple: life is short, take risks, have fun and point your skis through a tunnel of rock and get it all on the best GoPro video footage of the year. The skier was Cody Townsend, the location was a mystery peak in Alaska, and his descent has been viewed more than seven million times on YouTube.
2. GS perfection at the Sochi Olympics: The most demanding competition in ski racing is giant slalom, which requires cat-quick reflexes, an almost supernatural feel for the snow, and the perfect tension between going faster than hell and skiing in control. No one skis giant slalom like Ted Ligety of Park City Utah, and at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Ligety put in the run of a lifetime, leaving the rest of the field in the snow and securing an Olympic gold medal.
3. Les soeurs Dufour Lapointe: Really, could the Olympics possibly offer up a better story than the one/two/12 finish of a trio of impossibly attractive and athletic young women from Quebec and their gold and silver medals? The freestylers’ victories in the 2014 Sochi Games shows that freestyle skiing has truly supplanted alpine ski racing as Canada’s top snow sliding disciple — though you have to love Jan Hudec’s bronze medal in Super G, too. Bravo, Justine, Chloe, and Maxime Dufour Lapointe!
4. Mountain living and style, defined: For lovers of mountain culture, the defining moment of 2014 was Margaret Supplee Smith’s splendid book American Ski Resort Architecture, Style, Experience. Smith is a professor at Wake Forest University, who has spent most of her career studying the development and gleaning the significance of second-home architecture in the mountains. The stories and cultural analysis of some of the most iconic resorts in North America are rendered in a meaningful, entertaining way.
5. David McColm’s photography: If you looked around any of the big social media photo websites like Instagram, you’ll see that 2014 was the year of night photography — plenty of photos of the Northern Lights, the Milky Way, and jagged white mountains or frozen lakes. Whistler’s David McColm fuses technical perfection with a true artistic vision. Catch his Beyond documentary on the Whistler Blackcomb website.
6. Switchback releases Snowman: Whistler’s Mike Douglas orchestrated the Beyond Series videos for Whistler Blackcomb (and even stars in one), produced several segments of the hugely successful Salomon Freeski series, and, most importantly, literally “kickstartered” a campaign to complete Snowman, his first full-length movie that screened to rave reviews at the Whistler International Film Festival.
7. Night skiing reaches a new level: In Valhalla, the creative crew at Nelson-based Sweetgrass Productions got a bunch of skiers and riders to go nekkid in the Kootenays, which isn’t that surprising given its hippie vibe. But they topped that organic little documentary this winter when they dropped TK, an absolutely dazzling video which features — wait for it — night skiing. Sponsored by the Dutch electronics maker Phillips, Afterglow cloaks well-known skiers like Pep Fujas and Eric Hjorleifsen in specially designed lightsuits for an entirely new take on night skiing.
8. Ski with an Olympian program at Whistler Blackcomb: “Hey, meet my new friend Rob Boyd!” Wouldn’t that be the coolest thing you could say to one of your ski buddies? Whistler Blackcomb’s Ski with an Olympian program offers the chance to ski/ride with Olympic skiers and snowboarders. Skiers can choose from a day with Julia Murray, Rob Boyd, Davey Barr, Kristi Richard, Tami Bradley, Anastasia Skryabina and gold medallist Ashleigh McIvor, while snowboarders can rip it up with Mercedes Nicoll, Crispin Lipscomb, Tara Teigen, Darren Chalmers, and Mike Michalchuk.
9. The airbag arrives: Every backcountry skier needs a backpack, but most of them are pretty tight with a dollar, making the purchase of a new bag costing over $500 pretty unlikely. But what if that backpack contained an airbag that you could deploy if you were suddenly engulfed in an avalanche? Colorado-based Backcountry Access makes two Float packs in 22-litre ($529) and 32-litre ($579) capacity. Other bags with ABS, Mammut, and Black Diamond are worth considering, too.
10. Whistler’s stock price: If you were a Whistler Blackcomb shareholder in 2014, the stock was up 24 per cent over the year and paid out a five per cent dividend. Maybe ski bumming can be more profitable than banking after all.