As I approached our designated meeting place, the Second Cup Café in Whistler village, I was greeted with giant smiles from not only two, but three girls ready to rip it up for the camera. Also joining the crew was Norco rider Brook Baker. I have been fortunate to have shot with Brook in the past and know that she can ride. After the introductions and small talk finished, the girls decided they wanted to do a couple warm up runs of A-Line before we began shooting. We agreed that I would head up to the bottom half of A-Line and get setup at our first location.
I set up my flashes and took a couple of test shots as a few riders soared past, everything looked perfect. As I was standing breathing in Whistler’s fresh air and admiring the view, I was quickly aware of a rider busting higher and faster off our location’s jump with more style then anyone else who had passed so far. The rider slammed on their brakes and began to walk towards me. I was curious to find out who this person might be, possibly suggest a future photo shoot with them. As the rider approached with their huge smile I realized it was Stephanie. One after another Darcy and Brook flew out of the trees with just as much style and speed as Stephanie had previously demonstrated. I then knew this was going to be a great day.
The girls hiked up and sessioned the hit a bunch more times until we were confident we had some great shots. We then headed over to the Slopestyle course for more. Stephanie and Darcy had an idea for a shot. There is a man-made drop that leads into a small table and with the right camera angle, and the right timing of the riders, we would have been able to capture a shot with one rider airing the table while the other was taking the drop. The idea sounded cool to me, so I headed down to setup. After a few unsuccessful attempts it became apparent that Darcy’s timing was a little off. During a needed water break the truth came out; Darcy is addicted to the art of dance and had spent the whole night before getting her boogie on. The lack of sleep and dehydration was throwing her off, but honestly I couldn’t tell, she had me fooled with her confident and smooth riding. On the next attempt at the shot Stephanie blew a tube and had to descend back to the village to do the repair. We scraped the shot for another time.
Darcy and I found Brook sessioning one of the many walls Whistler has added to its impressive park, so we joined her while waiting for Stephanie to return. Brook didn’t leave any height untouched on this wall. She effortlessly shredded it as I snapped off a few shots. By this point I was in total awe over the talent these girls’ possess.
Stephanie arrived with her giant smile and fixed tire ready to rip some more. She took a few hits of the wall and even joined Darcy on a couple of duel wall-rides for the camera. After a bit we all decided it was getting pretty hot out and we were done for the day, but Stephanie really wanted to hit one more wall before we departed for food. This time though she pointed down to this mammoth sized wall near the bottom of the course.
I headed on down to get set up and really didn’t know what to expect. These girls had been killing it all day, but I thought it had to come to an end eventually. None-the-less I was there ready to capture whatever was going to unfold. Stephanie began her high speed descent down the hill setting up her line of approach to the wall. As she drew near I could see that infamous smile behind her full-face helmet. In one huge sweeping motion she aired onto the wall and sailed around the top at ridiculous speed. She then exited with silky smooth style. Everyone in the vicinity let out hoots and cheers in appreciation to what they had witnessed. I was dumbfounded. After she hit it a few more times with the same style and ease as the first we headed for the patio and food before I had to hit the road.
As I was winding down the 99 heading back to the big smoke of Vancouver, I couldn’t help but replay the riding I was fortunate to observe on that day. There is a definite evolution happening in the freeride scene and it’s not just coming from the male side of things. Rippers like Stephanie Nychka, Darcy Turenne, Kelli Sherbinin, Brook Baker, and Marcie Shatula are proving that they can throw it down with the best of them.
To be a witness to this unbelievable riding, get yourself up to Hemlock Valley Resort for the first ever Slope Sistair Freeride Invitational
taking place September 1st – 3rd, 2005.
For more information regarding the event contact:
Stephanie Nychka at firstname.lastname@example.org
See you there!
Editors note: Don't forget about Wednesday Ladies Night at Whistler.