Pro skiers and snowboarders from across North America will gather at Whitewater on Saturday to try out a Japanese-built snowbowl — a feature that’s likely never been built before on this continent.
The local backcountry film production company Sweetgrass Production commissioned seven Japanese snowsurfers to build the bowl at Whitewater and will be filming Saturday’s action to include in a scene in its forthcoming film Valhalla.
Sweetgrass director Nick Waggoner met the group of snowsurfers in Hokkaido, Japan, a couple years ago while he was working on a film called Signatures. He was so inspired by their work, and the unique philosophy they bring to the sport, that he’s involved them in every film he’s made since.
“They’re incredible guys who kind of look at snowboarding like it’s their calligraphy on the mountain. They see it as art and ballet, not just a sport,” Waggoner said.
The nine men building the snowbowl had never been to Nelson, or anywhere in Canada, before and were keen to build the Japanese-style bowl and bank course at the local ski resort.
The group arrived in the Kootenays last week and, after looking at the mountain, they made a three dimensional clay model of what they want to build. They started moving snow last Sunday and spent the week getting the course ready to open tomorrow.
Waggoner said a snowbowl can be ridden like a half-pipe, to catch air off the edges, or can feel more like a wave if you follow a mellow line along the walls.
“It will be cool to watch how different people interact with the feature, you can really do a lot with it,” he said.
Waggoner is encouraging everyone to come up to Whitewater and watch the pros jam on the course.
“We’ll have couches and a fire and a live DJ spinning all day,” Waggoner said.
There will also be some Japanese snowboards on display, which Waggoner described as, “the Ferrari of snowboards — you want to hang them on the wall, they’re so beautiful.”
The pros will be on the bowls at Whitewater Ski Resort all day Saturday, March 30. The feature will be open for public use the following day.
Sweetgrass’s film Valhalla will be released this fall.