Nik Dunn

With each year, I become more worried about Fernie’s young people and their ability to stay or move back to the valley after school. It was thus inspiring to meet up with Nik Dunn and learn how he made it happen through pursuing his passions and working hard.   

While I knew Nik’s parents, Colleen and Thomas, it wasn’t until I went on a bike ride with a group of friends that I met Nik. The crew was shuttling the Morrissey trails, but I was training so would climb up the road between each lap. I remember Nik and his buddy Nakoda thinking I was crazy. They were just teenagers at the time, and I remember thinking they were crazy! Especially on the last lap – Dopamine. I volunteered to drive down for that one. 

What really shone in these two was their kindness. They still exude this quality today. 

After that, I didn’t see too much of Nik but here and there I would hear about his achievements on the bike, on the trails and more recently, at Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR). 

Nik’s childhood in Fernie was, “pretty awesome. It’s the reason I’m still here,” he tells me. “It’s especially awesome if you like being outside all of the time!” He started mountain biking at the age of ten and it quickly became an obsession. 

“I am so grateful that my parents signed us up for a kids’ camp at the ski hill. 

My brother and I got to learn how to ride mountain bikes, and the cheap babysitting backfired as it turned into a really expensive hobby,” Nik laughs, but immediately adds that his parents were extremely supportive of him from the beginning.  

As his skills advanced, Nik was keen to bike as much as possible. His mom had a policy that he was not allowed to bike by himself, so he would wait at the bottom of Ridgemont Road by the Bike Park and  ask if he could tag along with groups passing by. 

Nik started testing his skills in local events, including the Thursday Night Race Series at FAR and it was clear he had talent. From there he was able to attract some sponsorship and race at sanctioned events, such as Crankworx, BC Cup, Canada Cup, and the UCI World Cup! 

“Our family moved to the coast for a bit in 2013 as my parents wanted a change of scenery. I finished Grade 12 out there, and then went to college in Victoria but my focus was really on racing. I had a great time, travelling and riding my bike all over the place… such amazing experiences.” 

Unfortunately, he suffered a bad knee injury which caused him to miss a season, and he felt it was time to transition. 

“I was looking to try something else and got into photography for a little bit, but then decided it was time to move back to Fernie. Initially, I came for the summer to build trails at the ski hill and would go back to work at a ski shop in the winter. But then I took some avi courses and was like, this is a job? I didn’t realize it was a career path, or an industry! So, I stayed and started ski patrolling at the hill in winter.”
For the last four years, Nik has been a member of the Trail Crew and Ski Patrol at FAR and it is very clear that he is very proud to work with this group of people. 

“I love the team I work with. Everyone is really smart and really good at everything and it’s pretty impressive to be around. They are so highly involved, and I couldn’t imagine being with a different group of people. It keeps me coming back. Of course, I love powder skiing as much as the next guy but it’s the people that drives me to stay,” he shares. 

With such an extensive background in trail building, from building trails at FAR to remote contract work on the coast, it comes to no surprise that Nik is shifting gears in becoming the new Trail Supervisor for the Fernie Trails Alliance. 

“It will be fun to build trails and to watch people enjoy your work. My role is hands on, developing trail and maintenance work plans, being in the field, and guiding the volunteer nights. There are four of 
us on the Trail Crew, which is a pretty small team, but I have a lot of experience and am looking forward to working on efficiencies,” Nik says, adding that he is also looking forward to giving back to his community. “I owe it to the trails to do a bunch of good work!” 

We chat about some of the areas he wants to focus on and some of his ‘dream’ projects, and I can’t help but get excited. Nik has the perfect mix of trail riding and building experience, creativity and passion to make a noticeable impact on our trail network. 

Moving away from remote work and being positioned year-round in Fernie is something Nik is extremely excited for. It will allow him to spend time in his new home with his dog, and also to become a bigger part of the community. 

Thank you, Nik. For showing us what’s possible. We’re stoked to have you back in the valley and look forward to seeing you out on the trails!

1. When did you first arrive in Fernie and what brought you here?
1996, and my parents’ love. 

2. Who do you remember first meeting?
Nakoda Mason and Ryan Reedyk for sure. We’ve been friends for a long time. 

3. Do you remember your first general impression of Fernie?
I mean, it’s just home. 

4. What keeps you here?
The people. And my mortgage. 

5. Do you have a favourite pastime?
Biking or skiing. The best part about seasonal work is I’m always excited for the next season. 

6. What time of the year do you love most and why?
Fall is the best. It’s so pretty, and it’s not blistering hot. The trails are tacky, riding the yellow brick road in the park. 

7. Where do you see or hope to see Fernie in five years?
I kind of like the trajectory we’re on right now. Growing up here, I remember a lot of vacant buildings on main street, limited food options. It wasn’t as energetic. Maybe that’s because I was a child… the Wednesday Socials are so fun, and the small businesses, art galleries and coffee shops… it’s awesome. I hope that continues to grow and give Fernie it’s really welcoming character. 

8. How do you start your day or what is one of your daily rituals?
Really nice coffee. I’m a bit of a coffee snob. 

9. Tell us something people might be surprised to learn about you.
I talked like Yoda for two years of my life. I was super into Star Wars, I would bring my life sabers to school and stuff. 

10. Quote to live by: You got to go to know.

Davis Clement Photo