3rd Annual Canadian Snowskate Open @ Big White

I have to say this event is what I was looking forward to most this year, as the 2nd annual Canadian Snowskate Open at Big White the year before had been my first snowskate event, and I had met so many awesome people there not to mention got super intoxicated. Only downer here is Jesse broke his shit sending a pretty heavy drop a couple weeks ago on Blackcomb and wasn't sure whether he would make the trip. He came, cane and all.

I've heard so many people say that the weather at Big White sucks, but this being my third visit in consecutive years I have to say the weather at Big White is awesome! Each time I have been there it snows a bit and then the sun comes out... Not too sure where the problem lies, but I am happy. This year we booked a slope-side hotel room in hopes of being able to stop in for food and drinks throughout the event and so we could skate outside our hotel room once the lifts closed down. Not only was the room location perfect for accessibility it just happened to be directly across from Raakels bar where things tend to get messy. 

One of the things that really makes Big White so snowskate friendly is the village location. Part of the way up the mountain sits hotels, bars and stores, plus all of the usual mountain ops and guest services you would find at any resort. At the bottom is the day skier parking lots and more condos plus a learning area. The village gondola that transports guests from the lower parking lot and learning area to the village is free, and in the evening I have been let up the lower lift that takes you to the village with no pass, so in short you can skate all around the village area and lower mountain for free via the gondola. Not bad!

Now after racing through the mountain passes at speeds that could potentially have the car impounded for "street racing" and visiting one of the many compassion clubs Kelowna has to offer, Jesse, Chris and I checked-in to the hotel, cracked open a few beers, and proceeded with a pre-skate safety meeting.  Feeling pretty safe, Chris and I grabbed a few more beers told Jesse to continue the safety meeting without us and skated down to the lift to try our luck. Sure enough, no questions asked, I even managed to fall and drop my back up beer from my pocket while loading the lift, they were just pumped to see snowskaters and let us head up. After skating around the village and lower mountain for a bit we ran out of beer and decided to head back to the hotel to restock and engage in another safety meeting.

Me and the ever present RCMP full of smiles... Snowskating is NOT a crime!

Saturday morning we woke up to breakfast and a beer with Nick and the girls who had driven up after work friday evening. After getting our skates all sorted out and finishing up a pre-skate safety meeting we headed down to the lifts to meet up with C-bass and the Biggie crew. As per the norm at any "organized" snowskate event most people were not ready, some were too hung over to make it on time, some were still trying to stuff "breakfast" into their mouths while some people had already been up shredding the early morning freshies. We got our passes figured out and decided to join the small crew that had formed at the chairlift, unfortunately not everyone was prepared for the toe-strap rule and Ben (CASSK8) headed back to the hotel to find more straps for people. The rest of us headed up to get a taste of biggie fresh, which wasn't so fresh... But it is always such an unreal feeling, that first drop in on an event weekend with a crew of snowskaters, everyone else staring and pointing as we skate by. After a few rips and meeting up with most of the rest of the skaters we headed to the park and dropped into a mellow jib line followed by either the fresh cut halfpipe or another little bit heavier jib line. Between people rushing back to their hotel rooms for beer, heading back up for one more t-bar lap, and the rest of us conducting another safety meeting, the park jam was kind of a wash. The one stand out moment for me was when Nick Varey shouts at me to follow him through a pretty decent size jump line, "no speed checks!" he says, and boom I just see him send it over a jump I normally would not have stepped to, but I followed, as I was riding out the landing I look up and see him jib the rainbow that everyone has been sizing up but so far were reluctant to step to and stomp that and ride away too! Everyone gave him a big cheer you could hear it from the lifts and the skiers/snowboarders around us... Way to go Nick Varey leading the way for everyone to balls up and hit that rainbow! (Nick also recieved a 3rd place trophy for his efforts). That evening we all met at Raakels for beers and the local metal band/burlesque show. I really wish I could remember what I heard one of the guys say it reminded him of, but lets just say it wasn't worth leaving the back of the bar to get a closer look.

Congrats to Nick Varey for his 3rd place effort in the Park Jam!

Sunday was race day, unlike last year the Neil Edgeworth was not held on the same weekend, so we had the boardercross course to race which was also super fun! The locals took the races for mens and womens and then we all dropped in together for a chinese downhill, which was epic. It was all locals standing on the podium at the end of race day, but everyone raced hard and the finish times showed it, there were even a few beginners that got their first taste of racing and impressed everyone in the process. 

A persisting head cold forced me to leave sunday with the few who had to be at work monday morning and head back to Squamish, but I was told by Jesse and Nick that the next time around I can not miss out on the Flowrider at the YMCA in Kelowna at some point during the trip.

I want to thank C-bass and Ben for putting on a great event yet again, Michelle for giving me someone to compete with in the race again, Dan for the endless beer and laughs and Cody for forcing slave labor upon his students in order to bring us trophies. It was good to see Jordan and Katie from Circuit made it out for an appearance again. Thanks to the whole Big White crew for being so hospitable and showing us a great time, and can't wait to see you all again next year! - Jon Samborski {Squampton Snowskates}

Nice stack! Squampton representing!

Most of the skaters that made it to the event posing after the trophy hand outs.

The official time sheet from race day.

The official time sheet from race day.

Nick Varey charging towards the finish line on his Squampton Snowskate

Nick Varey and Chris Lay reppin' Squampton Snowskates at the 3rd Annual Canadian Snowskate Open

Jesse Davidson and his airboot keeping the time sheet guy on the level.