Whistler is a village where seasonality is everything. Winter is ubiquitous with skiing and snowboarding, and summer translates to hiking and mountain biking. The change in seasons means a drastic shift in daily life and a whole new crowd setting up shop. Being such a big event in itself, it seems only fitting to have an inaugural celebration to mark the change. Although only in its second year, Whistler’s GO (Great Outdoor) Fest has quickly become the village’s way of celebrating winter and looking forward to summer.
As a local Whistler-ite, I was as excited as anyone to take part in the festivities. The events kicked off on Friday morning, with a pancake breakfast put on by the Whistler Public Library. Excited chatter filled the air as friends and families discussed enthusiastic plans for the upcoming weekend. For me, it was just what I needed to get me fueled up for my stand up paddleboarding demo.
I’d been SUP-ing before a few years ago and was absolutely blown away by the beauty of my demo on Nita Lake (figuratively speaking of course, I can promise you I didn’t fall off)! Balancing on the calm lake waters wasn’t too difficult and the paddling technique is fairly straightforward and similar to canoeing.
From there, I was off to the Jump Jam, one of the official stops in the Freeride Mountain Bike Association World Tour. While I’m personally a bit of wimp when it comes to bike park tricks, these athletes showed no fear in this fierce competition.
I, along with the rest of the crowd at Millennium Place, also enjoyed hearing the festival’s keynote speaker, Tamo Campos, discuss the effect of climate change on such a weather-reliant community like Whistler. Working with the grassroots collective Beyond Boarding, it was inspiring to hear how Tamo has created a beautiful unity of passion for outdoor sports and environmental activism to have a positive shift in the world.
The most highly anticipated event of the weekend though was the Great Snow Earth Water Race. Comparable to a decathlon, the race consists of six stages of signature Whistler recreation. Teams start with downhill skiing or snowboarding to mid mountain, then switch gears to downhill bike the rest of the mountain, complete a run through the village, canoe the river of Golden Dreams and finally cross-country bike their way to the finish line. In my opinion, the race encompasses the very essence of Whistler and is such a cornerstone to GO Fest, as there is no other time of year in any other location where such an event could take place.
As a whole, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Victoria Day weekend and I am more excited than ever for another great summer here in Whistler.
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