Television doesn't do these pros justice. The tricks being pulled off at Mount Washington were unreal and will be again in March 2014.
STERLING TODD KEYS/SnowSeekers
MOUNT WASHINGTON, BC — Sometimes it's hard to put into perspective what some of the pros can actually do. What you see in a movie and what you see right in front of you are two completely different things. Watching a Matchstick Productions film, you might flip your lid when you see a backside 1080, but it might only take a 360 from a local boarder off a natural kicker to garner the same reaction.
When the two merged in front of my eyes last year at Mount Washington’s Islander Lager Afterdark Invitational it blew my mind. It won't be any different this year.
Seeing these ridiculous tricks in person, I was completely in awe of these athletes. I couldn’t believe how comfortable they looked when they were 30-feet above the snow in the middle of a backside rodeo.
The Afterdark Invitational is a yearly big-air competition put on by Mount Washington where some of the best local (and provincial) snowboarders and skiers come out to throw down some of their best moves off a showtime boater. Skiers and snowboarders from all over Canada, including the island, lower mainland, Quebec, and Whistler, all compete together on the same jump for a $3,000 prize.
In the past the competitors self-policed themselves and judged their peers in what was a relaxed and free spirited competition. But they've moved away from that system and introduced a panel of judges that allowed competitors to get back to concentrating on what they do best: wowing the crowds.
The event, true to it's name, started just as soon as the sun set behind the mountains and Mount Washington was bathed in a purplish hue. Three days before the event Mount Washington was hit with another snowstorm (as it is wont to do) which added more 60 centimetres of snow. The snow was a blessing for the riders, but for the park crew, who worked tirelessly to set up for the competition, it was more of a hindrance. And boy, they did not disappoint with the showtime kicker.
The snowfall subsided just minutes after the competition started. With a DJ busting out the tracks, the competitors slowly got the feel for the speed and the size of the jump. Some started off small, opting to test it out with some 360s and 540s. Others, easily prepared after the afternoon training, went straight into the double corks and backflips, much to the delight of everyone watching. "Oohs" and "Aahs" burst up between every jump and every landing, a rhythmic symphony of shock and awe.
The spectacle was so unbelievable it was hard to tear one’s eyes away; grabbing a beverage or looking around meant you most likely missed two or three competitors. Even night skiers, with a panoramic view of the event from the Whiskey Jack chair, slowly began to congregate around the spectator area.
As the competition slowly came to a close, competitors and spectators alike gathered into Fat Teddy's Bar and Grill for a performance by Canadian artists Kings Without. And true to the snow culture, despite being a competition, the vibe was both relaxed and laid back; the few conversations had with various competitors found that it was less about the prize purse and more about the rush of performing before local fans and family.
In the end, however, there were still placements for the event and prizes to be handed out to what were some of the most ridiculous stunts performed. The boarders event was led by Myles Delange, taking first, followed by Darcy Sharpe in second, and Andrew Ottosen in third. For the skiers, Carl Fortin took first for the third year in a row, followed by Tucker Visser in second and Dane Degruter in third.
If you've never experienced a competition like this before, what are you waiting for? Check out your local mountains activity event and be sure to attend one in the near future. Believe me, you won't be disappointed. If you aren't convinced, watch the video below.
CLICK HERE for information on the March 8, 2014 Afterdark Invitational.
Planning to head to Mount Washington? Check out the Tourism Mount Washington website for more info on the options available to you.
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