Oh, Canada… Preparation no match for ‘cruel’ Mother Nature

'Mother nature is cruel,' says Simon Stubbs, official the BC Winter Games' freestyle ski events at Hemlock Resort near Mission...

by Jessica Peters

Black Press

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You can train the athletes, prepare the runs, and iron out every wrinkle prior to a ski event. But you can never, ever predict the weather. Not a ski hill.

“Mother Nature is cruel,” said Simon Stubbs, head official for the freestyle events at the BC Winter Games this weekend.

At Hemlock, Mother Nature was definitely ill-tempered.

But, it didn’t stop the BC Freestyle Association from running their two events Friday and Saturday.

“It’s hard when you have such bad weather,” Stubbs said, but the pre-planning that went into the weekend helped the team deal with the snow that fell throughout the last week.

“Hemlock’s park crew and grooming crew have done a tremendous job,” Stubbs said.

It takes a lot of work to prepare the hills prior to a big event like the BC Winter Games. It’s not uncommon for events to be cancelled, and that was the case for alpine skiers on Saturday. The giant slalom was ended midway through the second run for the ladies, due to dangerous conditions. Heavy snowfall at Hemlock last week meant the weekend started off with soft slopes. As snow fell over Friday night and into Saturday, the conditions were changing too quickly.

“It’s dangerous for the kids because the courses get rutted,” Stubbs said. “We put salt on the slopestyle track, but we started training with one set of conditions and by the time we got to the competition, the course had changed.”

Still, with a roster of only about 50 skiers, they decided to push through.

“Usually when you fire the starting gun, you try to finish,” he said.

Stubbs is the head of the Mt. Washington Freestyle Club in Comox. He was attending the BC Winter Games as a head official and a Provincial Sport representative, and was kept busy throughout the weekend. He also had the chance to work alongside his son, Peter Stubbs, a 19-year-old ski coach, who is also one of the senior judges in the province.

Stubbs said they decided to go down to two events, moguls and slopestyle, to ensure the kids had a good Games experience.

“Running two quality events was really important to BC Freestyle,” he said. “We felt the kids would have more fun if we just ran the two.”

That meant no ‘big air’ competition, and a day of free skiing on Sunday instead.

Overall, Stubbs is impressed with how the event played out, and gave nod to those who set up the course prior to the Games.

People like Jason Smith, who built the course, and Evan Phillips, the technical delegate who ensures the runs’ safety, are part of the behind the scenes work that make the Games happen.

“They’re instrumental in making this event a success for the kid,” he said.