Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Before I get started, I would like to make a statement that might get me hated on, but so be it. East coast skiing has nothing on the West coast. Nothing. Think what you'd like, but it took me a season ski bummin at Red Mountain in Rossland, BC to figure this out and get me hooked on what skiing is all about…powder.
With that being said, I still always look forward to going back to my home mountain, Mont Tremblant.
Why is that you might ask? Because it has the two things Red Mountain did not have, but that every East coast resort should aim to provide; a killer park and a crazy party scene. What makes Tremblant so great is the wide variety of features ranging from size, difficulty and creativity which are spread out between their public and private parks and offer a little something for anyone, whether you're taking your first lap or are a seasoned vet. The banger park staff is on top of their game, ensuring that everything is well maintained and are always switching up features to keep it fresh for those who call Tremblant home. What makes their fleet of rails, boxes and jibs so great is how well they put each and every one to use by creating extremely unique features which keep the park fun but challenging at the same time. A trip to Tremblant is not complete until you've had a wild night at the Caribou and snagged yourself a beautiful (and often freaky) French chick. But if that's not your style you can easily find some natural herbs and similar products to make your night of relaxation that much better.
Unfortunately I have been unlucky enough to ski at Jay Peak a few times over the years, and feel like it is my duty to let everyone know that you should stay away. It's overpriced, overcrowded (with gapers!), there's barely any good tree skiing, and it is always super icy and windy (even when they “claim” it's dumping). So ya, stay away from Jay Peak please ;) - Jason Mousseau
Red Mountain, BC
In the irony of all ironies, shortly after I made the move out East to Montreal, (as he just mentioned) Jason and I pulled a lil switcharoo as he moved out West to my home hill, Red Mountain in Rossland, BC.
After spending the entire winter traveling all over the globe, from Maine to Japan to Colorado to Europe and seemingly everywhere in between, Red is still my favorite place in the world to ski. Like that lil hottie Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz once said, ‘there’s no place like home,’ a statement that couldn’t be more true for me when it comes to the beautiful and sleepy little mountain town that is Rossland.
My parents put me on the slopes of Red at the tender age of two (only recently did I begrudgingly discover they used a harness though), and from there on out it’s been pretty much go time for me, namely due to Red’s wide variety of gnarly terrain, which spreads out a full 360 degrees from the summit (something I’ve still yet to see elsewhere). From steep, rocky chutes that are tighter than a nun’s ass, to endless powder fields and meadows peppered with mini-golf lines, to the crown jewel of Red, and what it’s most famous for…the steepest and tightest in-bounds tree skiing on the continent (even Seth once asked me what was up with all the tight trees), Red is like a smorgasbord of sickness for anyone who loves to shred. And although it lacks the look and feel of a major resort (which is another reason why I and many others love it so dearly), with a newly improved beginner/intermediate area at the base and the laid-back ski town feel and picturesque atmosphere of Rossland nearby, it’s wonderful place to bring your friends or family.
Top all that off with the multitude of shredders that have come out of the area (James Heim, Dane Tudor, Mike Hopkins) and others that are about to blow up (Colston Beatson, Alex Berg, Jeff Amantea and others (check them out in Stepdown Productions new flick at http://www.stepdownproductions.com/08movie.mov), and Red is undoubtedly one of the best places one could hope to grow up skiing at, and the most alluring of places to return to…which I do as often as I possibly can. - Jeff Schmuck
Mount Antoine, Ontario
My home mountain is the now defunct Mount Antoine near Mattawa, Ontario. Most people will recognize my hometown as where Highway 17 does a sharp 90 degree turn over a train bridge. If you don't turn, you end up on the town's quaint main street wondering where the hell you are. If you keep driving 15 more minutes, you end up at the hill.
Mount Antoine was where I learned to ski, and almost where I stopped. The hill was small, only about 700 vertical feet, with one peak and two chairs that disembarked at the same place. I skied there for a few years and tried several clubs like racing, but I found myself growing bored. That was until I met a few like-minded people who I noticed were always tearing down the hill, hitting anything that could pass as a jump, and generally pissing off ski patrol by going out of bounds.
I was still a kid, and one day I got up the nerve to introduce myself. We chatted for a bit on the lift then hit the slopes. Skiing was never so much fun. This was my first introduction to what is now known as freeriding. I began to notice all the little features of the terrain and think about different ways to have fun on them. I couldn't get enough.
I eventually moved away to go to college, and the next year Mount Antoin shut down. It had struggled through several bad winters and I guess the owners decided to cut their losses. I was deeply saddened to hear of their closure, and it certainly made visiting the folks on holidays longer since there were no other hills in the area.
To this day I wonder how my kleptomanic habit of taking trail signs impacted their bottom line. At least I still have them, and they remind me of the first hill I ever skied. - Paul Stanisci
Mount St Louis Moonstone
This was a tough one for me. For the first time since I started skiing, the 07/08 season was the only time I didn't ski one day in the East. Coming up with a legit "Home Mountain" therefore wasn't an automatic task as it has been in years past. Avila's been my home of late, and for pure number of days Whistler definitely wins, but the aforementioned lack of East coast days, and the amount of times I got lost on Blackcomb this year take care of those options.
