Fernie Alpine Resort opened today for a preview weekend to the delight of skiers and snowboarders who lined up early to be first in line to ride the first Elk Chair up the ski hill.
The sun crested, illuminating the crowds’ frosty breath rising with excitement, as the countdown to the first chair of the season began. First in line were eight and six year old Joy and Amy with their dad, Paul Attalla, and Greg Barrow.
It is Barrow’s thirteenth year riding the first chair, complete with a snowboard from his Fernie shop, Edge of the World, which opened in 1999.
Originally from the U.S., Barrow attended his first buying show in Las Vegas in 1982. Jake Burton, Chuck Barfoot, Tom Sims, and Dimitrije Milovich were in the parking lot trying to sell boards out of their vans because they were not allowed in the Ski Show.
“That fired me up even more,” said Barrows. “By the mid 80’s there were about 25 Banner Elk (North Carolina) kids terrorizing the slopes and snowboarding got banned. My kids said ‘Dad, let’s be a snowboard shop…it’s the future.’ So I took their advice. After lots of meetings and begging we got snowboarding allowed back at the local ski resorts.”
Two adventurous little girls and their dad managed to join Barrow in his tradition.
“It was Joy’s idea to camp out,” said Paul Attalla. “She suggested we try to be first on the chair this year. When I told her it might be difficult because we’d have to get here really early before any one else, Joy suggested we camp out overnight,” said Paul. “I didn’t get home until 9 pm last night but Joy and Amy had their Barbie backpacks ready to go. I thought, ‘Wow, we’re really going to do this then.’”
The three arrived at midnight to set up their tent at the Elk chair and snuggled into warm sleeping bags to brave the minus 14-degree temperature.
FAR staff getting ready for opening day woke the family up at 7 am. Breakfast was a well-deserved chocolate, bagel and hot chocolate.
Joy and Amy come by their drive honestly. Their dad rowed across the Atlantic Ocean awhile back. In 2008, Paul rowed solo an epic 5,500-kilometres across the South Atlantic Ocean, in his 24-foot boat ‘Spirit of Fernie’ from the Canary Islands to Antigua, West Indies in 76 days.
Sunshine, a solid snow base, 34 groomed runs off of the Elk, Bear Express Quad, Boom chair lifts and the Haul Back t-bar made it a great way to make some early season turns, and catch some speed and vitamin D. The short loop of the cross-country Nordic trails was groomed and track set too. FAR opened early for a preview weekend Nov. 23 and 24 with its full season opening beginning next Saturday, Nov. 30.
Here’s to Ullr and whatever else will bring more snow for another winter of playing in the mountains with hopes the ski season will be as legendary as the four individuals who got it started today.