Powder and all the good things that come with it will be celebrated at Whitewater this weekend.

Powder and all the good things that come with it will be celebrated at Whitewater this weekend.

A celebration of powder in Nelson

Kootenay Coldsmoke Powderfest returns to Whitewater ski resort with three days of clinics

Kootenay Coldsmoke Powderfest returns to Whitewater ski resort with three days of clinics, competitions and social events beginning today.

Now in its seventh year, the festival is a chance to improve your downhill skills with more than a dozen local and visiting mountain legends lending their skills to teach a broad range of clinics.

“We really try to have something for everyone — all ages, all ability levels — skiers, snowboarders and telemarkers,” explained Whitewater GM Anne Pigeon.

Some of the highlights include Nelson local and former pro-snowboarder Kendra Starr offering all-day, intermediate snowboarding clinics; ski mountaineer Greg Hill leading trips into the backcountry; and the Rippin Chix offering advanced ski development clinics for women (don’t worry, guys, there’s also a men’s only freeskiing clinic). You can also learn the basics or advanced technique for telemark skiing and freeskiing throughout the weekend.

Besides the clinics, there’s also a handful of competitions running throughout the weekend (see sidebar for descriptions) to see how your existing skills measure up.

“We have a lot of serious athletes come in from out of town for the races, and some of them are pretty amazing,” Pigeon said.

Awards for all the competitions, including naming the Coldsmoke King and Queen who collected the most points after competing in all four events, are handed out at the end of the day on Sunday.

Off the hill, there will be a Coldsmoke village set up around the lodge, with demo tents and a campfire to enjoy. There’s also a BBQ and movie night on Friday at Mary Hall at Selkirk College’s Tenth Street Campus beginning 6 p.m. On Saturday evening there’s an Apres Ski party and buffet dinner in the lodge at Whitewater from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

“Nothing goes too late because we know everyone wants to save their energy for skiing and clinicing in the morning,” Pigeon said.

Tickets for the socials, clinics and competitions can be purchased online at coldsmokepowderfest.com, as well as at Whitewater’s downtown office and the customer service desk at the hill. Space is limited for all events.


Event highlights

ROAM Randonnee Rally

Saturday, February 23 at 9 a.m.

Ski mountaineering race up and down the Silver King side of the mountain — no chairlifts allowed. Competitors on the long course will climb more than 4,000 vertical feet over six or seven kilometres (the exact route will depend on avalanche conditions), while the recreational course goes up 2,800 feet over 3.5 kilometres.

This event is a qualifying race for the Canadian Ski Mountaineering team and attracts touring pros from across Western Canada.


Valhalla Pure Powderkeg Slopestyle

Saturday, February 23 at 11 a.m.

Skiers and snowboarders of all ages will be launching off the natural features in the Powder Keg bowl. Judges will be looking for the sickest, smoothest runs of the day. Each competitor will do two runs.


Poker Run

Sunday, February 24 at 10 a.m.

Starting at the top of Summit chair two-person teams will tour along a set route picking up five playing cards along the way. At the end of the route, there’s a slalom course to race through for a chance to win an extra wildcard. The skiers with the best hand at the end of the event win.


Backcountry Olympics

Sunday, February 24 at 1 p.m.

Teams of three will race partway up the Silver King side and locate a buried avalanche beacon, then build a toboggan (with supplies they carried up with them) and pull one of their teammates down the hill and across the finish line.


King and Queen of Coldsmoke

Competitors who enter all four events described above will have a chance to be crowed king and queen of Coldsmoke. The male and female competitor with the best combined score across all events will take the titles.