Words & photos: Reed Purvis
Video: Mark Smith
The scene on this fine Monday morning at the base of Whistler mountain is reminiscent of Boulevard Bourbon on a Sunday in Paris, where hundreds of rollerbladers roam the streets in large groups, holding hands and crashing into things. A mob of bright colors, fluffy animals, and various snowriding contraptions storms the Village Gondola in a mad rush to get up the mountain around noon.
Chris Turpin & Ian McIntosh
Due to the fact that many people, mainly season pass holders, accidentally left their passes in their regular mountainwear, the mob pushes through all at once, thwarting any attempts by the lifties to to check passes or halt the imminent advancement of the hundred plus-deep mob. The gapers this year showed up in unprecedented numbers for the last day of winter operations at Whistler Blackcomb. Like a swarm of locusts, the gaper mob invaded different aspects of the mountain. The Sudan Couloir, the terrain park, and zig-zag were just a few of the zones overtaken by gapers throughout the day. Unlike years past, there was an unusual amount of snow still on the mountain, leaving a small surface area of rocks and grass to be skied on. However, watching a full sized bunny, a man in a fat suit, and 40 or so other gapers flock down Sudan Couloir is a rare thing...perhaps just as rare as a werewolf-like creature losing its monoboard and falling down the bottom half of the couloir.
Congregating at the watering hole was the unofficial protocol for the day as several hundred people preferred to ride across the surface of freezing cold water rather than snow. Among many a gaper were young race kids and bystanders enjoying the show as people sessioned the pond the entire afternoon.
Riding across the pond quickly became the lame thing to do and creativity took over as 180's, backflips, front flips, trains, and switch attempts received the most applause from the crowd. An Evel Knieval look alike wearing a ginormous helmet crashing on the in-run to the pond and slowly rolling in was one of the favorites. After that 'garywayne' made a spectacular appearance, buttering a three across the pond on his new custom designed skis and then falling back in upon reaching the uphill landing on the other side. Apparently there is some documentary footage of this standout maneuver that was made possible only by the unique design of the skis.
Made for riding on every kind of surface - water, snow, rock, dirt, grass, air, wind, and fire, the spoon design allows the ski to slide sideways at any angle on any surface. Quite unlike the spatula designed by McConkey, this ski not only has reverse camber but also reverse sidecut and reverse camber from side to side, making it a slight spoon shape, basically the complete opposite of a traditional ski. garywayne served as an inspiration, a role model if you will, and others soon followed with more antics.
The crowd was able to witness the true progression of snow riding, the most advanced forms of surface riding ever seen perhaps, as two people mounted to the same pair of skis launched off the jump, crashing into the freezing water. Luckily no rescue personnel were called as the gaper entourage this year included a survivalist, a white indian equipped with a survival suit. He even wore the orange suit and kept a stock of Coca Cola in order to be more prepared for any potential rescue situations including the rare case of dehydration. Apparently Coca Cola is the new quick fix after being dehydrated by drinking too much beer and being submersed in freezing water. As well, cotton and polyester have made a comeback as the best materials for battling the elements and weather conditions most prevalent in mountain climates, thanks to the extensive product research done on this glorious day. Look to next season's magazines for a glimpse at a new line of polyester ski outerwear that also doubles as underwear called "apres apres," modeled by none other than garywayne and Jonny Law.
Given the trends set in motion over the last few years, current forecasting models and the explosion of gapers this year, we are expecting gapering to reach the international spotlight and capture the attention of the rich and elite worldwide. Although, many of these elitists are already the best kind of gapers, the kind that don't actually know they are gapers. May they serve as an inspiration to us all. And can we only hope that one day the world will look to the innovative minds and think tanks in the Whistler community for fashion guidance and mountain etiquette.