If ever there was an indication of community vitality, it was seeing hundreds of people lined up to the street on Saturday for the Fernie Ski and Board Film Fest at the Fernie Community Centre. The festival, which is a fundraiser for the volunteer Canadian Ski Patrol – Rocky Mountain Zone, is said to be the beginning of ski and snowboard season. As if on cue, much needed snow fell over the Elk Valley on Sunday. The event was a time to emit mountain culture vibes, rekindle old acquaintances, make new friends, and get psyched for another epic Fernie winter.
Riley Wilcox, President of the Rocky Mountain Zone, was happy for another festival.
“The funds go towards covering the cost of equipment and training,” she said. “Volunteer patrollers certify every year with a 70 hour first aid exam, as well as their CPR, HCP, then we provide an on-snow education program, and we bridge that with the Pro Patrol Program at Fernie Alpine Resort. So we work hand-in-hand with the Pro Patrol Team and the volunteer team to provide mountain safety for our guests.”
Wilcox said that Fernie is about to get very busy with the onset of ski and snowboard season.
“Right now you are looking at a base population that has grown from approximately 4500 to 5500 people. In the winter, our busiest day on the mountain is about 7000. So if you know 7000 people are on the mountain, how many people are in town? The whole community comes alive, and this is the kick-off to our winter events.”
Wilcox said with a smile, “My favourite thing to do when I ride the mountain on a big powder day is usually hit up Sunnyside right away because it’s the first thing open, and then get all the way out to Diamondback Ridge, I love to explore that, and of course by then hopefully Snake Ridge is open and we can get some amazing powder turns on the steep and deep.”
Greg ‘G-Money’ Barrow, owner of Edge of The World snowboard shop in Fernie, was a sponsor of the event. “I came here in 1999 and opened up Edge of The World, and have been involved in this community since then,” he said. “I’m a sponsor because it raises funds that are needed, and Dan and I are good buddies. I’ve been sponsoring this for quite a while. The money goes to the ski patrol. It’s a good cause.”
Barrow, an active snowboarder, described why he loves Fernie.
“Powder days, of course,” he explained. “I just really love the terrain. Before I moved here I went everywhere in North America to see where I wanted to live, and where I wanted to open a business. The first thing that impressed me were the people in this town, and how laid-back this town was, and then the hill. It was incredible. The shoots and the bowls. It’s just a natural terrain park up there. I really like it.”
The Canadian Ski Patrol – Rock Mountain Zone, can be contacted at: Riley.Wilcox@skipatrol.ca