Revelstoke (1) vs. Mount Washington (8)
I know it’s only been two years, but it’s hard to believe that Revelstoke hasn’t taken home a Throwdown championship yet. With the largest vertical drop in North America, snow measured in meters instead of feet (Wait, Canada’s on the metric system? My bad.), and more killer film segments than actual people, Revelstoke has the ingredients to make a pretty delicious Throwdown sundae. But watch out for upstart Mount Washington, which did a backyard boogie and made the tournament by winning the GWN play-in round. Going into the twilight hours of voting, the two are nearly dead-even in votes. Is there an upset in the making?
Nelson (4) vs. Girdwood (5)
When the patent office awarded Wheaties “Breakfast of Champions,” it had clearly never been to Nelson, where an Oso Negro cup o’joe and Whitewater breakfast poutine can turn even the most haggard après casualty into an on-slope stud in seven minutes flat. But early morning meals aside, the Kootenay contingent has a bit of disproving to do this year. After combining with Rossland to capture the inaugural Throwdown, Nelson fell on hard times as a solo act last season despite having some of the best tree skiing in North America just up the road at good ole Whitewater B.C. As for the competition, Girdwood is one of two Alaska representatives in this year’s tourney and the northernmost in the entire competition. In addition to home resort Alyeska adding more access to its legendary North Face this season, Alyeska and G-wood have also teamed up with the Northern Lights as part of a shock and awe package that could frazzle opponents and sway a wayward vote or two.
Eaglecrest (3) vs. Fernie (6)
It’s hard to believe that a whole year has passed since we first fell in love with the improbable upstart from Juneau, Alaska. Small on size but big on creativity, the Alaskan contingent was the only to garner support on a legislative level, earning votes from its state governor and making a run all the way to the Throwdown Finals last year. But this is the Throwdown III, a new ballgame full of new possibilities. If Eaglecrest wants to go down in Throwdown history, they’ll have to advance past Fernie, a mountain that has the terrain and the base depth to pull an upset, despite trickling out in the second round last year. Fernie has shifted its gameplan to destination status in recent years, bequeathing its dry powder to the masses. But don’t sleep on the Ferndaddy. He’s still alive and kicking up there in the Great White North and with steep shots off Polar Peak and Cedar Bowl, he’s apt to pucker a sphincter or two along the way. The word is in that Timmy has loaded up the Cinderella sled with a little extra dynamite this go around, but will it be enough for Eaglecrest to brush aside the formidable Fernie? Game on.
Red (2) vs. Whistler (7)
Whistler/Blackcomb must have wronged a Throwdown elder in a past life, because once again, the B.C. big shot enters the tournament as a humble seven-seed against former champion and Canadian rival, Red Mountain. Ski pundits have long rewarded Whistler’s immense terrain (the largest in North America), the steeps off of Spanky’s, and Earl’s sundeck après, but the committee was unable to shake the large crowds and low snow totals of recent years. Just a few (thousand) mountains away, Red wants to return to form again this season after being clipped by Hurricane Eaglecrest in last year’s tourney. With a strong posse of Crazy Koots at their back, Red knows that the extra 150-foot bootpack off the top of Paradise washed down with some shots in the Coolers could be the hottest ticket in the tourney. Even still, reports are coming in that Whistler has begun construction on a gondola to the top of the Throwdown bracket, but after several labor disputes and the start of the NHL season, it might be too little too late for the coast mountain crew.