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Spectacular end to winter season at Smokey Mountain in Lab West

Big Land Bank Slalom committee members and some of the participants.
Big Land Bank Slalom committee members and some of the participants. - Photo by Mike Power

It was hard to believe that the big ski events to end the season at Smokey Mountain were held April 21. The snow conditions and the sun reminded most skiers of early March, when snow is at its peak, but it just so happened it still was at the end of April.

Two events were held on Saturday, April 21. The Big Land Bank Slalom was a collaboration with the group known as Snowboard Labrador. Liam Gallop is part of that group and one of the eight organizers of the event.

He told the Aurora, “we are a group of people that want to promote snowboarding, and most of us grew up here and want to keep the interest in boarding. We do a couple of events a year and we also want to promote skills development. We are, of course, working very closely with Smokey, and two of us are part of Smokey’s board of directors. Here we all work closely together, promoting not just snowboarding, but the hill, and all ski events.”

The Big Land Bank Slalom was open to alpine skiers and snowboarders. There were 42 participants, including people from Fermont, Wabush, Labrador City, Churchill Falls, and Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Ewan Bagnell hits the air.
Ewan Bagnell hits the air.

This event was a collaboration with Voltfuse, a central Newfoundland company that makes specialized headwear and apparel for snowboarding, and promotes the sport as well. Alex Henniffent, the owner of Voltfuse, says they sponsor boarders all over the world, and most their orders are online which ship all over the world.

He said they want to sell products that are based on authenticity, durability, and technicality, and want to use different products like suede and leather, to give a better quality product.

“We have sponsored a number of events at Smokey in the past couple of years, so this year we decided to visit Smokey for the event,” he said. “We usually offer items for prizes and publicity, this time we wanted to attend the event and get to know the community, (and) the pro shop at Smokey actually carries our line.”

However, what started as a group that was driving to Labrador got interrupted with a snowstorm that closed the southern Labrador highway. Henniffent then flew to Labrador West for the event.

“I was amazed at the hill, and the snow conditions for the time of the year, many boarders and skiers would die for that kind of snow any time of the year,” he told the Aurora. “It would be an ideal destination for a weekend or a week of great snow, but it seems the transportation costs are a bit of a hindrance, maybe a little creativity might find a way to make it happen, especially now that Smokey is getting new lifts and runs.”

The other observation Henniffent made was on the community of the people at Smokey.

“The executive, the employees, the volunteers the ski patrol and the skiers boarders, it’s like a big family, they all know each other, they help each other, they all care for each other, it’s a model for any hill.”

Meanwhile Henniffent plans to make it an annual trip, especially after an excellent weekend of boarding.

One other event, later on Saturday, was the annual Smokey Mountain Slush Cup. As the name implies, skiers head down the hill and land in a pool of slush. Usually slush isn’t a problem in April, but this year’s slush had to be helped along.

As the season finishes for Smokey, it’s going to be an exciting year for the next season. The Aurora will have more on that in a future edition.

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