For snowboarders, surfers and skaters on the Pacific’s edge, it’s a triple decker affair of the art. Words by Mikey Nixon. Photos by Erin Hogue.
It’s roughly 3 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. Lee Cardinal is vomiting a couple of ill-sitting Lucky Lager beers on the grass outside the Tofino, British Columbia, skatepark. And even though it’s early spring in one of the rainiest places on earth, the whole affair is backlit by rare Tofitian sunshine.
The third stage of the inaugural Westcoast Triple Plank is happening in the background, and the announcer is wondering if Cardinal is ready to skate. The answer appears to be no but he says yes. And with that, Cardinal grabs his board and unleashes a flurry of technical lip tricks on the park’s coping.
Earlier that same day, Steph Kokesch put on her wetsuit, a tutu and a competitive jersey before paddling out into the surf at Cox Bay. The waves out back were shoulder-high gems, the expression of an organized groundswell from the northwest. But the relentless whitewash interfered with Steph’s outfit choice, forcing her to spend most of her 25-minute heat battling waves in a ballerina backwash.
And right around noon the day before, the sun shone down on Tamo Campos as he slashed his way down a banked slalom course carved into the quickly-melting flanks of a mountain in the Van Isle wilderness. The snow was unseasonably fast, as evidenced by the rooster tails of corn snow that Campos smashed out of each successive berm.
These are all snapshots from a competition that celebrates the act of standing sideways. All proceeds from The Westcoast Triple Plank go to the Central Westcoast Rainforest Society. The event happens due to the vision and effort of Tofino local Alicia Gilmour, who has organized the Ukee Bowl Jam in the past, and Whistler-based, snowboard legend Marie-France Roy, who lives nearby part of the year.
“There’s a large part of the community here who loves snowboarding, as well as surfing, as well as skateboarding,” explains Roy. “And I think it’s pretty cool that this is one of the rare places in the world where you can do all three in one day.”
The weather cooperates for all three stages of the contest, which is nothing short of a PNW miracle. On a larger scale, the must-have-snow banked slalom—which takes about two hours to hike to—couldn’t happen if it weren’t for the unseasonably frigid winter that just passed.
“In the last five seasons, this one would be the only year that we had the snow to do it,” explains Roy. “Because the last five years were too warm.”
So will the Triple Plank happen again next year?
“Well yeah…if it snows,” laughs Roy. “That’s why we have to keep protecting our winters.”