Our visit to Fernie
Tuesday 7th April - hot 17 degrees
This morning we went to Cranbrook airport to surprise Vaughan before he flew to the States. Liana, Jackie and Naomi were all there as well to give him a surprise send off. Unfortunately they needed to bolt off quick because Liana was skivving a meeting. Sarah and I grabbed a coffee with him and sat to chat until he had to board his plane. We said our farewells before jumping into Troy and driving on to Fernie.
We arrived about lunchtime and bumped into Mike and Liz within minutes. They were both finishing up their lunch and so we took a moment to get sorted and grab some food before all heading up together to go riding. It was a suprisingly hot day and we were all thinking that our thick jackets were probably too much. The snow was going slushy but it was a considerable improvement compared to the bullet-proof conditions we had last visit. It was nice to be riding with people who had been in Fernie all season as we could be shown the jumps that were good this year and where was better at this time of year. The terrain has changed quite a bit since last season and there are loads of new jumps that we had lots of fun hitting.
The familiar Fernie terrain - this time with slush
We rode all afternoon and after a few hours of the heat we needed to ditch a layer. Mike and Liz decided to call it a day. Leaving our layers with Liz, Sarah and I headed up for a final, unburdened run before heading into the Griz for a beer. We met up with instructor Steve and a couple of the other nonstoppers from this year. We sat around in t-shirts in the sun, which obviously lead to us starting to get sunburnt. Silly English tourists.
Beer in the Griz and in the sun
We went back to the hostel to instantly be greeted by our hotelier, Frank, offering us a rum and coke. We are staying in a place not far from where we stayed last season. It was recommended to us by Liz who is also staying there. We sat with Frank for a while, drinking and chatting to Florian the German who used to live in the hostel a while back. Eventually the rum began to disappear and rather than calling it quits Frank offered us a free pizza and chicken wings. With this on order he ran off to the liquor store for more rum and a powerful drink called Yukon Jack. What a great hostel we thought and sat and enjoyed drinks in the sun with Florian and Jeremie, a guest from Quebec.
Pizza (A P pizza with: prawns, peppers, pepperoni and pineapple) and wings in the process of digestion we headed up to the comunal balcony next to Liz's room to drink some free champagne. Frank is in the process of remodelling the hostel and having accidentally woken Liz one morning during a hangover, gave her a bottle of champers to apologize. Sipping our free bubbly from plastic cups we made our plans for the evening and talked til the sun went down.
Our first stop was the Pub. Having only got a couple of slices of pizza (something about free pizza, lots of people kept appearing) we decided some more food was necessary. And so we sat eating our slightly healthier meals whilst watching Hot Dog the movie. Tomorrow is Hot Dog day in Fernie a yearly clebration where everyone on the hill dresses in retro clothing and gets drunk. It is named after the movie we were watching, a very cheesy 80's ski movie, complete with ridiculous characters in stupendous outfits.
Once the novelty of the movie wore off we started on the Jaeger Bombs. For the uninitiated that is a shot of Jaegermeister dropped into a glass of redbull and then chugged, or casually sipped if you are Sarah, who thinks the taste is too good to drink it fast. Once the bombs were dropped we hit the road to the next bar, El Dorado's. One of my favourite bars from last season has been re-named 'The Underground' due to its basement location. A shockingly unimaginative title if you ask me. Unfortunately the atmosphere has gone the same way as the name, downhill. It may be because of no longer knowing everyone in the bar or the rapid rate at which the prices have increased but after the second round of Jaeger bombs were done, we were happy to move on.
We headed on to the Central, the place where Sarah and I had first gone out together, only to find it had not only become a bar called "A bar named Sue" (Who names things in this place?) but had also closed down. So we decided to try out the Royal, that was still firmly in place and not called anything weird, however, it was shut. So with no options remaining we tried out a bar which was not there last time we were in Fernie. It is called the Bulldog, a good respectable name, and was really rather nice. We settled into our next round of bombs and it wasn't long til we were chatting with the barman, the very friendly bouncer and some of the other guests. One of whom was Jeramie, the Quebecois guy staying in our hostel. The night continued on with more drinks lots of chatting and laughter and even a game of bar mat flipping. However the fun had to come to an end sometime as we needed to get our beauty sleep ready for a brightly-coloured hot dog day tomorrow.
