- Arts & Entertainment
- Health & Lifestyle
- Bits & Bytes
- Events calendar
Powder, Pedal, Paddle
photo by V.Croome, the 2012 winners of the PPP paddling their way to victory
I often comment on the calibre of athletes in this town. They are passionate, dedicated and hardcore. One Fernie sporting event that showcases our athletes’ talents and friendly competitive nature is the Powder, Pedal, Paddle or better known as the PPP.
Held annually in April, the PPP is composed of actually four sports: skiing, biking, paddling and running. Teams of four or five compete in a relay format or individuals perform all of the legs as a soloist. Each leg is a gruelling challenge, let alone taking on them all. The ski involves a run uphill in ski boots, clicking in and racing down through Cedar Bowl to a long tuck-out, which can be a pretty challenging skate ski without the right wax. The first transition area sees the skier pass his or her numbered bauble to the biker, (or getting out of ski boots and into bike shoes). Next up is pedaling through the Timberline subdivision, down the crazy Ski Hill Road and along the highway until just past the bridge into town. The bikers then have to navigate the Elk River bank and find their paddlers. One or two people navigate a canoe or kayak back down the river to the take out at the bottom of the Ski Hill Road. This longest leg can prove to be even longer in low water or rowdier and wetter in high water. The last leg consists of a two mile run up the Ski Hill Road through the Timberline subdivision and across the finish line. The fastest teams generally finish in just over an hour and if you are super hardcore like Fernie resident and physiotherapist Bob Maudie you can solo the whole thing yourself in just over an hour and ten minutes and place third amongst the entire competition!
Part of the allure of winning the PPP likely has something to do with the stellar prizes awarded. The winning men or ladies teams alternate winning a free day of catskiing at Island Lake Lodge. Bragging rights also heavily influences the competitive nature, and for some teams the thrill of drinking beer out of the PPP cup makes the bleeding lung all worth it.
The PPP dates back to 1984 and sees anywhere from 40-60+ teams (around 150-300 individuals) competing. Many of the teams have been together for years and others look to stack their team with ringers, especially on years catskiing is up for grabs. Other prizes are awarded for categories such as Best Dressed and Best Team Name which keeps it fun and the dinner and after party are always a good time. Recent years have even seen Griz Bar table sliding performed by the band…but that is a sport on its own.
This year’s event is Saturday April 7 and seeing as April is the green edition of the Fernie Fix I recommend taking a page from local Darren Hatina’s notebook and racing the PPP the recycled way. Darren once took his old skis, one speed antique townie, tire tube and hypothermic self around the PPP course. While he may have not shattered any course records he proved you don’t need a national team athlete’s downhill skis or a double sea kayak to have a good time, although those may come in handy if you ever want to win a free day of catskiing.
Remember the type of friends you pick to do this event with may dictate your level of competitiveness. I have learned that aiming for Best Dressed or Best Team Name is a better goal for me than dreaming of that pow day at Island Lake Lodge.
Last month’s column featured Canada’s hugely successful and talented Ski Cross team. Since the article’s publication they have been hit with tremendous tragedy due to the death of team member Nik Zoricic while racing in a World Cup event in Switzerland. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, teammates and friends. R.I.P Nik.