Last week, Monster Energy teamed up with Fernie Resort in British Columbia to put on a heart-pounding free-for-all race down some of the gnarliest terrain north of the boarder. With 26 pro athletes racing down the infamous Fernie “Headwall” for a $5,000 top prize, skiers were up against both man and mountain. — Stephen Sebestyen
From the top of Polar Peak, the highest point at Fernie, skiers can drop into both Lizard and Currie Bowl, as well as access the “Headwall” area. This area is permanently closed to the public due to tight chutes, cliffs, large boulders, and extreme avalanche hazards, so it made for the perfect starting point for a mass start downhill race. Patrollers spent the prior week assessing terrain and conditions to ensure everyone would make it down safely—or at least with minimal natural hazards.
This is no introductory ski hill. Fernie is packed with highly exposed and technical terrain, much of which is accesible by a short hike from the peak. Recent bouts of warm weather and high avalanche danger kept the patrollers on their toes.
The DJs started spinning about 10 a.m. to get people stoked for the day of competition.
Athletes spent most of the day picking lines and skiing the course to find the fastest route down the mountain. The start was relatively open, but racers were quickly funneled onto the same run down to the bottom, so hitting the holeshot was key.
As the start drew near, the skies closed and conditions got nasty. Clouds, wind, and blowing snow made the athletes rethink their approach. Visibility was limited to a few hundred feet, but that didn’t seem to bother the heli pilot. He swooped out of the clouds and landed just long enough drop off a camera crew, flash a huge grin, then take off into the abyss.
Moments before the race, athletes huddled around the top of the chair for a final brief on conditions and course changes. Skiers then went out in a random order to pick their starting point on the ridge in hopes of finding the fastest line.
The competitors ran the high-steaks course with style and udder hilarity in chase of monster moo-lah: Up to $5,000 in cheddar.
Dan Treadway sends the racers off with a shotgun blast. Simply yelling, “Go,” is so last season.
Stan Ray rails past bad conditions and 25 other racers to land the top spot on the Monster podium. But he didn’t just win money…
With the race over, the party moved inside to the Griz Bar, an après for Canadians since 1962. Photos on the wall reminded skiers that this place really is a playground for adults in both winter and summer, and a cultural hub for skiing in Canada.
The green laser light show and fresh tracks from the Monster DJ made The Griz the place to be until the wee hours of the morning. The only thing missing was glow sticks and go-go dancers.