Wednesday 8th April - hot 17 degrees
HOT DOOOOOG!!!!!! We had been very pleased to hear that hot dog day fell the day before my retake as it didn't take much excusing to get us to go. Also having brought increadibly garish pants all the way from England I was glad to get to use them for their intended purpose. Ugliness. Having just been through two days of retro dress ups at Kimberley and a third retro day on staff day, this was becoming common place for us. However Kimberley didn't quite get the same turnout that Fernie does. We had a smattering of people in ugly outfits getting better on the second day of Spring Splash. Fernie had a sea of neon. There were only a handful of people wandering around in the throng of tight onesies looking confused and out of place in their normal gear. Everyone joins in, and the outfits are outstanding. Liz's outfit summed it up perfectly. Another hot dog day veteran, Liz had bought her outfit months in advance, but worthwhile it was. It was a bright pink, super tight onesie (so tight she had to open the pockets zippers just to squeeze in) with patches of neon green and zebra stripes all over it.
All three Hotdoggers
Sarah was not feeling the best this morning and after assuming it was a hangover I was corrected to find out that it was from too much red bull. Apparently she can't drink more than a can of red bull without feeling it the next day, something she neglected to mention prior to our four rounds of jaeger bombs. So we took the day slow and whilst we had no intention of drinking, I joined Sarah on this one as I had my retake the next day, we were more than happy to gawk at the outfits being paraded around today. Wallaby is the hot dog headquaters and we remembered that from last year. So we slid over to see an even bigger crowd than last year huddled around the recently erected kicker. The crowd was awash with colours and tight or just ridiculous outfits, and as the steadily more inebriated people crowded to watch, the braver souls threw themselves off the kick. There were some intense old skool moves being busted out, even from the skiiers and no end of crowd pleasing backflips. We were enjoying the riding though and so after watching some impressive bails after a bad kicker reshape we carried on boarding until the end of the day.
Snowboarding in our retro gear
There was something else very special about today. It was mine and Sarah's 1 year anniversary. We had gone out together for the first time one year ago today, and in Fernie so we were excited to be back here to celebrate it. We had been planning to go back to The Central, which is where we had had dinner on our first night together. However, as we had discovered last night, this was no longer an option. So instead we went for a nice walk around Fernie and then had a romantic dinner in The Curry Bowl. It was delicious food, as we had remembered, and there was plenty left to enjoy again later. We finished off the evening by buying some chocolate and watching an episode of Red Dwarf online. Who says romance is dead?
Dinner in the Currie Bowl
Thursday 9th April - sunny 14 degrees
The day after Hot Dog day was mine and Liz's level two riding retake. There were a number of people from this year's Nonstop course doing the exam and a few people retaking the exam. I was put into a group with Liz and was put with Ryan as my evaluator. Ryan is a level 4 instructor who took us during the Nonstop course and is very friendly. The day went really well and really quickly, mostly thanks to the relaxed atmosphere. We had bright sunshine and good quality snow and by the end of the day we were getting quite hot. Ryan was so laidback as well that when it came time to step up to the plate and demo my riding, I was so chilled out that I didn't freak out or over do anything. Liz felt the same way, having retaken her exam a number of times, she was suprised at how relaxed the whole thing was.
As we broke for lunch I met up with Sarah to finish off our doggy bagged dinner from The Pub and discuss how the morning had gone. I told her how nice it was feeling and that I seem to have impressed Ryan with my freestyle ability. We were only doing straight airs to practice pressure control but he appeared genuinely impressed. She had spent the morning reading some Whitelines in the coffee shop and then checking out the hill by herself. Far from being lonely she seemed to be enjoying herself alot and was happy to hear about my progress.
The afternoon of the exam went equally well and I recieved minimal feedback. I had learnt from my experience with Cam that this is a good thing, as the CASI guys only seem to tell you when your doing things wrong, so you don't get too cocky. We had a short while to kill while Ryan wrote up our evaluations and got everything ready on his end. So we headed into the daylodge for a cool drink and a chill out. But, eventually the time came to hear our results. Again I won't keep you in suspense any longer. Both Liz and I had passed no problems. Oddly my only bit of feedback was to be a little more aggressive as I was a very laidback rider, apparently I had taken Cam's suggestion to relax a little too seriously. Still I was chuffed to be done and be a full fledged level 2 instructor. And without further delay marched straight to the Griz for a beer.
