One night at iF3 this past September, we were at a premiere for one of the major film projects debuting this year. It wasn’t very good, and after it finished, there was an awkward air about the room, like no one really wanted to say how they felt about the last 45 minutes of their life. As the credits rolled, Mr. Bishop appeared out of the crowd looking frantic and a little sweaty. He was grinning from ear to ear.
“Dude,” he said, “have you seen some of the shit they’re doing?” I looked at him blankly, and asked “did you watch that, I think it sucked.”
“No no man, fuck it, you’ve got to understand. There’s these kids – have you seen what they’re doing in the streets?” He went on: “I thought I was done, I won’t lie to you there were times I thought skiing and me were through. But have you seen this shit?”
“They went around in an RV,” Bishop said, chuckling, “out west – I think they’re called Inflict or something. It’s the future, man. Holy shit.”
Now, it’s true that Doug Bishop is excitable. He can latch onto things. Sometimes you have to ask whether it might be best to just take a deep breath before jumping to any conclusions. But this time there was something very clear about what he was describing to me: There’s a generation of kids who have grown up skiing in the streets, and they’re doing shit you didn’t think was possible. This isn’t a flash in the pan, this is happening. Watching Jarred Martin take home best crash at the iF3 awards erased any doubts I had about Bishop’s claims.
The Monday before Christmas I pulled up to a house in Whistler’s Creekside neighbourhood. A modified ON3P sticker spelled “NOPE” across the front door and inside, the guys were watching Team America in front of the wood stove. That best crash award from iF3 hangs on one wall above a Bob Marley poster, and on another there’s a framed Coors Light ad. This is Jarred’s first full season in the house.
“It’s an open door policy,” he says. “And living with your buddies is about as good as it gets. Plus $600 for rent in Whis is a steal.”
Photo: Zuzy Rocka
After spending six months in a camper, just about anywhere can feel like five-star living. “I liked it though,” says Jarred of the accommodations from last winter’s Doorstep Project. “We literally only had each other,” and while a winter on the road may have its pros and cons, he’ll be the first to admit: “it’s pretty much the best thing in the world.”
The “ski bum” lifestyle has a lot of versions; a lot of ways to define your relationship to skiing. For Jarred, the answer is simple: there’s no better feeling than opening your door each morning to find a rail or a hill or a spot right there at your doorstep.
So what, then? Does it take a special mind? Is there a secret to surviving -40 Celsius weather in northern BC, or five-day builds, or bouncing back from one of the gnarliest slams you’ve ever taken? Jarred puts it bluntly: “there’s nothing else I would’ve rather done.” He understands that with the right mindset, the world is your playground.
Part of the beauty is that it isn’t for anyone else. The thrill of skiing in the streets isn’t dollar signs or pipe doubles, or impressing some sponsor with the perfect run. It’s like this: “Before we filmed [2013’s the Darkness] I realized I don’t hate on slopestyle comps or judging per se, but I like the idea of filming and skiing for yourself, not for others.” And if people like to watch that, then fine. Just don’t expect the freedom of street skiing to cave to somebody else's demands anytime soon.
That independence is reflected in Jarred. His is a thoughtful approach; he’s got designs on life, there’s a plan forming for a career in skiing that is already starting to make waves within the industry. But it’s a process, and Jarred is the first to recognize that. It’s not the ritz, but “I make enough money to ski every day in the best place in the world,” he says, smiling. “And shit, I have fun delivering pizza anyway.”
The first time he skied an urban rail was in 2009. “We had just watched Refresh,” he explains. Like so many kids who have grown up watching urban skiing from Level 1 to Stept to 4bi9, the idea was captivating. There’s something inside you that knows you’ve got to try it.
It’s been a long time since that first rail. It’s outside South Kamloops secondary school, and not too far from Sun Peaks resort where he learned to ride. “We’ve hit that one a bunch since actually,” Jarred says “and then the 15 kink from [the Doorstep Project] is at the school too.” The same one Mack Jones and Rob Heule hit on their way through town filming Meanwhile in Canada. If you ask him what inspires him to keep coming back to the streets, he'll tell you it’s those other skiers who are out there day in and day out.
Photo: Zuzy Rocka
This winter, he’ll be in the streets once again. The Inflik crew will be at it all season, stacking shots and traveling across the province. They probably won’t go all-out and live in the RV again, but it’s parked up north and it still runs, so you never know. And Jarred will be down at Bear for War of Rails in the spring, shredding, making connections, living. In the summer it’s back up on the glacier, working full time at Camp of Champions. Day in, day out: skiing as much as possible for the sheer joy of being able to do it. On the road and in the streets you can get away from the white noise of everyday life. When you wake up everyday with your friends, and with the world at your doorstep it's hard not to sit back and smile.
Photo: Stew Medford