ACT EIGHTY-SEVEN:

FADE IN: A group of snowboarders huddle atop a backcountry kicker, waiting in icy winds for the out-of-sight photographer and filmer below to unfreeze their batteries, defog their lenses, pick the right angles, and get on with the session. Stationed off to the side is a journalist who’s finally found a purpose amid the photo shoot as a countdown and communication relay between the two groups. She holds a Motorola radio in her frozen, numb hands.

Crackle from the other radio atop the jump.

Lukas Huffman: Are they ready yet?

Journalist: No.

Radio silence. Distant cussing from the photographer.

Jessica Dalpiaz: We’re freezing!

Max Jenke: Ask them when they’ll be ready.

Journalist:To photographer Are you close?

Photographer:To journalist Not yet!

Journalist: Not yet.

Max Jenke: Tell him we don’t care anymore. So what if it’s the only sunny day we’ve gotten? We don’t need sunny shots for the story. Snow’s a’ight. Yo, we’re keeping it real.

Filmer:To journalist Tell them they have to wait! We’ll tell them when we’re ready!

Journalist: Just wait. I’ll tell you when they’re ready.

Devun Walsh: What? They’re ready?

Journalist: No!

Muffled screams crackle through the radio, then silence.

Brodi Dowell: Hey, Devun says he’s so cold he wants to rip Derek’s heart out. Just film if you can. He’s dropping …

Journalist:To photographer and filmer Hey, Devun’s dropping!

Brodi Dowell: Three … two … one!

Enter Devun, like a bird through the air. Switch five to stomp.

Photographer: Aaaaaaah! I wasn’t ready!

Et cetera.

Fade out.

* * *

Canada. The last bastion of all that is still punk rock about snowboarding culture-when Canada falls before the sharp sword of extreme marketing hype, all is lost.

At least that’s the impression most Canadians give off, eh? To believe in the Canadian mystique is to envision a country full of Boozy the Clowns running around partying their butts off, middle fingers extended in the general direction of the U.S.A., laughing at our 3.2 beer, our drinking age, our idiotic measuring system that sets the freezing temperature at 32 degrees instead of zero. Canada- like America, only better. Maybe I had to go find out for myself.

The mission for the trip was selfish and simple: take a good crew and travel in style through Interior B.C. in search of the great Canadian dream-on someone else’s tab. I was armed with a TransWorld American Express Corporate card, equipped with a brand-new Explorer and a Yukon (with pimp leather interior)-rentals, with full insurance coverage. The plan began and ended there.

“What’s this story about?” Pannik, our filmer, continually asked. I wasn’t sure. It definitely wasn’t about snowboarding. I learned that during our first stop at Whitewater. Fresh snow up to our necks, and we’d spent two days hitting a hip and some crazy cheese-wedge, over a snow bank, to late-tree well/creek-bed jump, the runway of which crossed an icy highway bearing trucks full of locals who were making laps down the steep, deep, out-of-bounds tree runs on the back side of the resort-laughing locals … locals laughing at us.

“If I were younger and still lived here full-time, I probably would have popped your tires,” our local guide Shandy Campos had said. I probably would have, too. We were sacrificing powder to stand around in a snowstorm and hit kickers. What a bunch of media whores.

No, snowboarding definitely wasn’t the point of this trip. Snowboarding is never the point of any magazine trip, and anyone who tries to tell you differently is a liar. If we were being honest, all travel stories would be titled “I rode my snowboard to this place, took it off and spent X hours tromping around, shaping/building/screwing up a jump, took pictures/hucked/stood around looking like a jackass (depending on your job description then rode down and called it a day.” Snowboarding is merely an excuse to make travel expenses seem legitimate.

