Photos by Mitch Winton

WHISTLER, B.C. April 10, 2019 - Whistler’s World Ski & Snowboard Festival has kicked off in colourful, creative and record-breaking fashion. The doors to Swatch ART+Soul at the Whistler Conference Centre opened at noon, inviting festival-goers to wander through a maze of gallery walls adorned with the creative offerings of 67 Sea to Sky, British Columbian and Washington artists.

Event producer Ace MacKay-Smith says it’s the highest number of artists in the history of the event, which continues to be a unique and important showcase for local talent.

“A lot of this art is a little more underground than what you might see in a gallery in the village,” says MacKay-Smith. “It gives the artists a place to showcase what they do, and it’s representative of the ski and snowboard culture, and the people who live here. It really shows you how much talent there is here.”

The gallery will be open daily from 12-6 during the festival, and is free to enter. It’s also open to ticket-holders attending the evening event at the Whistler Conference Centre. Much of the featured art is for sale, with an additional art market on site selling prints.

And while the gallery opening officially kicked off the action today, the unofficial party got started the night before, in what’s sure to be remembered as a classic WSSF moment. Michael Franti welcomed Whistler to a screening of his film “Stay Human,” followed by an intimate live set. A barefoot Franti on vocals and guitar, supported by members of Spearhead who’d flown in from all corners of the globe to join him in Whistler, drew the audience to the front and the evening quickly turned into an all-out dance party.

Snotty Nose Rez Kids

The sunny vibe set the stage for the first day of the WSSF Outdoor Concert Series in Skiers Plaza at the base of Whistler Mountain. Juno-nominated Snotty Nose Rez Kids got the après party started, drawing the crowd in and getting them moving as the sun came out and skiers and riders descended from the mountain. By the time Franti and Spearhead took the stage, the plaza was packed. With the sun shining, the snow cat grooming the Big Air jump for Friday and Saturday’s contests, and 1000+ people jumping in harmony, the stage for WSSF was set.

The day’s action wrapped on a inspirational note, with stories of vulnerability, challenge, self-doubt, triumph and community at MULTIPLICITY presented by Mountain Life. The event shined the spotlight on seven storytellers, each of whom brought their adventurous tales to life with through words, photos and videos.

Up next, Thursday brings together some of the legends of skiing for the JP Memorial Quarter Pipe Shred Session in the Blackcomb Terrain Park, followed by another double-header après session at the WSSF Outdoor Concert Series, with Old Soul Rebel and Little Destroyer taking the stage. In the evening, the first of the festival’s multimedia events will light up the night, with the Pro Photographer Showdown.

Meanwhile, Friday is set to be a day for all-time. With a classic spring mix of weather in the forecast for the weekend, some of Saturday and Sunday’s events have been bumped up. Friday will see the Saudan Couloir Race Extreme go down on Blackcomb Mountain, as well as the Twisted Tea Slush Cup on Whistler. These will lead in to an epic après session, with Skratch Bastid taking to the stage ahead of the Halaw Snowboard Invitational, the first of two afternoons of Big Air action. Wrapping things up will be the Swatch 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown at the Whistler Conference Centre.

Full schedule and event details: