Ryan’s Blog: The Good, the Bad & the Après
Ski Club Leader Ryan Davison Crisp has skipped Europe to spend an entire season in Whistler. Here’s the next installment in his new series of blogs for the Ski Club.
It’s safe to say that I am now firmly settled into my Whistler experience. It feels like home already. It’s a strange feeling walking around town and bumping into people you know. It’s like being at home. If only home had 8, 171 acres of skiable awesomeness and an average annual snowfall of nearly 40 feet.
Whistler is such an amazing town. From fine-dining establishments to cheap and cheerful, it really does have it all. Seriously, you may question the ‘cheap’ part of that last statement, but it’s true. Of course, you can go and dine with a touch of class in the likes of Araxi and the Bearfoot Bistro which is great, but equally, you can go to El Furniture Warehouse (‘El Furny’ to us ‘locals’) where all main meals are $4.95. Yes, you read that right. I didn’t forget a digit. And no, the food is not terrible.
You see, just like the restaurant scene out here, variety is the key ingredient in Whistler being such a perfect town to spend an entire season. I’ve been out here since December 28th and it seems there has always been a buzz around town. There have been photography events, comedy shows, quiz nights, gigs, random street parties (I’ve no idea, so don’t ask), and last week brought the annual Winter Pride to town which certainly brightened up both the town and the slopes. There’s all sorts happening out here and much more planned it seems. Whatever tickles your fancy, you’d have to really try to go bored in this town.
Of course, whilst the luxury of having a living, breathing and thriving town on my doorstep is a bonus, I am here primarily for the skiing. And I am very happy to report that ALLTRACKS Academy are already making me one very happy customer. I’ve been training with them for four weeks now and have seen my skiing improve, my understanding of the technical side of our sport soar and my general passion and love of skiing (as impossible as it may sound to those that know me well) increase. All this goodness whilst making new friends for life and having an absolute blast.
I have been so impressed with the quality of our training. ALLTRACKS rotate the instructors each week which allows us not only to meet new instructors (and in turn, new friends), but also to develop different understandings of the principles they are helping us make second nature. After all, one particular instructor may have one way of saying something that may resonate stronger with one person in the group than another. They’re all singing from the same hymn sheet, but all with different accents.
It’s a humbling experience having your ski weaknesses laid bare in front of you. It’s an experience that I must admit to at times being frustrated with. However, it’s a necessary evil to make us technically more efficient. Turns out that each of the other five people in my group all have one thing we have had to work out. My personal ski demon was “exploding out of the turn” (to quote my first instructor) so I have had to develop patience. A great attribute and one easily evidenced when watching these CSIA Level 4 instructors ski. It is so fluid. They never look like they are doing any work. It’s inspiring. It’s an experience I highly recommend to you all.
So yeah, ‘The Good’ is very good. However, this brings me neatly to my next point; ‘The Bad’. Let’s revisit that mention of Whistler’s impressive annual snowfall shall we? Not all is well in Ullr’s garden it would seem. We are sadly powder starved. It seems that Ullr has forgotten about us here in the Pacific North-West. I am sad to say that I have only had one powder day in the five or so weeks I have been here. The locals are calling this the slowest and driest start to a season since the late-Seventies. As always, the mountains are thoroughly beautiful in this part of the world and we’ve enjoyed glorious sunny days, but we need snow. Don’t get me wrong, most things are open and in a way, training in harsher conditions is only going to make us stronger skiers. But Ullr, heed our prayers, honour our snow dances and sacrifices of old skis and send us some of that magical white gold.
Anyway, I am not one to complain too much about this different kind of Dry January so will move on to merrier things. I was tempted to call this entry ‘The Good, The Bad & The Ugly’, but I thought it potentially unkind to my new found friends. Who’d have thought the après-scene out here in Whistler would be so buzzing? Oh my days. My only real complaint about skiing in North America has always been that it just doesn’t grab the concept of après-ski. Not like the wonderful Austrians, the bar-setters in my opinion. Not like Tony Penultimate so aptly croons about (if you’re unsure about this, check out ‘Après Ski’). Well, turns out Whistler can party like the best of them. Dancing on tables? Tick. Still in ski boots at near midnight? Tick. Naked dancing in Merlin’s? Tick (ahem, this is NOT a personal tick I should add). Whistler does après. Trust me!
So folks, that’s my update from the first part of my trip. I hope you are all enjoying the ample snow us Whistlerites keep reading about, seeing pictures of and praying for each night. Make the most of it, because I am sure Ullr will be sending us record amounts very soon. We’re not jealous at all, we’ve just sadly been having more bar shots and than face shots.