BD athlete Johnny Collinson reports on his Canadian ski travels and the Freeride World Tour stop in Revelstoke
Black Diamond athlete Johnny Collinson is a busy guy this time of the year: comps, filming, skiing, skiing, and skiing… basically living the sweet life of a professional skier. He’s spent a large chunk of the winter up in Canada and sent us the following report from the Freeride World Tour stop in Revelstoke.
The trip to Canada started as any does. A 2AM departure from Salt Lake, excitement mounting as the "Revelstoke, BC" dot grew closer and closer to me on my iPhone's screen. But, the over 1,000-mile journey always has one snag... The border. Waiting in line my palms were sweaty, and I glanced in my rearview mirror to check my image. Shit. Eyes were blood red from staring at the road for over 13 hours, music blaring into my ears. But, my worries were short lived. No search, minimal questions, it was perfect. The rest of the drive I spent dwelling on what this comp would be like. Revelstoke was the beginning of a new era of big mountain competitions. The American Freeskiing World Tour and European Freeride World Tour combined to create a unified Swatch Freeride World Tour presented by The North Face. They brought the top 13 skiers from each tour, then a few wild cards to create a field of the 30 best big mountain competitors to tour the world this season.
I was stoked to see everyone again after the summer, especially as everyone that came was buzzing with excitement. Visual inspection only meant that we could use photos to find a line, or peer at the venue through binoculars. With thick BC clouds enveloping the Mac Daddy face, we all spent our six weather days enjoying fresh pow... A little something everyone loves.
Finally the comp day came. An early start up the gondola brought us up above the valley fog, where for the first time it was clear. Helicopters were buzzing everywhere, event staff were busy setting up in the below-zero temps, and all the athletes could be seen with binoculars on their face, scoping lines one last time. I was right there with them, nervously looking at landings and take offs to cliffs, trying to asses how the snow would change if people skied there before me.
Before I knew it I was hiking the ridgeline. Headed up to the start. The viewing ridge was steadily gaining people, cheering everytime a competitor dropped onto the face. With time to spare up top, I pulled a risky move. My toes were frozen inside my boots, so I pulled them off and warmed them in the sun. After 5 minutes the starter came over to inform me I was in the gate. I started to put my boots back on, but the plastic was totally stiff. Two other guys trying to help me did nothing. I couldn't stop screaming at myself for being so stupid. It was going to be hard to ski without my damn boots on. Luckily, after popping them into walk mode (thank god they had it) I could buckle in. Just in time too, I heard " judges ready"… "live show ready". I nodded my head, and "Johnny Collinson, dropping in three, two, one". Boom. I was off.
Navigating the snow and face seemed so difficult. I just kept thinking, make it look easy. But it didn't feel like I was doing that. I found my line no problem, and as I set up for my final air, my brain cleared out, no nervousness, just enjoyment for what I was doing: Skiing. The three was so big it felt like I hit terminal velocity, air whooshing up through my skis, then the abrupt landing. Back check. Fuckin a. Need to stomp those clean for this judging panel. And that was it. Tired turns to the finish wrapped it up. An excited Drew Tabke greeted me at the finish, congratulating my run, and saying his went well (turns out he won). And I ended up 11th. That's just how judged sports go. I don't think I could have skied what I did any better, but I only had one air, and did back check. Oh well. Now I have a full month to stay in BC with Sherpas Cinema to film for their new movie "Into the Mind". Look for another update on how the filming goes!