Powder Skiing in Fernie: Ascent To Powder WATCH FULL FEATURE FILM

Powder Skiing in Fernie: Ascent To Powder WATCH FULL FEATURE FILM


I came in ’66. There were certain people I wasn’t too popular because I thought the area should be going somewhere further. Fernie has definitely changed me taught me to be a member of a community. Growing up in Fernie… wow.. that’s a pretty crazy question. Pretty much never missed school My mum would be pretty adamant about me going to school, even though it would be a pow day. We always said that Fernie’s the sixth member of the band. Skiing here has changed my life I didn’t ski before I moved here. I’ve been in Fernie so long that the locals can’t remember if I was born here or not. I do whatever I can and get by, just to be apart of this little town in the valley. I got here mid-season, nineteen seasons ago and, it was a smaller resort then so it was harder to get work especially mid-season. Heiko was shovelling snow off the roof and he fell off, broke his collar bone, and he needed somebody to help him shovel snow, and I was the random guy that came every day. and said “Hey, d’you need anybody to work today?” and that’s how I started. This foreigner comes in there and he has big ideas In ’73 I quit my job with the Crowsnest Industries to run the ski hill full time. To me, Heiko is Fernie. He was there every single day with his family in summer time taking rocks off the runs and basically building the place with his own hands. Be pretty hard pressed to have anybody in town not know. You don’t have to say ‘Socher’, you say ‘Linda’ or ‘Heiko’, and they know who you’re talking about. That amazing personality, that character that created this thing that just brought so many people here. So, I came here in the winter of ’75-76 to be a ski bum. That’s ski bum with a job, you know. I remember when I first started coming to Fernie. I was always getting myself free tickets at the Ski Hill and telling everybody I was a photographer. So I was born and raised in Fernie I never felt like I ever wanted to leave Fernie. Because, this is the place that everyone leaves to. I’d say that growing up on the mountain has opened a lot of doors for me, First person up at the resort, skiing pow, always been able to walk to the ski hill. Doesn’t matter if my parents are around. I came to Fernie fall of ’96 to put the roof on the Aquatics Centre and the first day we were supposed to work we couldn’t work because we woke up and there was a metre of snow in town. So we got up to the ski hill and we skied down, and that was my first day in Fernie. It was a pretty amazing morning to see those mountains for the first time with that much snow on them. We get these unique weather systems that come in from the coast that will track right through, and this will be one of the first real ranges that it hits. It’s dominated by skiing. You can backcountry ski, you can ski at the ski hill there’s a couple of cat skiing places It’s a really nice valley to live in. and the mountains are obviously a big part of that. Fernie’s situated in the perfect spot between the westerly flow of moisture, and the jetstream coming along the Rockies so it gets trapped here and large amounts of dumps consistantly. Works out really well for powder skiers. Fernie’s weather is really unpredictable all of the time. They call for sunshine – it snows. 100cm though, You can look out the window one minute and it’s so sunny, and the next it’s dumping. The days where the snow is coming up over your head and half of the time you’re breathing at the top of your turn so you get your head up out of the snow and you get get a breath You open your mouth while you’re down in your turn, you just get a mouth full of powder. People call it the Rockies, some people call it the East Kootenays. There’s one major range here – of mountains. It’s called the Lizard Range. Right outside my window. Something you can see everyday when you wake up is a huge ridge line with some of the best powder and trees skiing and fresh snow skiing that I’ve ever skied and I’ve travelled around the world. Fernie’s a real genuine town There’s the coal mining, the logging, the local people. When I first came here in the ’70s it was all pretty new to have skiers in town. Some of the locals, If they started chatting with you they’d ask you if you’re one of those from up the ski hill with the tight pants and that sort of thing. You know, if you wanted to get into a scrap you keep chatting with them, but, if you didn’t want to fight you say ‘see ya later guys’, and wander away. The yellow licence plates which at that time Alberta had yellow licence plates. They didn’t like those They’re tracking up their skiing, their powder snow. Sooner or later they found out that they need the skiers. It’s unbelievable how much talent there is here. Just every walk of life Just musicians, singers, and from that You start seeing people pop out, You see Shred Kelly all of a sudden just blowing up. This band started at a Jam Night at The Brickhouse on Thursday nights a few years ago. I was delivering pizza I was doing all these ski bum jobs, and then I wrote a song about it. this is called, ‘I Hate Work’. Playing in Fernie, it’s like, so epic for us because we’ll go on the road and play all these other markets across Canada but when you come home it’s always the biggest greatest crowd for us. One year we played Wapiti Music Festival and it was after we had done fifty five shows across the country all summer and, Fernie, when we had got back and played Wapiti and we played out song, ‘I Hate Work’ and at the end, It’s kinda a ski bum anthem, and at the end, everyones cheers ‘I hate work’. The entire crows was chanting that line and it was like, woah. We almost got emotional on stage we were like, this is great. All the kids are singing along We’re creating a next generation of ski bums cos, all the kids are chanting, [SINGS] #I hate work# A local author, Angie Abdul has actually said, it’s an interesting social experiment to raise a community of children on the theme, ‘I hate work’. Let’s see what happens. So check back in a few year and we’ll let you know. We all moved here from all over Canada. None of us knew each other. Coming