The smile on renowned skier Mark Abma's face says it all: If you want to have fun, head for the slopes.
Mark Abma, on a slope, is pure magic. Whether you're watching footage of his progress down a snowy precipice, over rocky terrain or through a forested gully, you're bound to hold your breath until he's safely at the bottom. With his passion translating so well to the screen, Abma's skills are much in demand by filmmakers, and he hopes to inspire others to go and have fun in the snow too.
Abma – one of British Columbia's most acclaimed big-mountain skiers – sees pushing the boundaries of his comfort zone among the sport's biggest rewards. "When you ski that difficult run or go off that jump, that's an incredible high," he says. "That experience at the bottom of the run is hard to put into words."
Like countless other skiers, however, Abma finds more than just thrills in the sport. "There is something about being up in big mountains. They hold a lot of power," he says, noting that for him mountains evoke an appreciation of nature's beauty.
A lifelong B.C. resident, Abma has skied most ranges in the province and has a deep love for them. Little wonder. When it comes to snow, access to a variety of terrain and ski resorts, B.C. ranks among the world's top contenders. These days, with minimal effort and planning, visitors from across North America and around the world can readily access B.C. ski resorts and experience their varied rewards.
While an exciting run often means bigger jumps and challenging terrain for Abma, he believes that this sense of accomplishment can be experienced at every level. "When you're on a pair of skis for the very first time, going down a green run means you're going faster than ever before," he says. "That cool sensation stays with you as you're continually learning and pushing yourself."
B.C.'s mountains offer everything from gentle slopes and gladed terrain to the steep and deep – and often it is all accessible from one of the top B.C. resorts. This means families or groups of friends can experience the mountains and winter sports activities together, even if their levels of expertise or activities of choice don't match.
"For me, [friends and powder] go hand in hand," Abma explains. "When you are skiing, you are solitary for those moments when you're making the turns. But when you get to the bottom of the run, then you get to share the experience with your friends. Sharing laughs, high-fives and hugs elevates the experience to a new level."
|Though he’s known for skiing steep and deep powder and even flying over hills like a super hero (above left), Mark Abma believes you don’t need to be an extreme skier to have a great time on B.C.’s slopes. BLAKE JORGENSON|
An important part of the experience comes from "being in the moment," says Abma, who has been skiing professionally for 15 years. "When you are making those turns, you forget everything else that is going on in your life, whether it's job, business, finance, all the things you're usually thinking about. It's really hard to be completely in the moment these days – that's what makes skiing so special for me."
Abma believes that it's not only extreme skiers with decades of training under their belts who have access to amazing mountain experiences. Part of his efforts include showing off his skills in films – Abma has worked with Red Bull Media House, Matchstick Productions, Warren Miller Entertainment and Salomon Freeski TV. His ambition goes beyond entertaining armchair travellers. "We want to ignite that spark of creativity and the desire to go and try that experience, even in people who haven't skied before. The bigger goal is to get people into the mountains, into nature," he says. "You don't need to be an extreme skier to be having a good time."
For the coming winter, Abma plans to continue living "day to day, week to week, and following the snow," he says. Skiing and filming will be part of the program, as will his friends. And of course, the awe-inspiring mountain ranges of B.C.
Inspired to follow Abma's tracks? Check out winterwithin.ca .
This content was produced by Randall Anthony Communications, in partnership with The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.