British Colombia is massive, and we never stayed at a resort longer than two days (or in one case, two hours). As days blurred into nights, maddening nights, sitting in wet snowboard clothes, driving through darkness, always darkness, from one location to the next-the point, the story itself, ceased to matter anymore. My goal of seeing the Canadian countryside was thwarted by night travel, and the group’s goal of getting good pictures was thwarted by continual raging snowstorms-it didn’t take long for our loosely based travel plan to deteriorate into the Anti-Plan. Like that game where any person in a group can call out a rule at any time, and the rest of the group has to follow it without question-what first started as Lukas calling out that reverse was no longer a gear option on our rental cars turned into the format for determining our itinerary: our next destination, and the length of our stay there, was decided by whoever spoke up first.

Somewhere along the road, a much celebrated purchase of the made-for-DVD porno, Bobbysocks, had been made. Attached to the cup holder of the Yo-kon was a DVD player. (The Yo-kon was named after the vehicle’s permanent driver, Max “YO” Jenke-otherwise known as Max “all talk/no action” Jenke-as well as for the fluorescent “YO” letters that had been taken off a gas station sign one late night in Fernie and fastened to the grill of the car.) This tiny miracle of modern technology was used to explore and analyze the multiple angle options of the digital porn masterpiece. Even though Jessica and I have no problem with homoeroticism, or midget love, for that mater, whenever we managed to land one of the coveted Yo-kon seats, the boys always opted to play Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas for our entertainment instead. We watched the movie so much that it became the central theme of our evenings-an ideal which many of us attempted, but only Devun, Brodi, and Max came close to living up to. Actually, only Devun really did. The most impressive thing about his riding isn’t his skill, as much as it is his ability to ride hung over, having only gotten a few hours sleep-for weeks on end. Jenke tries to keep up, but he passes out too easily. And Brodi? He’s not Canadian.

The problem was the trip. In Fernie, someone had called out that we should make a detour through Calgary to go night riding at the Calgary Olympic Park-a thinly veiled excuse to get out of the snow in search of big-city nightlife. Parties were created out of thin air because we were traveling with Devun “Crazy Legs” Walsh (women drop to their knees when he walks into a room, guys fight to buy him drinks-truly a sight to behold). Unfortunately, after two days (we rode the park for an hour) of having the red carpet rolled out for us, not even the benefits of rock-star status could hide the fact that Calgary is basically a hellpit of boredom. The Canadian dream is not in Calgary. It just pretends to be. It’s not even really in Interior B.C. It’s in Vancouver-where we’d started. But we still had two stops, many days, and thousands of kilometers to go to get back there. The trip was getting in the way of the mission.

To make matters worse, when we tried to cut our travel short during our final stop in Revelstoke, the sun came out. It was the only sun we’d seen all trip, the first sun Revelstoke had seen in 60 days, and all we wanted to do was get back to the city in time to make it to some hip-hop club. We stuck it out, though, because we’re professionals; we did what it took to get the job done. We even made it back to Vancouver in time to go out. Isn’t that great? It’s a rough life.

Back safely in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, with two more days of expensed playtime to go, we ditched the photo gear and the pretense that we had anything resembling a real job to do, and got down to finding out what kind of fun Canadian kids on their home turf really have to offer.

Is there truth to the Canadian mystique, or is it all a myth perpetuated by deluded people in search of an alcoholic utopia? I’d tell you, but this is a family magazine so writing about any of the “interesting” stuff probably wouldn’t be “appropriate.” You’ll just have to go to there and find out for yourself.

 

PULL QOUTES

“If I were younger and still lived here full-time, I probably would have popped your tires,” our local guide Shandy Campos had said. I probably would have, too.

We stuck it out, though, because we’re professionals; we did what it took to get the job done.what kind of fun Canadian kids on their home turf really have to offer.

Is there truth to the Canadian mystique, or is it all a myth perpetuated by deluded people in search of an alcoholic utopia? I’d tell you, but this is a family magazine so writing about any of the “interesting” stuff probably wouldn’t be “appropriate.” You’ll just have to go to there and find out for yourself.

 

PULL QOUTES

“If I were younger and still lived here full-time, I probably would have popped your tires,” our local guide Shandy Campos had said. I probably would have, too.

We stuck it out, though, because we’re professionals; we did what it took to get the job done.