Photo and Video Feature

Westcoast Triple Plank 2024

Dancing in the Rain

How do you get 100 snowboarders to build a banked slalom course in the rain?

Hook them up with a hip jump, for starters. Add the promise of surf, skate and a heck of a party on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, a place where DIY living is the standard, not the exception. Include the altruistic goal of raising money for Redd Fish Restoration Society in their pursuit of improving conditions for depleted salmonid populations, and it’s a no brainer. Show up at Mount Washington with your snowboard, your shovel, and an appreciation for spring in the Pacific Northwest, and let the good times roll. That was the recipe for Westcoast Triple Plank 2024, the seventh edition of Marie-France Roy and Alicia Gilmour’s labor of love.

DIY at work. Austen Sweetin brings his hand-painted start shack to the top of the course at Mount Washington Alpine Resort, BC. Photo: Colin Wiseman

Zoe Vernon and a friend building berms in the PNW snain. Photo: Colin Wiseman

Dig, test, repeat. Photo: Aga Iwanicka

So, we found ourselves up there in 35-degree precipitation on a Thursday in late April, shoveling, shredding, and smiling, getting a course together for timed laps on Friday. Led by digger extraordinaire Ben Bilocq, the build was smooth. A bit of cat work courtesy of the closed-for-the-season Mount Washington Alpine Resort and many hands on deck made for light work, really. The result was a 45-second-ish trip through the berms punctuated by an optional side-lane with a little gap jump to skip a few turns, and a snow-packed arch to ensure tubes for all who dropped in. By midafternoon, the course was in nice shape. The legions were free to chuck in the rain.

Harrison Gray blasting. Photo: Colin Wiseman

Test laps with the groms. Photo: Colin Wiseman

Lot life. Photo: Aga Iwanicka

Although we’d been the first arrival in the parking lot the night prior, the first on course ready to dig was a young Quebecois named Quentin Charbonneau. He had driven across Canada with his dad Olivier as part of a move for a summer job, landed on the Island the day prior, and showed up shovel in hand, ready to send. Before I had a chance to introduce myself, he was chucking a backflip over the optional gap.

Cheers, Quentin. Photo: Colin Wiseman

How low can you go? Photo: Cory Grandfield

The optional fast lane came with its hazards. Mary Rand navigates a few beverage containers before they were  recycled. Photo: Craig Grandfield

Indeed, Quentin is emblematic of those who make the Westcoast Triple Plank pilgrimage, year after year—the kind of person who’s ready to put in a bit of work to craft a collective vision of a good time. He’s also emblematic of the loosely organized yet highly motivated approach that is the modus operandi of the Triple Plank. No one really waits around for direction. Rather, all are encouraged to take initiative and contribute however they can. It’s the best kind of inclusivity with no real boundaries (beyond those imposed by a reasonable level of safety for the participants, of course).

Maria Thomsen in the fast lane. Photo: Cory Grandfield

A well-dressed grom navigating the tube. Photo: Colin Wiseman

Gillian Andrewshenko en-route to a first-place time. Photo: Colin Wiseman

By Friday, the rain eased to cloudy skies and occasional drizzle. Mount Washington spin the triple-seater yellow chair just for us. A couple hundred boarders rallied the course on snowboards and snowskates and even a monoski (“It’s a single plank so it’s all good,” Marie explained), before packing up and making the three-hour drive west to Tofino.

Lined up and ready to rip. Photo: Cory Grandfield

Lead builder Ben Bilocq above the crowd. Photo: Colin Wiseman

Warm-ish weather made for smooth and fast berms. Photo: Colin Wiseman

Jason Porter pays respects to the local fauna. Photo: Colin Wiseman

Zoe Vernon adding a bit of flair with Sonja Mijatovic. Photo: Cory Grandfield

The boss drops last. Marie-France Roy wrapping up the day on course. Photo: Colin Wiseman

A lot of legends graced us with their presence. Here’s DCP on course and en route to second place in the trifecta. Photo: Colin Wiseman

Over under with Sam Currie and Aari Howarth. Photo: Colin Wiseman

A family affair with the Jacobsons. Photo: Colin Wiseman

Snowskate or die. Dan Barker celebrates his wins in both the snowboard and snowskate banked slalom by jibbing the arch. Photo: Colin Wiseman

This year, as is often the case during spring in the PNW, the rain didn’t let up. The good news: the surf was up, as well. Local photographer Liam MacDonald called it the best conditions he’d seen at Cox Bay for a competition in many years. Consistent, head high waves on tap for the duration of the day.

Christophe Henault goes vertical on a closeout section. Photo: Colin Wiseman

Lauren Lund navigating her way to a fifth place finish in the trifecta. Photo: Colin Wiseman

Erik Gelling fully engaged and en route to winning the trifecta for the Men. Photo: Craig Grandfield

Standing under the judge’s tent trying to keep dry, Marie expressed concern with the weather, the one thing completely out of her control. But turning a 360, she saw it didn’t matter much, I hope. A crew of groms huddled under one of the sponsor tents, burning sticks on a propane fireplace. A group of neoprene-clad competitors laughed in the drizzle. Someone ripped donuts down the beach on a demo ebike. No one seemed to care. Let it rain. It was a good day to be wet.

Riding in the rain. Photo: Colin Wiseman

Craig Grandfield on the nose, winning best wave for the longboarders. Photo: Cory Grandfield

Restoration work with Ucluelet, BC’s Redd Fish Restoration Society. This year’s event raised $47,000 for the non-political nonprofit that is focused on restoring habitat for local salmonids. Photo: Cory Grandfield

This optimism carried to the third leg of the triple plank, Sunday’s skate day. Despite the best effort of all with tents, blowtorches, and tarps, midday rain was unstoppable. Brief clearing gave hope the event would run. Then, a downpour drenched the park and forced the cancellation of the skate contest. “Maybe we’ll call it the wet-coast dual plank this year,” Marie joked. Then the deluge turned to drizzle. People began to skate, tossing up airs in the deep end of the bowl above saturated concrete.

Julien Gagnon was the standout skater. Here, he gets the session going in the deep end above wet concrete. Photo: Colin Wiseman

Hagen Kearney and a little help from a friend. Photo: Cory Grandfield

Multidisciplinary surf photographer Marcus Palladino. Photo: Colin Wiseman

The groms were highly motivated. Photo: Cory Grandfield

The sun came out, finally. Photo: Cory Grandfield

I don’t want to say that we can control the weather out there in the temperate rainforest, but it felt, in a way, like we willed it to, finally, stop pouring. An unwavering commitment to riding and a shared love of all things sideways kept the momentum up at the 2024 Triple Plank. Aided by squeegees and brooms and a whole lot of love, the park began to dry. The sun came out. It turned into a skate demo of sorts. Little girls in tutus and grown adults and all in between let it roll into the afternoon, finally drying out from four days of dancing in the rain.

Thank you to the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation for welcoming us onto your ancestral homelands and providing a beautiful evening of cultural immersion. Photo: Colin Wiseman




The Shivas and Les Baliens brought closing night energy. Photo: Colin Wiseman

Marie-France Roy gets a lift from event emcee Colin D. Watt. Thank you Marie, and everyone who puts energy into this labor of love. We appreciate you. Photo: Colin Wiseman



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