Words & photos by Nadia Samer
This is the event you have been training all year for. Every year on closing day Whistler locals break out their long boards and neon spandex and throw down their best tricks while riding on as much grass and rock as possible for Gaper Day. With near record breaking snowfall this season at Whistler-Blackcomb, and a huge base that just refuses to melt, things went off this year as the mountain was pillaged to the fullest extent. There was a critical lack of grass or rock skiing as we were able to ski out to Base II, thus making the motto "Death Before Download" not nearly as hardcore or challenging of a feat as in past years. Extra points are given for rappelling features, use of monoskis or snowblades, nudity, and style. That being said, there was ample display of all the above.
Jamie Bond, Gaper Day enthusiast and coordinator extraordinare. Note the helmet camera counterweighted with a beer can.
The debauchery begins on the Longhorn patio, kicking back double Crown on the rocks with legendary ski journalist Leslie Anthony. Thank god he's got a Killington map in case we get lost up there...
The team getting prepped to throw down.
The team assembled at The Longhorn to throw down taunts, bets, admire each other's outfits and garner some liquid courage in preparation for the antics to follow. Things kicked off with the stair race, and it was carnage from the get go.
Oh yes, that's a mono ski. Did he colour coordinate the ski to match the one piece or the one piece to match the ski?
Rule #1 of Gaper Day: stairs are there to be skied.
...followed by a near collision with the photographer. Eeep!
More carnage, and it's only 11am.
From here, everyone uploaded and proceeded to overwhelm the mountain en masse, swarming unsuspecting public and bystanders.
Assembling for the first lap.
Watch out for those sink holes...they're sneaky. Race skis also don't provide very good floatation.
Jordan Manley and James McSkimming decided to up the ante and brought more than enough rope to rappel large features, showing up their fellow gapers.
It wouldn't be Gaper Day without gratuitous use of rope...you never know when you're going to need it.
Rule #2 of Gaper Day, whenever possible, rappel.
Rule #3 of Gaper Day, get inverted.
Rule #4 of Gaper Day, if you're not going to invert, a spread or daffy will suffice.
Johnny Law, all business.
We were worried that the pond skim would be nonexistent this year, but luckily it seemed there was a mere 20 feet of open murky water to skim. After clearing it first attempt with my camera bag on and without incident, and watching the next 30+ riders follow suit successfully, we decided this wasn't nearly as gnarly as it should be. We were aiming for a 50/50 success rate, so we built a jump about 20 feet back from the pond, and watched the hilarity and carnage ensue. As is standard, to out gaper your peers you can either go inverted, double your girlfriend on your back, strip down naked, or hell, do all of the above at once! Back flips, front flips, single ski, monoski, tandems and trains were witnessed, with little success. There were many cold and wet participants come 5pm when things eventually wound down, at which point everyone skied out to gain an an hour or two of rest before the afterparty.
Obviously the pond skim is a lot smaller this year, so we constructed a jump to up the carnage.
James McSkimming, following Rule #3.
Jen Ashton and Magalie Roy having a hard time keeping a straight face during the antics.
Rule #5 of Gaper Day, embrace what Mother Nature gave you. Skin to win!
That has GOT to be cold...
The crowd watching from above.
Ian Cosco about to take a leak in the pond, thus upping the stakes even more.
James Heim and Danny in fine form.
This fellow is obviously having too much fun.
Soaking wet and spraffied out, it's time to go home and prep for the afterparty.
Here's to the conclusion of an amazing year at Whistler-Blackcomb!