Ode to Camp of Champions – A Summer Camp for Freeskiers and Snowboarders is forced to call it Quits

As a teenager, I remember watching films of massive tricks thrown down at the Camp of Champions. The neon green colors of Whistler Valley contrasting the white glacial snow made a vivid backdrop for so many videos & magazines. It’s sad to hear with the dramatic loss of snow on the Horstman Glacier, the Camp of Champions is closing their doors.

Camp of Champions Closes after 28 years

Whistler Camp of Champions closes summer camp snowboarding

Image taken by: Marc Richardson

When you first hear the news, you think “Whistler had an AMAZING season with over 510″ of snow! How can this be?” The issue spans farther back than this season. Low snow years (2013-2015) and climate change have sadly taken a harsh toll. The Horstman Glacier has receded dramatically where even a big, wet winter wouldn’t allow them to hold the Camp. How much has it receded? Just to give you an idea, the founder talked about the rock he used to sit on in 1989 to strap in which is now over 140 feet up the cliff wall above the Camp park. Sure, there was enough snow this year for a small terrain park. But, not nearly enough to build the size of terrain we’ve come to expect at such a prestigious summer venue.

The list of Alumni reads like the Hall of Fame for Snowboarding

The COC has always been the stuff-of-dreams. The list of campers and coaches reads like the Hall of Fame for snowboarding. With names like Shaun White, Scotty Lago, Louie Vitto, and JP Walker, the roster is impressive. If that wasn’t enough, Whistler Valley as your home base is hard to beat. With access to mountain biking on the lower half of the mountain to the infamous Whistler skatepark, the Camp & its surroundings are a power duo. This was THE Camp with the BEST coaches, summer park, vibe, pros & the most time on snow compared to any other camp! It is no wonder that this is where EVERYONE made their home base during the summer.

Freeskiers’ Roots

Whistler Camp of Champions closes summer camp snowboarding

Camp of Champions a few years ago. Image taken by: Anika (Nikabeast)

Besides being a breeding ground for snowboarders, it’s also one of the first places skiers were allowed in the park. Coaches like Kent Kreitler, Jonny Moseley, Shane McConkey, and JT Holmes pushed campers named Henrik Windstedt, Jon Olsson, Luke Van Valin, David Wise, and Tom Wallisch to the max. Together, they created a true breeding ground for the new school of freeskiing. Heck, the idea of 4Frnt Skis hatched at the Camp of Champions!

No matter what your opinion is on climate change, it’s painful to see an institution like this close its doors. Sure, you can get angry… or you can join the fight to reduce pollution and help keep our winters rockin’!

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