here, we all moved here for our various outdoor loves. and met through playing music. but it was the mountain culture that brought us all here. Fernie’s famous for all the snow, and it’s pretty well known that the snow comes from the Griz. The Griz is the mountain man with the musket. Griz makes it snow. [laughs] He’s the half man, half bear, half wolf Short stout man Shoulders of six feet wide and he grew up with a family of grizzly bears in the mountains If there’s any clouds he can shoot powder Crusty old trapper with a gun that can shoot powder bearded, little trapper dude, you know. with snow shoes and mukluks. I like the idea But you know, it’s a great little mythical creature, like the sasquatch, or the unicorn. People believe it to a certain extent There has to be something special because this small little valley shouldn’t get as much snow as it does Skiing here has changed my life I didn’t ski before I moved here So I learned how to ski in Fernie So, it’s my employment My family skis here My parents started skiing They never skied before I lived out here they took ski lessons at 60 and 65 and now they come out here for three weeks every winter. Such a small town that kinda, you kinda expect to see out of something like a Christmas movie. The people that are in Fernie we have everything young people, and old people, and people from other countries and part timers, and full timers and just very dynamic, super dynamic community of just every walk of life. It’s amazing. But, the one thing that ties us together is everybody is here for the beauty, and to be active, and do something, you know. You can tell when people aren’t from here. They never say hello. It’s an ongoing thing here in Fernie. Hello, how are you doing today! Feeling good! What I really like about the Fernie atmosphere and the Fernie town itself is it’s really small community nature. And it’s right beside the ski hill. Some other place you end up driving for fifteen minutes or ten minutes from town. and here we just five minutes away. You can see it every morning. We get a lot of employees from all over the world it really seems like you have an international atmosphere just in this small community. People kinda when they move here they move here for the winter from wherever they came from then they hear how fun the summer is and then all of a sudden they’ve been here for ten years. So, everyone comes here and finds their way here their own way. and when they finally decide to stay here they want to share it and show it to others. It’s really part of the atmostphere here, is to show everyone a good time when they come to Fernie and make sure they understand how special this place really is. I think that when people from bigger cities decide to move to Fernie makes me feel really good and thankful that I actually grew up here because, I think they’re jealous and that’s the reason they move here. and I know that I had such a good childhood growing up here I think it’s amazing that parents want to come live here and raise their kids It definitely would change their lives. That’s what I think. What’s similar with all ski towns is that they all do have culture. They’ve all got passion but, What makes them all unique are the people and Fernie is definitely one of those place that has these unique people in a great place that are very passionate and because of that We do have this great culture here. It’s just manic. There was a year when I said if it snows once more we can’t run that Elk T-bar anymore, because the T’s were dragging in the snow. So we had to shovel We had no snowcats then. The packing was done by the skiers. The deepest and best snow I’ll ever ski in my life, just because it’s burnt in my memory now and I’ll never have a better day than this. You could walk through the parking lot up to your waist and not even feel the snow and it was just like, “Wow – this is amazing”. Tuesday was my deepest pow day here. There was 100cm overnight I had school that day – it was a Tuesday. The buses couldn’t actually get up here so my mum said ‘ok, you guys can go skiing’. It was unbelievable. minus 20 snows 90cm of fresh snow so all week it was just the most unbelievable deep snow of my life. and all the weekenders come flying in on Friday with their eyes this big. holding their phones against their shoulders as they’re peeing in the mens bathroom, going “err, yeah, I’d like to reschedule that appointment, that’d be great.” “yeah, could I move that meeting til Thursday, yeah that’ll be great.” You have to be prepared for deep snow and, err light snow. You have to ski back a little bit, anticipate it, skis a little further apart float, and you can make turns any way you want. Over a season I tell people if you come here for a season, you’re going to have the best skiing winter of your life. It’s like, some weeks it’s like cat-skiing every day. I can remember my favourite week ever, we got 274cm in a week. Pretty much three metres of snow in one week. It was snowing forty one day, and then sixty the next, it just covers everything. They don’t even have the chance to get it off the street. And they make what’s called the ‘centre ploughs’. You can only go one way in each direction there’s a huge plough of snow in the centre of the street. You can’t even see the cars coming the other way and you know.. there’s nothing left to do, you just have to go skiing. Do whatever I can and get by so I can stay here and get to ski one more season, or be here in the summer to go mountain biking on the trails, or hike up the mountains, the trails that Heiko made just to be part of this little.. town in the valley. I can definitely see myself spending the rest of my life here. it’s just got everything I could want and er… yeah.. It’d have to be something pretty special to tear me away from this place. Is that a wrap? [Off Camera] It’s a wrap Let’s go skiing! Are we on right now? on the.. ..movie? Is it working? Somewhere between 5 and 10cm per hour of snowfall ermm.. which is… pretty epic. That was the deepest day I remember even going to Japan, like. It was deeper here. “boop!” [laughs] Powder is forgiving, it’s happiness [laughs]

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