Photos: Jamie Walter

It’s early in the morning and driving east through Montreal is a dull blur of dirty bricks and grey windows. The snowbanks are relaxed by last night’s thaw, dividing street from sidewalk like frozen hedgerows. Rachel Street bends as it crosses the CPR tracks, and Olympic Stadium’s arcing tower looms overhead, suddenly more imposing in the skyline. A Sunday in January, the streets are empty. Winter stretches out before the scene in four long months.

We pull into the parking lot across the street from the Olympic plaza. The morning’s haze is lifting, and the pale blue sky presses through.

Two more cars roll into the lot: Dom Laporte and Marty Boulet in one and Chris Bolduc in the other. The process is automated: we grab skis and shovels from the trunk and sling them over our shoulders. Dom and Marty pull the winch across the street, and step back to boost it over the snowbank on the far curb. First above, and then below, they shape the feature into something skiable.

Dom eyes the setup, a ledge over a 20-odd foot drop. He scrapes absently at the ice-covered concrete and confers with Marty for a minute. C-bo pulls the rip cord and the winch purrs to life. “Yo Marty,” he calls, “get my photo riding the whip”.

It’s a well-oiled sequence: Dom checks speed once, sliding the ledge and coming off the near side. He walks back to the in-run. “Alright,” he shouts “Let’s go.” It takes him five tries total to get the trick. The day before it took him maybe two more to spin out of a gapped closeout.

From the deck of the ledge all we can see is the whirl of a beige jacket and black hair as it disappears out of sight. Someone lets out a shout from below, and we rush to the edge to see Dom kick out of his bindings, triumphant.

The next spot is a quad-kink concrete ledge. After a 30-minute dig the day before, Marty and C-bo were kicked out after just a handful of hits. Dom spat, Ca m’fait chier les fucking kick-out. A day’s work interrupted by a guy in a high-vis vest and a Ford Escape.

On this day the set-up is all aesthetic. The stairs are clear from the previous build and it’s only a matter of smoothing out the edges while Marty and Chris get a feel for the ledge. Marty’s skis scrape again and again at the concrete. He switches up and falls off early, doesn’t set right and slides off his tails. Once, he comes off on the near side and there’s a flash of remembrance for the last time they hit this feature, when Marty slammed into the bright yellow hand rail.

“Hey, ça va Bullet. Vas-y.” Dom’s encouragement is gruff but brotherly. “Man, well you gotta understand like there’s no better coach for Marty than me. And there’s no better coach for me than Marty,” he explains, “I know that dude better than anyone.”

Marty gets the switch up clean, and greases the rest of the feature. C-bo gets nollie-in and is working up to a transfer from the last kink to the hand rail when the telltale hum of an engine grows, and stadium security rounds the corner. Les fucking kick-out.

The guys squeeze in a last couple hits and then we’re done. Gravel crunches under boots as we make the slow, swinging walk back to the cars. It’s agreed that the day is done. Tomorrow they’ll go check out another spot at a school up by the 40. Winter stretches out before them in four long months.