Chris Smardenka learned to ski at three years of age at Blue Mountain ski resort in Collingwod, Ontario but moved out to Golden four years ago in order to take advantage of the much better skiing opportunities in Western Canada.
This past weekend, Smardenka was one of a handful of locals to qualify to compete in Wrangle the Chute. It was Smardenka’s second straight year in the competition and he managed to post a respectable 40.50 two run score, good enough for 27th place in the men’s skiing division. On his second run, Smardenka jumped into Dare and hit the jump off the tree triangle half way down the chute before making his way to the finish line at the base, earning him a score of 22.17 from the judges.
“It was fun (out there today). It’s mixed emotions though, it’s fun, exciting, scary and nerve wracking,” Smardenka said. “It’s fresh powder though so it’s worth it.”
Smardenka admits he is a bit of an adrenaline junkie and part of the attraction to steep, dangerous chutes like Truth and Dare at Kicking Horse is the fear factor.
“It gets your heart going, and you have to try and get over that at the beginning (of the run) and calm yourself down,” he said.
Wrangle’s change of venue to Terminator North was a welcome one for Smarkdenka.
“It’s a much longer run which is nice, you get to enjoy it a little more and more options to hit…it’s definitely not easy and it’s the best of the best out here,” he said.
Smardenka works as a mountain guide and ski instructor in the winters and spends his summers back in Ontario at Wasaga Beach, where he works as a bartender in order to save up as much money as he can for his annual trip out west.
Not surprisingly, during the summer he enjoys water sports like wake boarding and swimming.
Eventually, however, he’d like to make Golden his permanent home and it’s more than just the skiing that keeps Smardenka coming back.
“Not only is the mountain awesome but the town is pretty chill, it’s a pretty small town and has a good vibe to it and everybody knows everybody….it’s awesome,” he said.