It’s no longer just skiers and snowboarders shredding powder on the hill at Fernie Alpine Resort.
A sport known as ski biking has started to gain popularity among the area’s snow enthusiasts, and Ross Frazier is one of a few locals who has tried it. Frazier, who can be seen cruising the slopes on a black and yellow SKIBYK, became interested in the sport after he saw a group of people doing it.
“I was just skiing down and I saw this large group skiing kind of slow, then I realized it must have been a family and some of them were on a ski bike testing it out for the first time. I’d never seen it before,” he recalled.
He had already mastered skiing and snowboarding, and was seeking a new challenge. Ski biking turned out to be exactly what he was looking for.
“I want to learn something new,” he added. “I’ve kind of reached the point of skiing, [where] getting that sort of excitement means going faster than I want to and trying to hit drops and trees and everything. It’s not worth the risk of injury in my mind.”
Ski bikes have the frame of a bicycle with skis underneath rather than wheels. They have stationary peddles that riders can rest their feet on, but no brakes, so riders stop the same way as skiers would.
It remains a fairly niche sport and there isn’t a huge community of riders in Fernie yet. Frazier said that although he’s taken a few people out with him and he’s taught some of his friends, he’s really only seen a few bikers out and about. He’s often the only biker out of the hill, so he tends to attract a lot of attention.
“You can give the people on the lift a show,” he said. “I like to make people’s chair ride up more entertaining. I like to go underneath the lift because if I wipe out big, I want people to see it and have something to talk about.”
He said he can do most runs at the hill, although particularly steep slopes give him difficulty and the t-bar is too challenging to ride. His favourite run is Arrow because of its mixed terrain.
“It has a lot of little side jumps. You can go into the trees. It has some steepness, a good mixture of everything,” he said.
Ski biking is not as hard as it looks. Frazier said the bikes are easier to take on the chairlift than a snowboard, and there’s less risk of injury because the rider isn’t attached to the bike when they fall off. Bikes also take stress off the knees, which makes it a good option for people with mobility issues, and knee and joint problems.
He enjoys it so much that he bikes more than he skis or boards and he’s looking forward to taking it out on the slopes this season.