According to Wikipedia, the Leisure suit achieved it’s short lived fashion zenith in the mid 70s, but as a connoisseur of kitsch I always keep one in my wardrobe for special occasions. While my brown Levis Pantela suit has seen plenty of action at parties, with its’ durable stretch polyester open weave fabric and comfortable loose cut, I figured I needed to explore it’s potential as a competitive skiing outfit.
There wasn’t much fluff to be found, but under warm sunny skies it was a fun and social Coldsmoke Powderfest at Whitewater this past weekend. Lured by the possibilty of some impressive prizes and a bit of curiosity I signed up for the King of Coldsmoke competition, in which the results from the Randonee Rally, the Backcountry Booter, and the Banked Slalom are tallied to crown a champion. Coming into the competition I knew I wasn’t going to dominate in any one event, but I figured I was pretty versatile, so could be in with a chance.
The bag-pipes playing while in the start gate were a nice touch.
It was my first Randonee Race, and I enjoyed the format, providing for a good variety of challenging ski-touring adjacent to Whitewater resort. My brother and I paced the long course at the upper end of of our regular ski-touring pace, and came in at 2hrs and 35mins, about 25 minutes off the (lycra clad) podium. If I was to race again I’d try to source some lighter gear and practice to get a lot faster at the transitions. I thought I had my skis-on skin removal technique dialed, but it all fell apart under the pressure of competition. The Leisure suit proved well suited to Randonee racing, providing excellent ventilation, allowing unrestricted movement, and ensuring extra cheers (and motivation) from the small crowd.
The Backyard Booter was a combination bootpacking/free-skiiing/slopestyle event held on the Powderkeg cliffs. It was great that the patrol had previously closed the venue, so we got to ski in a remnant section of untracked powder. Coming just after the Randonee Race the bootpacking sprint to the top was a lung buster, and I struggled to place 4th. Attempting to ski to the judging criteria I skied a fast and fluid line with a moderate drop through the main cliff band, but the judges (and the crowd) were obviously more stoked with the big hucking flippers. With a light fleece mid layer added for warmth, the Leisure suit performed flawlessly.
On the Sunday morning I completed the Poker ski-tour at a relatively relaxed pace. I got nothing in my poker hand, but I skied the event alongside Jeff and Dustin who both won Scarpa ski boots and ArcTeryx backpacks for their three aces.
The final event was the banked slalom, held on a firm (for a powder junkie like me) fast and fun course. I was stoked to complete two clean runs, and placed in the middle of the field. I was most impresssed that Whitewater outside operations manager Kirk Jensen was able to lead by example, cleaning up for the second year running. In slightly colder conditions and for less active use, the leisure suit was a bit chilly.
Due to a misplaced results sheet the final placings weren’t able to be calculated at the end of the weekend (apparently we’ll be notified by e-mail), but the reigning champ, Scott Jeffery of Nelson, was a clear standout, placing a very impressive third in each of the events. It turns out that my strongest event (with my long reach) was the swag catching on the deck, and I scored a sweet carbon probe, some nice ski socks, and a hat.
I was pleased with all my results, pretty much performing as well as I was able, and I’ll likely be back next year, with revised tactics, and the maybe even the Leisure suit.