Sitting comfortably in my warm truck the temperature gauge read minus twenty-four. Tossing on an extra layer I prepare for the polar temperatures and rejoice knowing that the cold has perfectly preserved the powder from the previous day’s storm. Lake Louise might be colder than my coastal blood is used to, but the snow is lighter than I’m used to and that’s something I could get used to. Located in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Lake Louise Ski Resort is everything you’d hope for. Rugged glaciated views, pristinely groomed runs and enough wild terrain to entertain for days – making it an easy destination to add to the bucket list. It also makes for the perfect venue for a Freeride Qualifier event. I slip on my boots and make my way to the base of the hill. This place screams nostalgia and I can’t wait to reunite with some of my favorite runs while scoping out this years course venue.

This weekend Lake Louise will host the FWQ 2* event for another year and they’re welcoming it back with open arms. The day before the competition the annual Big Mountain Challenge will take place for the 15th year in a row. It’s going to be a weekend of rowdy skiing, a weekend of entertainment the masses.

FWQ 2* event. Photo by Chris Moseley.


The Freeride World Qualifier 2* is an IFSA sanctioned event. Athletes will compete in different venues over the course of two days and are judged on line, control, fluidity, technique, and style.

WHERE: Lake Louise Ski Resort

WHY: “We felt it would be a great transition for the ski resort & the sport by still offering the one day comp (The Big Mountain Challenge) which is non-sanctioned, followed by the two day 2* FWQ. This way we have the best of both worlds. We already host a Junior Freeride event (a National 3*) so it felt natural to add a sanctioned event for the 18+ athletes as well. Our world-class terrain is perfect for these big mountain competitions, so we wanted to showcase that to people from other countries as well as let our Bow Valley locals earn points at their favorite mountain.” – Leigha Stankewich Lake Louise Ski Resort’s Events Manager.

WHEN: February 23 and 24th are the big competition days but there’s a heck of a lot going on this week so check out this thorough schedule by Lake Louise so you don’t miss a thing as a spectator, athlete or mega fan.

Thursday, February 21st, 2019 

  • 8:00 am – 4:00 pm: Early Check-In at the Season Pass Desk, Whiskey Jack Cafeteria.
  • Non-mandatory Inspection Day in the Venue.


  • The Qualifier Venue will be closed for the Big Mountain Challenge (non-sanctioned event.)

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019 – FWQ 2* QUALIFIERS

  • 8:15 am: Mandatory Athlete & Coach meeting in the Sitzmark Lounge.
  • 9:00 am: Load Glacier Chair & Top of the World Chair.
  • 9:30 am – 10:30 am: Mandatory Inspection Runs (no hitting of features.)
  • 11:00am – 3:00pm: Qualifier Runs in the Venue.
  • Results of the day posted in the Sitzmark Lounge and online – whenever the last competitor is done and the judges have looked over the scores.

Sunday, February 24th, 2019 – FWQ 2* FINALS

  • 8:15 am: Mandatory Coach & Athlete meeting in the Sitzmark Lounge.
  • 9:00 am: Load Glacier Chair & Top of the World Chair.
  • 9:30 am – 10:45 am: Mandatory Inspection Runs (no hitting of features.)
  • 11:00am – 3:00pm: Finals Runs in Venue.
  • 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Results & Awards of the day in the Sitzmark Lounge – whenever the last competitor is done and judges have tallied the scores. The Sitzmark Bar will be open for service while you wait.


Leigha Stankewich is the lady behind all of the events at Lake Louise. We caught up with her to find out why Lake Louise was keen to bring what we think is a really rad event back for another year.

FWQ 2* event. Photo by Chris Moseley.

“We hope to showcase our amazing big mountain terrain to the world, and want to offer a venue for these athletes to rack up points to go to their official ranking. We hope that the athletes will come to Lake Louise for the comp and then come back later with their parents, friends family etc because of how much they enjoyed the terrain & everything we have to offer. We already have athletes signed up from Europe which is great to see.”

“The day before the FWQ we host the Big Mountain Challenge which is a more grassroots and non-sanctioned event, with the same format as the FWQ. We hope this draws people who have never competed before to come try it out (less pressure and more about fun!) Then, in typical Lake Louise fashion, we try and keep the same grassroots flow & laid back vibe going into the FWQ. Since the FWQ is a 2* event, that definitely contributes to the athlete’s growth in the sport, as they move up the ladder to 3 & 4* events.”

“The community can be involved by coming out to the base of the venue to watch & cheer on the athletes. On the Finals day, we will be live streaming the event to Facebook so we can really engage with guests, which is really cool.”

See ya on the live stream friends! Catch it here. Read up on Lake Louise’s ski history here or for an extra dose of froth before the big weekend read about their solid start from earlier this year. Should be prime time out there!

Prizing provided by Fresh, Lake Louise Ski Resort & The Lake Louise Inn.


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