What happens when you take “ten days of fun-filled heart pumping, activities and festivals jam-packed with adventures of all kinds” and blend liberally with “rugged cowboys & cowgirls who join hardcore snow riders to enthral stylish spectators in a quintessentially Canadian celebration of winter sport & spirit”? You get Skijor Canada X Banff SnowDays, a symbiotic relationship that yields stunning results!
It’s not everyday you get the opportunity as a photographer to capture horses galloping down main street, launching skiers and snow boarders over jumps. In fact, in my eight plus years of doing professional event photography this has only happened… errrr… NEVER. The last 300 or so events I photographed usually involved a stage, keynote speaker and maybe a Taekwondo or K-pop performance when things got really wild.
Skijor was a photographer’s dream to document. When you have majestic horses, masterful riders and extreme sliders ripping down main street sunlit and sporting wacky and wonderful winter fashion against the epic snow covered rockies that surround Banff it’s hard to go wrong.
Setting the Course
At 6pm the Banff Ave was blocked off to traffic and the Skijor & Banff teams got to work. A major challenge was getting snow. It sounds crazy right?!?! Here we were surrounded by heaps of the white stuff in the Rocky Mountains yet we weren’t allowed to touch any of it. Parks Canada sees to it that nature is not disturbed so over 20 dump trucks of snow were hauled in from an hour outside the park. The crew worked until 1:30am assembling jumps and hand shovelling snow from the edges of the road to ensure there was an eight inch base to ride on.
Jumps are shaped, marked and tested. Riders and sliders gear up. Sam holds a final safety briefing in the firehall parking lot.
I adore portraiture so I couldn’t resist setting up a few shots to capture Skijor Style. What I love about these shots is that if I didn’t say anything you’d probably never guess that the the epic peak our models are standing on is in fact just a pile of snow in a parking lot.
The Big Event. Yeehaw X Gnarly!!!
From start to finish it was a flawless event packed with some major air, incredible horsemanship and great people. Thanks to Skijor Canada, Banff SnowDays, everyone on the team who made this a successful event, and of course, my fellow photographers: Billie Jean Duff @ Roughstock Studio, Danny James @ Danny James Hagan Photography & Marisa @ Rockin A Photography.