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In the Snow: A local’s perspective on Fernie Alpine Resort

Wednesday • December 14, 2011

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

“My dad was a Snowcat driver, and my mom was the first female “lifty” [lift operator] at the resort,” says Brydon.

“I put on my first pair of skis when I was two-and-a-half, and when I was a young girl, I picked rocks off the ski runs in the summer to earn my yearly Fernie lift pass.”

Today Brydon works closely with the resort through the Emily Brydon Youth Foundation, which ensures young people in the Elk Valley are exposed to sport, the arts and education.“

On an international level, I share my love of skiing — and Fernie — with the masses.”

As an ambassador for the ski and snowboard set, when asked how she encourages people of all ages to take up the sport, she says:“

There’s no bigger rush; nothing beats fresh mountain air, ripping through trees, and hanging out with friends and family. When you’re on the mountain, it’s freeing, challenging, inspiring and almost Zen-like. What’s not to love?”

Her advice for the younger crowd: forget video games.

For everyone else: you don’t have to be best to enjoy the sport, and amazing improvements to equipment over the last few years ensure skiing and boarding are more accessible than ever.

Fernie Alpine Resort is celebrating its 50th year this season, and the biggest buzz is the resort’s brand-new Polar Peak Chairlift.“

The Polar Peak Chairlift will change the face of Fernie Alpine Resort — period. I’ve witnessed Fernie’s evolution from when I was a kid, and this enhancement is a significant step forward, promising some of the most spectacular views in Canada, and a mass of new terrain for every skill set.”

“From a personal perspective, I’m excited for the new lift because, in the past, skiers were faced with a daunting trek up to the top of the peak to access powder. Not any more. The Polar Peak is just another example of why Fernie keeps getting better and better.”

The Kootenay Rockies is revered for its terrain, and Fernie, in particular, is the stuff of legend: five powder-packed bowls which encompass the largest alpine bowl network in the Canadian Rockies.

“One of the most amazing aspects of five powder-packed bowls is that each offers something a little different,” says Brydon. “Cedar Bowl is my favourite; it promises fantastic tree runs and hidden powder pockets. I can’t tell you exactly where to find these treasures as I may never be invited to ski with the locals again!”

Lone Fir and Snake Ridge are musts for the ultimate powder experience, while Falling Star, Arrow and North Ridge are ideal for fans of smooth, groomed tracks.

If you love snow, Fernie provides the white stuff in abundance.

“We tend to see some of the heaviest snowfall in the Canadian Rockies, and this year, we’re gearing up for another amazing powder season at Fernie. The Griz (a bear skin-clad mountain man that local legend has inextricably linked to the resort’s record snowfalls) is quite content with La Niña, and he’ll ensure the resort is doused in large, fluffy snowflakes throughout the winter.”

There’s bound to be a party atmosphere on the slopes this season — and plenty of opportunity to celebrate the half-century anniversary. Brydon describes some of the festivities on the roster:

Kokanee Snow Dreams, January 28 – 29, hosted by Rocswell DJ’s, is always a total blast. I love the cool après-ski scene at the legendary Griz Bar, and The Deck Party is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Legends and pioneers, plus plenty of stories, will be front-and-centre during the resort’s Ski Heritage Week, March 19 – 25.

Fernival, April 14 – 15, is sheer amazing-ness. If you’ve never experienced a slush pit, add this weekend to your must-do list this winter. I especially love that live music is blasted while competitors attempt to “glide” across the pit.

Over the years, the resort and town has racked up its fair share of accolades (Rolling Stone dubbed Fernie the “Coolest Town in North America”).

“Ours is a winning blend,” says Brydon.“

We have killer terrain, a kid-friendly resort, a historic downtown, and the friendliest locals dedicated to mountain life.”

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for the people of Fernie; this fantastic bunch of locals helped me achieve my goals. No matter where I go, I’m always connected to this Kootenay Rockies community, and that’s why I don’t hesitate to tell people that Fernie is the most amazing ski town in the world.”

For more information on Fernie visit For more information on the Emily Brydon Youth Foundation, visit

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