GeneralNewsThe JP Grand Prix: The ‘World’s Best Ski Race,’ in July

Avatar Audrey ManganJuly 29, 2013
A competitor on course at the JP Grand Prix, a ski race that took place in a backyard in Whitehorse, Yukon, last Friday. (Photo: Brian McKeever)
A competitor on course at the JP Grand Prix, a ski race that took place in a backyard in Whitehorse, Yukon, last Friday. (Photo: Brian McKeever)

If you noticed the slew of photos from a ski race in the Yukon last week, you weren’t dreaming. The second-annual JP Grand Prix, hosted in the backyard of Whitehorse skier John Perry and his family, was held on Friday complete with live music, a barbecue, TV crew and, yes, snow. And because it was scheduled to coincide with Canadian World Cup skier Graham Nishikawa’s wedding, there were quite a few world-class athletes who partook in the festivities. Welcome to the world’s coolest ski race.

The course laid out for the JP Grand Prix. (Photo: Devon Kershaw)
The course laid out for the JP Grand Prix. (Photo: Devon Kershaw)

So, how is a ski race made possible in late July? With a lot of foresight. Perry and his father began stockpiling snow last winter to save up for the event. When it came time for the race, everyone at the party grabbed a shovel to build the course.

“The man with the name in the title deserves all credit for organizing the race,” wrote Canmore’s Phil Widmer in an email. “John Perry and his Dad save snow through the winter under their deck, cover it with saw dust and wait for the right time to host the ‘JP Classic.’ They did an amazing job with forerunners, a bagpipe lead procession for all competitors, bibs, prizes, medals, beer, it had all the fixings of a great race. This year it made sense to have it while everyone’s in town for the wedding. Thanks John!”

The making of the course. (Photo: Brian McKeever)
The making of the course. (Photo: Brian McKeever)

Widmer estimated that about 150 showed up for the event, and the Yukon Elite Squad’s website put the number of competitors at around 40, although ‘competitor’ is a loosely-applied term for race participants. The atmosphere was relaxed; Devon Kershaw raced in jeans and a flannel, as did Widmer and Nishikawa.

“I don’t know that there are results,” Widmer said. “It was honestly more about having fun skiing in the middle of summer in downtown Whitehorse.”

Knute Johnsgaard leaves the gate. (Photo: Yukon Elite Squad)
Knute Johnsgaard leaves the gate. (Photo: Yukon Elite Squad)
Phil Widmer on course. (Photo: Devon Kershaw)
Phil Widmer on course. (Photo: Devon Kershaw)
Kristin Størmer Steira on course. (Photo: Devon Kershaw)
Kristin Størmer Steira. (Photo: Devon Kershaw)
Devon Kershaw with Graham Nishikawa, who was married over the weekend. (Photo: Devon Kershaw)
Devon Kershaw with Graham Nishikawa before the start. Nishikawa was married the weekend following the race. (Photo: Devon Kershaw)

Results or no, somebody kept track of times and named podium finishers. Locals Janelle Greer and Knute Johnsgaard of the Yukon Elite Squad took top honors. Phil Widmer and Brent McMurtry took second and third, respectively, in the men’s category, and Perianne Jones and Kristin Størmer Steira claimed silver and bronze in the women’s race.

The women's podium: 1. Janelle Greer (Yukon Elite Squad), 2. Perianne Jones (Canadian National Ski Team), 3. Kristin Størmer Steira (Norwegian National Team). Photo: Devon Kershaw.
The women’s podium: 1. Janelle Greer (Yukon Elite Squad), 2. Perianne Jones (Canadian National Ski Team), 3. Kristin Størmer Steira (Norwegian National Team). Photo: Devon Kershaw.
Men's race-winner Knute Johnsgaard (YES) pops a bottle of champagne on the podium. (Photo: Devon Kershaw.)
Men’s race-winner Knute Johnsgaard (YES) pops a bottle of champagne on the podium. Phil Widmer and Brent McMurtry, not pictured, took second and third, respectively. (Photo: Devon Kershaw.)

After the race, the real party began, complete with good food, drink and multiple bands.

“The idea is amazing and they pulled it off really well. I think two to three different bands played through the night and the atmosphere was great,” Widmer said.

Former Yukon Elite Squad skier Fabian Brook and his band Griswold played at the afterparty. (Photo: Brian McKeever.)
Former Yukon Elite Squad skier Fabian Brook and his band Griswold played at the afterparty. (Photo: Brian McKeever.)

In conclusion, Brian McKeever’s description of the JP Grand Prix as the “world’s best ski race” seems to be fairly accurate. If the number of video cameras that cropped up in pictures is any indication, we may be able to expect another video recap of it in the near future. In case you missed it last summer, here’s last year’s edit from David Greer.

 

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Audrey Mangan

Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.

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