Gliding through the seasons
Filling a car with friends and blasting good music while setting a course west towards the Rockies is a ritual many enjoy. As the snow melts, a classic event is making its return to the Sunshine Village Ski Resort in Banff.
The Slush Cup is celebrating its 89th year at Sunshine Village and aims to be the biggest party on the mountain. The goal of the tournament is simple, but requires guile and good tolerance for cold; a pool of melted ice and snow waits at the bottom of the slope and those brave enough must board or ski down the run and successfully glide across the slush, or meet a damp fate.
“It’s been going on as long as we’ve been around,” says Kendra Scurfield, Sunshine Village’s media and communications manager.
Scurfield has been involved with Sunshine Village for the better part of her adult life and has seen the Slush Cup evolve over the years. The roots of the competition go back to the first hotel on the mountain back in the early 1900s when the icy creeks in the area flooded over during spring.
“Somebody probably saw what was happening and said ‘hold my beer, I’m going to try and ski across this thing,’” says Scurfield.
Since then, the tradition has been modernized and marks the official end of the skiing and snowboarding season in the area.
However, this tournament is far more than a competition for those who don’t mind soaked snow pants. It’s a time—the May long weekend specifically—when the majority of Banff comes together for a proper winter send off.
“I remember being a kid walking around town and seeing all the posters and hearing all the parties happening everywhere,” says Scurfield.
Attendees of the Slush Cup can spectate or, if they’re feeling particularity gutsy, register to compete in the tournament itself. Numerous competition catagories, which come with cash prizes, include biggest splash, best costume and, of course, the title of Mr. and Mrs. Slush Cup.
Scurfield notes that the accessibility of the contest and the festive environment is what has made it last over the decades, emphasized further by the fact that anybody can go to the mountain and have a good time.
“You’ll find yourself sitting next to a CEO of WestJet, then making friends with somebody from Australia,” says Scurfield.
Notable alpine athletes often make appearances, such as pro skiiers Chris and Shona Rubens, adding to the already vibrant mix of people who attend.
It’s a full weekend and prior to Monday’s official Slush Cup competition will be a rail jam over the slush pit and a watery slalom down the mountain. Rounding out the party will be Edmonton’s own Scenic Route To Alaska and Canmore band The WOW! Signal.
The Sunshine Village Slush Cup is not only a pillar of the Banff community, but an opportunity to spend a weekend in the mountains and say a proper farewell to winter in the most Canadian way possible, by partying and watching skiers and snowboarders wipe out in fantastic ways.
Scurfield is hopeful of the festival’s continued legacy and says the future is looking bright.
“I want to see it become the quintessential May long weekend event in Alberta,” she says.
Sat., May 20 – Mon., May 22
Sunshine Village Ski Resort