Part II: BD athlete Johnny Collinson reports on spring skiing and traveling
Black Diamond athlete Johnny Collinson had a busy spring, jam-packed with non-stop travel, film and photo shoots, competitions and deep powder skiing. Below is Part II of a report Johnny sent us on his spring travels. To check out Part I of Johnny's trip, click HERE.
That unknown end of season trip popped up just as I was hoping, and it turned into one of the best, most fulfilling trips I've ever had. While watching The North Face Master of Snowboarding event at the Bird, my North Face team manager hit me with the invite to cruise up to Whistler (again) to spend some time filming with the Sherpas and watch TNF riders Tom Wallisch, Benji Farrow and Mike Riddle hit the famous Whistler-sunset-mega booter. Of course I was down. So, after purchasing a snowmobile, I packed up the truck again and headed north, to more unknown. After arriving and meeting homeboy TNF snowboarder Ross Baker, we proceeded to wreak havoc upon the quaint village in western Canada.
I became a Sherpa for the Sherpas as they shot a superpipe commercial, and once that was over, Ross and I jumped on our sleds and cruised out to shred the glaciers. Putting two 20 year olds on snowmobiles without supervision on miles of untouched, windscoured, feature filled terrain proved to be a lot of footage. Most of it applicable to send in to Americas Funniest Home Videos. Nothing much better than the freedom to do what you want when you want, and have the right gear to do it. Cinco de Mayo rolled through, and after somehow surviving that, a spot opened on a commercial shoot, joining Ross and the Sherpas for a few days in the heli to promote new product. Are you kidding me?
I got asked to fill in for Sage to go early-May heli skiing. Fuck yea. So far the trip had far surpassed any expectation. Spines that were still filled in begged to be skied, so we obliged and did what we could. After the heli time we had a day in a full-on sound studio in downtown Vancouver. More bad ideas, throw Ross and I in a booth and see what happens. Not sure I've ever laughed so hard. But no worries, we have a hip-hop album dropping soon so keep your eyes peeled. Finishing up our business, Tom and the park crew rolled in and we went to check out the infamous jump. This table is something I've only seen in movies and dreamed about hitting. Once seeing the sculpture, and fighting through the Asians that were posing in front of it, I was stunned. With the middle cut out, you could easily have fit a three lane road through the middle. 115 ft to the sweet spot was the word. Damn was my word. Most thoughts and fantasies I had of hitting it drifted off with the dissipating cloud layer. The days rolled by, waiting for weather to improve, and the whole time I was unsure my destiny, to hit it or not.
The first day of filming on it happened, and it was quite a production. Its not quite as simple as rolling up, hitting record on an iPhone and watching the big boys get air. You have to get last load on the lift, wait hours for the incredible park crew to groom the thing to perfection, wait for the sun to get low enough in the sky, then wait for the heli to arrive. We had a solid "lounge crew" sprawled on the rocks as Benji and Tom got fired up and started sessioning. Watching those guys in person hit a feature like that was amazing, how precise and perfect every hit is, making gymnasts jealous. After both of them had thrown triples, they called me down, said sack the fuck up and hit this thing. Dry mouth and all I buckled up and sent the floatiest jump Id ever hit. I was ecstatic. All three of us were raving about how perfect it was, not too much kick, just the perfect amount. The heli fired up and the Sherpas yelled down for me to get out of the way and let the boys do their thing. Damn. Session was over for me. Once we had all gone down in the dark, I just laid in bed, thinking about the feeling of being in the air that long, and how smooth it was.
The next day, same routine, wait wait wait. But day two, Mike Riddle, pipe skier extraordinaire had arrived, so when it was go time, all four of us were cleared to session. Im sure it was a pretty funny sight, me standing at the top of the in-run, claiming big mountain as my thing, 182 Zealots as my weapon of choice for park. One more straight air, and the heli fired up. I was nervous as hell, do I hit it? what would I even do? Could I stomp a trick? Standing up there with that crew was perfect. They couldn't have put me in a better head space, been more encouraging or stoked. It was perfect. So, I dropped in, the lip filled my whole vision, and floated a double back to my feet. Heart racing I was ready for more. Cork 7 to my feet, cork 9 with an ass check, then things went a little south. Tried to lay out a double a bit too long, straight to the face. That shit hurts. This made me stop for a second to grab some water and food.
Then, as the sun started to glow a deep red, I figured one more wouldn't hurt. But it did. Another double quite a bit deeper again to the face. I exploded, busted my goggles, helmet, fully yard-saled and bloody faced, I ended up in the bottom of the landing, pretty shook up. But, nonetheless I was exploding with happiness. I had just sessioned the biggest jump I'd ever hit, and the first real park jump in about two years with some of the baddest dudes in the game. Even got a couple sick shots. Perfect end of season trip. From partying to sledding to heli to jumping I felt like it was a successful and complete trip. Thanks to The North Face, Sherpas Cinemas, Backcountry.com and Black Diamond for the support on it! Such a good feeling. Now I think its time for some sunshine, climbing and summer! Yahooooo!!!!