The Orage Masters, branded as the "anti-comp," was brought into the freeski event calendar in 2003 when the "contest" was becoming a dull exercise in who could land the best switch 1080 mute. With ski brands fielding costumed teams that would shotgun beers and session a fun course come springtime, the Masters was professional freeskiing's annual chance to party like hell and keep that element of "free" alive.
The last Masters was held in Whistler in 2010, but the Olympics almost a year away and practically no non-traditional contests on the scene, Orage's Mike Nick and company decided it was time to revive the legendary event. We sat down with him to get the full story.
Why was the Masters cancelled in the first place?
Mike Nick: It wasn’t cancelled so much as we decided to take a break for a few years. The Masters is a lot like pizza. Pizza is hands down, the world's greatest food, no one can argue otherwise. And as much as pizza is suitable for any meal, sometimes you just need to take a break to realize how kick ass it really is. So we took a break. Kids started talking about the event over the past few months on web forums and we said to ourselves, "it's time for some pizza."
Why is the time right to bring it back now?
Our industry has grown up, big money non-endemics have made their way onto the scene, the Olympics are going down next year. It's all good stuff, but skiing for the sake of skiing and partying needs to be celebrated. That’s where the Masters comes in. It's a party, and this party happens to celebrate sliding on snow, costumes, trickery and wild on hill behavior.
Why Sun Valley?
Honestly, because I’ve always wanted to go to Sun Valley and the Masters is a good way for me to get there multiple times this season. I love the fact that the resort and town are 200 percent freestyle…bump minded people are fun minded people. But besides the selfish reasons, Sun Valley and (Terrain Park Manager) Brian Callahan have been doing some killer things there for the past few seasons and are making a big push within the freesytyle park scene. Not to mention they just brought in Mike Gerstner, who used do drive cats at Mammoth and actually built the first two Masters courses. Mike’s a champion builder, so between Brian's mind and Mike’s skills behind the controls, the Masters course will be epic.
What’s the anti-contest format this time around? What are some early favorites for the win?
This year we wanted to shine a new spotlight on those who are more accustomed to the glow of generator lights. We’re going with film crews for teams in Masters 8. Confirmed so far are Level 1, Stept, Inspired Media, Traveling Circus and a crew of Qhistler Kids lead by Sean Pettit and Matt Margetts. Three team spots to be filled. Invites are out, just awaiting confirmation.
We’re planning some side events that will provide plenty of room for fun and madness and Sun Valley is running a lodging special: $79 bucks per night including lift tickets based on double occupancy in the Sun Valley Lodge. Yes, a swanky hotel for you and a friend, lift tickets and the best seats in the house for the Orage Masters, The Craziest Scene Skiing Has Ever Seen [Mike's claim].
Who do you expect will be the most loud and obnoxious ones this year?
We’re heading into uncharted territory with the film crew format but with their K2 heritage, Crazy Cannuk attitudes and history of throwing it down I’d have to assume that Marg and Pettit will bring their A game.
Will there be any skiboarding, and if so, is there the chance of being treated to a Mike Nick cameo?
You never know, the Chinese Skiboard Downhill with snowmen helmets on was a last minute addition to the event last time around and was well received by all those who witnessed the wildness. It’s always a possibility. Personally I haven’t stood on a pair of shortys in a sold 10+ years, so any cameo comeback could be a wild one. Stay tuned for more.
The Orage Masters takes place April 5-7 at Sun Valley, Idaho. For more information, hit up orage.com.