Jay's Report - April 17, 2006

Grand Finale

Who�d a thunk it? Powder snow on the last weekend of the year? With a 320 cm base holding steady and in the middle of a snow storm, you would be forgiven for mistaking it to be mid winter on White Pass. The hill reported only about 4 cm fresh, but it appeared to be more than that on runs like 1,2,3 and even Shakey�s Acres. On Sunday, Snake Ridge was opened and was trackless with boot top powder from top to bottom. Though more of a silky, powder milk texture it was still way beyond my expectations. Corner Pocket was great, offering up smooth, trackless turns. It was the finest final weekend in my Fernie memory, as foggy as it is on these things sometimes. The conditions surely remain good enough for the hill to remain open past its scheduled closing date of Tuesday, but crowds are scant and economics likely poor, not that skiers/boarders care about that.

The last weekend of the year always brings the annual PPP - the Powder, Paddle and Pedal relay race. This year marked the 25 anniversary of the famed event. With around 48 teams entered this year from ages 10 to 58, there was reason for celebration. The PPP is a relay event with four stages � skiing, cycling, paddling and running. The Powder part of the race starts at the top of the Bear run. Skiers put their skis and poles about 50 yards uphill and are instructed to walk about 200 yards down the hill to the starting line. At the sound of the gun, contestants run up the hill, find their gear, clamp in and straight line down through the Cedar Bowl, skate and grunt out Cedar Trail and end up at the Corner Stone Lodge at the base of the hill. This all sounds easier than I�ve described, particularly the run up hill part for it was there that my 10 year old daughter disowned her father for designating her to the ski segment of the race. From there a cyclist takes off like they stole something, as Lance Armstrong might say, down the ski hill road into the town of Fernie and to the river bank located a little downstream of the bridge by Rip N Richards. Paddlers take the next leg down the Elk River to a relay point at around the FAR access road on Hwy 3, where a hand off is made to a runner for the last stage of the race - up the hill back to the Day Lodge area. Teams can have up to five members and masochists may compete solo. Our entry came in a proud second (to last). The team blamed our performance on yours truly, who, accompanied with my son, courageously insisted on the most difficult and dangerous stage of the race - the paddle. The skilled contestants/athletes will say that winning (or in our case losing) largely depends on the performance of the paddlers. And so I leave you all this year on a note of humiliation, but assure you I�ll return next year with future editions of reports from the fellowship of Craig�s Reporters.

On Pillow Talk. Clean, boot top powder was all around on the weekend.

The starting line at the 2006 PPP.

And they're off!

Hand off from skier to cyclist at the base of the hill.

Racer at the PPP, tired after the climb up and slog/traverse down through Cedar Trail.

Handoff from paddler to our Runner, obviously finding some humour at our relative position in the race.

Last hand off to runner from paddler.

Girls Team Entry, also in the top 4 in finishing.

Winning womens' teams.

Pirate team entry. Rumour has it there was mutiny.