Oliver Berger and Morgan Day, a Williams Lake duo known as Shred the Nar who skied/snowboarded all of B.C.’s ski hills last year, are well on their way to achieving a similar feat — this year, in Alberta.
Despite the lack of snowfall this winter in Western Canada, coupled with warm temperatures, the pair has so far managed to ride 22 ski areas and has visited a total of 28 ski areas altogether.
“The ski areas we didn’t ride at were either closed permanently for years, temporarily for now, or like the one in Whitecourt, will just be opening for the first time next year,” Day said from Bluebird, a 1977 Chevrolet van Day and Berger have been travelling and staying in.
“It’s been quite the contrast from last year’s travels so far — both due to low snow packs that stretch across all of Western Canada, but also because of the diversity we have encountered at the hills so far.”
The majority of the ski areas in Alberta are small operations. Berger said just one ski hill they’ve been to so far, Marmot Basin in Jasper, has had a larger vertical drop, rideable acreage and more snow than Mt. Timothy Ski Area.
“But don’t let the small stature of the ski areas in Alberta fool you. They’re packed with diverse and creative terrain and amazing support from the communities surrounding them that it’s hard to put into words,” Berger said. “Albertans come to ride, even if it takes them two to three hours to get there.”
One thing that’s stood out to the pair is the support many of the smaller ski area outfits receive from local regional districts and municipalities, which back operations financially.
“They recognize the importance of winter recreation in their communities and are doing everything they possibly can to keep these operations running for kids, families and the general public to enjoy,” Day said, pointing to Little Smoky Ski Area, just north of Valleyview which runs at a financial loss every year, however, receives funding through three regional districts surrounding the hill.
“More importantly for Oliver and I, it has been an eye opener to see the unbelievable [volunteer] support and help many small ski areas are receiving year in and year out. From general managers, guest services, rentals and kitchen staff down to liftees, people from all these communities are putting in hundreds to thousands of volunteer hours to keep these hills going, purely for the love of the sport.”
During the process Day, 28, and Berger, 33, have been filming and documenting their journey through a series of Youtube videos and keeping followers up to date on their Facebook page (Shred the Nar).
Now, just five hills remain to tackle of the 33 they’d set out to conquer: Canada Olympic Park in Calgary and Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, Nakiska and Norquay, all near Banff.
“It has been an incredible journey so far and we are stoked no one has been seriously hurt and that we can keep on shredding,” Day said.