By Tyler Daku
Over the recent long weekend (in Canada) I had the chance to do a little spring snowboarding. This was the second time I have been lucky enough to spend the third weekend in May on the snow, and it didn’t disappoint.
Getting up nice and early for another Canadian institution Tim Horton’s coffee had us on the road by shortly after 7am. Coffee was a must, as the 887 km (552 mi) drive to our hotel was a long one to say the least.
Not that I am complaining, the transition from the Canadian Prairies to the foothills and then the Rockies is one of the most beautiful drives you can ever make. If you haven’t had the chance to do it, I suggest making up any excuse you can as western Canada offers things few other places in the World can compete with.
And so it was, we were making our way across hundreds of kilometres of Canadian landscape, and the Ke$ha blasting on the stereo was doing it’s job to keep me awake in the early stages. After we hit the Alberta boarder, things got fun as we got to roll through Medicine Hat and some of the cheapest gas any where. Another quick stop in Calgary to see my buddy Pete Andersen who’s works can be seen at PUSH.CA and we made our way into Banff National Park, shortly after dinner time. A solid start to the trip was capped off with Pabst Blue Ribbon and tacos followed shortly by passing out with my hat on.
Day 2 again saw us up bright an early this time the focus was on riding, not the Chevy Cobalt, but our snowboards. A quick phone call on the way up the hill to Doug with Sunshine Village Resort and we were ready to ride, with enough cash in pocket for an insane cheese burger and some Gatorade apres ski. Our first day riding was one for the books, with fresh rain in the village there was no shortage of fresh snow all over the hill. We were making our way through May powder in the trees and having a blast jumping rocks and shrubs on the groomers. With the effects of the drive still lingering in my calf muscles, Day 2 ended and we went back to recuperate before a gnarly steak dinner and some Jack on the rocks. Again, I slept with my hat on!
Day 3 was met with toasted bagels, and the smell of our neighbour’s fireplace coating our suite. So we made our way back up to Sunshine as fast as we could, and thanks to stupid amounts of early morning caffeine we were all over the Wawa lift like Ryan Sheckler and the mainstream media. The sun was playing games with the snow conditions, but a simple duck under the ropes had us with a face full of powder Tony Montana style! Riding, hiking and more cheese burgers had us ready for the town, so we decided to head into Banff, and some of the Rockies’ best shops “Rude Boys” “Unlimited” and “Showcase Snowboards” We had a pretty gnar experience at what appeared to be a soap store, and we were again ready to call it a night. The hat finally made it off my head for bed-time.
Sunday brought Day 3 of riding and by far my favourite day of the trip. After falling asleep to “Almost Famous” the night before I knew this one would be all-time. We woke up to sunny-ish skies and warmer-ish weather, so the hoodies went on, and up the hill we went one last time. We used the Wawa lift again, more times then the guys at West 49 use the word “bro”.
A quick break to apply a little rub-on wax, while being serenaded to the soothing sounds of “New Moon” and guests and we were back at it. We again hit up the knee deep tree lines and exposed rocks lining “Birdcage” and “Tin Can Alley”. Day 3 was one of the most soulful experiences I have ever had on my board. With Trouble Andrew pumping in my brain and fresh lines where ever you looked, I have never felt something quite like this. My bunk knee was burning and the 3-day long caffeine buzz was wearing off, but it didn’t matter when I was slipping down the face of Mt. Standish. I really feel like that is what action sports are all about. Their ability to take the everyday worries and problems we all have and make them disappear, if only for a moment. We bumped into some flatland buddies at the gondola and enjoyed the ride down, as we discussed the pros and cons of “ItchiKraft” a delightful little dish consisting of Ichiban noodles and Kraft Dinner.
Night 3 was supposed to hold some heavy drinking with the Burton crew and some water-sliding at the hotel, but you can probably guess what happened. The Laker game was on, so I wasn’t too bothered by it. Asleep by 10 with the drive home on my mind and the trip was drawing to a close.
If I have one regret about the “Slush Cup” weekend, it is that our schedule couldn’t work in the actual festivities that went on Monday. The hill puts on a show with contests, music, booze and good times that I am sad to say we missed. In the same breathe, if that is my biggest worry it was a good weekend. We woke up Monday morning to a much mellower and subdued Banff, which was kind of cool. We rocked some Starbucks and headed home. And the story of my long weekend came to a end.
If you have the opportunity to give Sunshine Village a shot at any time during the season I highly suggest it. If you are blessed enough to make the journey during the spring then you are in for a treat. I am really thankful we got the chance to experience some of the best riding, food and people the Rockies has to offer. I want to take a second to say thank you to some people who helped make it happen. Doug Firby at Sunshine Village, you gave us the chance to really take in some World-class shredding. Pete Andersen at Red Bull Canada, thanks for keeping us awake the whole time! Drew McOuat with Ogio, all my stuff made it back in one piece so thanks to you as well. And my girlfriend Kayla for putting up with my constantly talking about this post.
For more information on skiing and staying in the Banff National Park, please check out their website
When he is not in the shop, on the road as a sales rep or scouring the Internet for content on his blog streetjesus.net. Tyler Daku is most likely getting wet behind a buddy’s boat, racking out on a jib somewhere or cruising the streets on a bamboo fishtail.