Turning the clock back however, the place that I called home for most of my ski life has been a two-hour drive up Highway 400, north of Toronto: Mount St Louis Moonstone. This place has a wacky history that saw it's inception in the 60's (known then only as Mount St Louis), and a constant evolution ever since.
Probably the strangest thing that continues to happen even to this day, is the gradual up-hill expansion of the "mountain" every few years. Yep, the Huter family, owners since day one, raised their elevation for the first time in 1979, using 600,000 cubic metres of dirt to up their vertical rise to a whopping 500 feet. That's right, it was smaller than that before. In '84 they bought the neighboring hill, Moonstone, and combined the two into one resort, and eventually brought the peak of Moonstone up to 500 feet to match the Mt St Louis side using another 500,000 cubic metres of dirt. Strange yes, but MSLM as it's known, has always been first out of the gate with Ontario's first Cat Grooming Machines (1981), Ontario's first Quad chair (1983), and a snowmaking system dating all the way back to 1966.
For myself, my brother and my riding buddies though, the first we were stoked on happened many years later with the first quality terrain park in the region. A fully dug-out halfpipe allowed for the longest operating pipe season in the province and two parks were created: Moonstone housed the pipe and the higher-level Outback Terrain Park, while the Mt St Louis side of things catered to learning with the Junk Yard.
Riding MSLM was always fun and relaxed compared some of the other resorts in the region where being a skier in the park often subjected you to snowballs or cat calls from the lift. Granted, this was the early years of twin-tips (if you were lucky enough to get a pair) so I'm sure some of it was warranted, but I never had an incident with staff or other riders here. In fact it was quite the opposite, I met my first NS members (fkxpro, ductapeboy, mikehunt, etc.), and have had some of my most fun days ever skiing there, rocking my Rossi Pow'Airs, learning how not to land backwards, and not having to carry a camera on my back. The family atmosphere of the resort also helped draw my Dad (allowing us a ride up to the hill), and kept annoying race and mogul coaches yelling at their kids all day long far, far away.
To this day, MSLM still expands upwards, their latest push a modest 10 metre rise in 2006 to make way for, wait for it, their third six-person chairlift, and more importantly for us, they continue to lead the way in park quality in the region. The Outback now boasts a full slopestyle area and the pipe has been moved to it's own run, giving Ontario it's best and most consistent superpipe. So while MSLM doesn't compare to Whistler, or even Avila these days, it was the best we had at the time and we certainly did our best to make the most of it.
The above photo is by Jeff King (aka fkxpro). Jeff and I first met way back in the day ('00 or '01, perhaps even earlier) and got to shred some epic weekdays while he was in school and I was playing hooky from work. Jeff has shot the Triple Challenge for us as well as the inline article with Chris Haffey and Brian Shima from Mammoth in 2006. This is one of the only days a camera was out at MSLM, which was great because it let us ski even more.... not that it paid off in ski skills, I still owe most of my days on the hill to the camera on my back. - Chris O'Connell
Blue Mountain, Ontario
My home is and always will be Blue Mountain. I mean growing up it was all about racing, which kind of sucked but I did it for like 14 years anyways. My parents had a super sick place up at the top of the mountain though, which made zero sense to go anywhere else, racing or not.
However, I remember the moment that it all changed for me…the day I skied by the terrain park to sadly stare at the snowboarders having fun and noticed that the “No skiers in the park” signs had been taken down. This was the day my life changed…
Blue’s park Badlands is basically in my mind one of the best setups you could ask for in a terrain park. It’s short, tight and open, with a private double chairlift running only the length of the park. That badlands chair formed more tight friendships than I ever have in my life! It’s the sickest because you can ride the chair, talk to someone, but always feel like part of the crew. You can see the whole park from anywhere on the chair, and can always see who’s progressing and who’s hanging around.
It was even better when I worked there…since I was living at my Dad’s place at the top of the mountain I could wake up like 15 minutes before my shift started and literally ski to the top of the park where I worked. End of the day, take a chairlift home. I mean come on! It really felt like I had this terrain park in my backyard, where instead of ghetto pvc, wood, nails and shovels we had steel, welders, cranes and snowcats! My buddy Jake and I basically got to make all the decisions and build that place however we wanted it. I mean imagine just skiing right out your front door down to the top of a park that you’d built? Some asked me why I didn’t move out West, but why would I with that setup?
My buddies were always hanging around, and we had the sickest times ever. instead of going out to bars we’d just bring cases of beer onto the hill and go tobogganing at night and play around in the snow. Damn, I think I’m getting a tear in my eye for the old days of the snowsnsakes…fuck I miss you guys!
Some people complain that the park is small, but the way we used to build it we stuffed like fucking 29 or more rails in such a small space. Do that and cram a jump line in there, and you’ve got this wicked skate park-style terrain park with laps that are no more than three to four minutes. So sure, you’re only sessioning one rail and three jumps, but you can get 20 laps in before lunch. Plus you’re still fired up from your last run so learning new tricks is a breeze.
I could go on for hours about how amazing that time in my life was…but sadly I don’t get back there as much as I used to! Gotta move on I guess, but there will always be a special place in my heart for the magical 400 vertical feet that is Badlands.
Snowsnakes WHAT! - Doug Bishop