Over the past two weekends, I was invited up to Whistler to take in the Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival. I had heard of the festival through friends that are avid snowboarders but had no idea that so many other things happen around the event.
The first weekend, as a guest of the fantastic Whistler/Blackcomb Media team, I got to stay in the amazing Dream House that lived up to it’s title. A fantastically appointed 5 bedroom ski in/out lodge right under the Blackcomb Gondola complete with hot tub on the deck which I spent a large amount of time in:
Shortly after arriving, we found out that the house was hosting a party with a huge list of who’s who in ski and snowboard media, gear makers and a number of world class athletes. Word quickly spread that I had my iPad with me and I gave a bunch of demos of it and had some great conversations with photographers and magazine people about the device and how it had the potential to transform their industries. I also learned a new trick that I have yet to master but I’ll keep practicing. It was a great way to get settled into my new home for the next couple of days.
One of the more interesting things (to me) that happens at the festival is a number of different photo & video contests that happen. There is a 72 hour film showdown where teams have 72 hours to make a video that is then screened and judged. There are also a couple other photo contests including the Pro Photo Showdown where some of the best ski & snow photographers compete. Unfortunately, these events happened mid week so I missed them but I’m thinking they are a great reason to come back next year and get more involved in them. Getting to meet a lot of the people competing in these competitions also made me envious of what they were doing as it seemed to be an absolutely fun way to compete, doing something they love.
The next day started off with a new experience for me: a visit to the spa!
I had already spent a fair bit of time in the house hot tub (hey, it was there and somebody had to use it) so the idea of going somewhere for more hydro therapy was very appealing. I’d never been to a spa of any kind before and apparently the Scandinave Spa was a pretty special place. It’s a huge outdoor facility with pools scattered amongst other buildings which housed different types of wet and dry saunas, including the amazing Eucalyptus steam room (the red building in the photo above) – it felt like you were inside a Halls lozenge…in a good way. Then it was suggested that you jump into the cold pool for full effect…it was actually quite exhilarating.
Being a first timer at a place like this, which is really an adult playground, I kind of felt like I was in a James Bond movie…expecting Sean Connery to come out of the steam room and then ninjas would jump out of the bushes and attack. I know that may not sound relaxing but it was still a pretty cool place to visit. We were all very mellow afterwards so clearly the spa experience is relaxing.
Next up was a visit to Sushi Village for dinner. Now I’m not a seafood eater so I was a little nervous about going for sushi but my hosts assured me they would help me navigate the choices. Worse case, I could order some chicken ‘KFC rolls’ if the fish didn’t work for me.
I figured I was already trying new things and might as well try new foods while I’m at it. I had tried sushi in the past was never compelled to try more than one or two pieces before being turned off. Thanks to everyone’s help, I eased into it and eventually found myself quite enjoying it all…It would appear that fresh & quality seafood really makes the difference. Or perhaps it was the Saki Margaritas. In any case, it was fun experience with great company.
The buildings in the village were a fantastic backdrop/screen for some awesome video projections during the opening kick off party later that night…including these retro videogame visuals:
It was pretty cool to hear the Donkey Kong theme blasting throughout the village while being projected on the side of a hotel.
Before we headed home the first weekend, we spent a fantastic afternoon sitting on a patio in the Village watching the Whistler Chef Challenge in front of Araxi:
Heading home that day was tough – the festival was just getting underway and we had to head home. But a few of us were coming back the following weekend so we had that to look forward to.
Fast forward to the following Friday, John, Rebecca & I met up again to participate in the Chevy Road Trip to WSSF along with some other media folks (Chevy is one of the sponsors of WSSF). We were loaned a brand new Chevrolet Equinox to drive up to Whistler and take in the rest of the festival (although this photo was taken at the Squamish Spit):
One thing we tried to do the previous weekend but didn’t make it before they closed was to visit the Grilled Fromage in Squamish. Rebecca had gushed about this place and I’m a big fan of grilled cheese sandwhiches so we convinced the rest of the Road Trippers to stop off and get our cheese on:
It’s a fun little diner that features over 60 different kinds of grilled cheese sandwhiches with a cheesy decor that includes a ton of cheesy things that I could spend all day browsing around the shop:
Once checked into our hotel in Whistler, we headed to the Fashion Exposed show to see the latest in ski and snowboard fashions all the while, a couple of great bands (The Zolas and We Are the City) performed in the middle of the runway.
We spent Saturday checking out the many WSSF events around the Village including getting to test drive a bunch of different vehicles including a Camaro and a few hybrid trucks which were on hand for anyone at the festival to take for a spin:
So much going on and I didn’t even set foot on the mountain where there was a whole other set of ski & snowboard events happening. As I said earlier, next year, I’ll have to plan to spend more time up there for the full festival. It was still an amazing couple of weekends in Whistler.
A huge thank you to Amber, Michelle, Tabetha & Stephanie for hosting me the first weekend and George, Janice, and Fred for hosting the second weekend.
You can view my full WSSF 2010 photoset on Flickr.