Once upon a time, late spring in a ski town was a time of tumbleweeds, lost gloves appearing beneath the chairlift as the snow melted, and frustrated golfers waiting for the greens to dry, all overseen by a skeleton crew of burned-out lifties.
Then, someone discovered that sun and slush were just one element away from a killer spring fling trifecta. Live music was the solution.
With a soundtrack, all you had to do was throw in some silly shenanigans – gaper days, dummy downhills, pond skimming contests – and you had a reason to wear headbands, fluoro and jeans, and dig out the straight skis from the garage (ironically or in earnest – anything goes in the spring time).
It’s the time of year that après was invented for…. Patio sessions follow park sessions. Hipsters raid tinkle trunks. Seasonaires sport loud and proud goggle tans.
Whistler’s signature end-of-season blow-out, the World Ski and Snowboard Festival, has been the highwater mark for almost two decades, urging all and sundry to gather under the banner of Partying in April, with the promise that you can Sleep in May.
A more universal rallying cry that serves all with an equal appreciation of the sporty, the spa-lover or the sun-soaker, calls to the disciples of Vitamin D (and here in Canada, after 6 months of winter, we’re all deficient in that respect): “I’m outdoorsy, in that I like getting drunk on patios.”
First, some tactical tips on mastering the art of après ski in the springtime.
- Unless you’re still on the hill, change out of ski boots. Boots Off is the sign that you have entered Après. And anyway, warm feet shouldn’t be clad in plastic. It’s a recipe for raunchiness (not of the sexy kind…).
(Caveat: it is difficult to truly to declare yourself the “winner” of après if you’re not dancing on the speakers in your ski boots to close down the bar – as Whistler’s GM of Bars, Mike Varrin will attest – so you have to balance out the risk of foot rot with your personal commitment to “winning” the party, on that front.)
2. Always wear dark glasses. (Sun-safe and suitable for discrete sideways glances – your shades are the most important fashion decision you will make in the springtime.)
3. Don’t mistake the garnish in your drink for a meal substitute. (Staying power is in the snacking. The infamous Caesar’s at Whistler’s GLC come loaded with pickled beans AND bacon, but we still recommend additional food.)
4. If everyone else is singing, join in. (We go back to the third element of spring’s winning combination.)
5. And finally, know your geography. Every patio has its purpose. And every ski town in Western BC has its own way of celebrating…
Here are the highlights of the Out With a Bang, Not a Whimper events taking place across the West.
March 30: Fernie Alpine Resort – The Cardboard Derby – more fun than recycling empty cardboard boxes, watch the locals get creative with sleds built from cardboard. No points for speed – what counts is craftsmanship and steering accuracy.
Mar 30-31: Silver Star – 8th annual Showdown Throwdown Hoedown – a fully sanctioned event featuring athletes from the BC Freestyle Association and the BC Snowboard Association at the Rockstar Terrain Park. Great music, awesome giveaways, hot food and cold beer.
April 6-7: Kimberly Alpine Resort – Spring Splash and Ultimate Dummy Downhill – live music from Good Ol’ Goats and Shred Kelly, a Splash Zone, kids’ fishing pond, Snow Volleyball Tournament, BBQ and Dummy Lauching off the test jump.
April 6-7: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort – Sun Splash Funk Fest – live funk music from Rah Rah and Two Hours Traffic and a chance to dig out the retro ski school wear, followed by the Slush Cup, where skiers and riders attempt to skim across a pond full of frosty slush.
April 14: Big White Ski Resort – Dummy Downhill. Close the season with crash test dummy carnage at the Mega Snowcoaster Tube Park. (Note: explosives are prohibited. The fact that this is specifically mentioned, we take as a good sign…)
April 12-21: Whistler Blackcomb – World Ski and Snowboard Festival. The original spring fiesta on steroids – daily concerts with headliners hiphop artist Nas, K-OS, Swollen Members, the Arkells, plus iconic arts showcases like the 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown and the Pro Photographer Showdown, balancing out the on-hill action of the World Snowboard Tour sanctioned Shred Show and the Big Air.
Looking for other ways to après in the Springtime? Here are some additional great ideas to get you started. What are YOUR favorite ways to après in Spring? Share them in the comments below!