A newly crowned level 2 instructor, complete with CASI badge
As we were done earlier than expected Sarah was not there yet. She had hit the new side in the afternoon and bumped into Steve and Rachel, two of this year's Nonstop crew. She rode with them for the rest of the day, hitting up lots of jumps. When she got back she was extatic to hear my news and we excitedly told each other about our afternoons. Sarah had found it particularly nice to ride with a girl who likes to jump. Also telling me about her massive air and how she got a good stalefish and a roast beef, two of the most complicated grabs we have tried.
Whilst drinking we not only bumped into Dan from Kimberley, who was riding for the day with some mates, but also made friends with another of the retakers. He was a guy called George who was doing his instructors course in Jasper and had gone on a road trip to Fernie to retake his level 2, via Whistler. Now for those of you who don't know Canadian geography very well, Jasper to Fernie is a roughly six hour drive. Whistler to Fernie is more like thirteen. So he had to go fairly out of his way to go there. He was travelling with two friends who had also been based in Jasper all season and had made the 13 hour drive (and all in one day mind you) with him. We chatted for a while and made a plan to meet up with them later that night in the pub.
The celebrations continued further when Frank at the hostel gave us beers and Yukon Jack when we got in. Unfortunately the relaxed, happy atmosphere was briefly disturbed when Sarah locked the keys in the truck. Luckily she managed to sweet talk a nice mechanic who broke in and got them out for us. Ah, the benefits of staying right next to a Dodge dealership. So after drinking, breaking and entering, and showering we headed over to the Pub for some eating. However, it wasn't long before we realised that there was also the expectation of singing. As the karaoke got started we were coaxed up on stage to do a rendition of American Pie (The Don Maclean version, not the version where Madonna lip syncs a murdered version of it).
Yukon Jack is a powerful brew
We were very happy to escape from being asked again but not all of our party was so inclined. Liz was happy to stick around and sing the night away. So the rest of us agreed to move onto the Bulldog and meet up with her later. We drunk and chatted and listened to the live band for many hours with no sign of Liz. So, not wanting to spend our evening waiting around we decided to check out the Royal again. Closed. Again. Fernie was really suffering from not having many people around at this time in the season. And so with that piece of news we agreed to call it a night and go home for bed ready to ride together the next day. This was of course the moment that Liz turned up. However, we made our excuses and headed home none the less. But now Sarah was too tired to walk. It's at this moment that peoples love of stealling shopping trolleys and abandoning them on the street came in mighty handy. So with Sarah in trolley, George, Sean and Luke hanging onto the edges and me giving the trolley a running start down the hill, we headed home.
Karaoke. Never a good idea
Friday 10th April - Still hot and sunny, about 15 degrees
We picked up the guys we met last night from their hostel just across from ours and went up the hill together. However, it was a much less fun day as so many people have turned up on holiday for the Easter weekend. Having had a relatively empty resort and perfect conditions yesterday, it was disappointing to find that there is so little space to yourself in the Lizard bowl, which makes hitting jumps a little dangerous. Still we did our best to have fun in the crowded resort, but after a while we decided to try and find a less crowded part of the mountain. We thought the park was worth a try as few people ever go in there and the weekend crowds are typically familys with kids.
Big air in Lizard bowl...you can't tell, but its big
So we stopped off in the park to try some rails and use some advice from Liz. She has become a bit of a pro in this area as she works at Milton Keynes. Due to the shortness of the slope at MK there is very little to do but jib around on the rails and it is also a very quick slope to lap. However, it was too hot to keep hiking the park and so we went down for some lunch. We headed into Kelseys for a laziness-inducing lunch before heading up with the guys in the afternoon. Apparently the lunch was too much for Liz who decided to sit in the sun before going home. We showed the guys cedar bowl and had fun and more space, as the masses were still on the front. But it was not too much longer before the sun and food got to us all and we called it a day. We dropped the guys in town and then started the drive back to Kimberley.
Big lazy air