When the curtain rose in Whistler, British Columbia, for the September premiere of Matchstick Productions' newest film, The Hit List, a composed, 35-year-old film favorite, Mike Douglas, got the loudest cheers. Fans didn't love him because he's a local, or because his name's synonymous with freestyle skiing, or because he's still setting trends a decade after exploding on the scene. They roared for M.D. simply because he's one of the best.
He's known as the Godfather, but call him the elder statesmen of stoke. Douglas commands respect, whether he's smoothly landing switch off backcountry cornices, tossing trademark D-spins off massive jumps, or slaying steep, exposed mountain faces. A Campbell River, BC, native and former Canadian National Freestyle Team member and coach, Douglas moved to Whistler in 1988. He challenged the status quo when he and his friends—J.P. Auclair, Vincent Dorion, Shane Szocs, and J.F. Cusson—elbowed their way into the snowboard park and started slamming the jumps. "There was a lot of negativity at first, Douglas says. "Skiers were not supposed to go into the park. Boarders would throw snow in our faces.
Unintimidated, Douglas and his crew persisted. Loyal to two planks, they became the New Canadian Air Force, and in 1997 designed a ski specifically for park and pipe: the twin tip. Douglas and cohort Steve Fearing shopped the new ski to 10 different companies before Salomon agreed to produce the Teneighty. That gave skiers an entrée into the previously off-limits park and changed the sport forever. "It took the same skills, but the park was total freedom from moguls, which are so regimented, Douglas says. "We put our heart and souls into it.
Recently Douglas reinvented himself as a big-mountain skier. "The park's harder on the body, he says, but the transition's been easy. "Growing up in BC, big mountain is something I've always done. The Godfather shows no signs of stopping. "We were the guys with the most talent when we became the Air Force, he says of the early days. "We were all creative-thinking, free spirits. We still are.
BECOMING THE DON: Salomon Hardgoods Sports Marketing Manager Ted Wardlaw came up with the ironic moniker Godfather of the New School. "That's fine with me, says Douglas. "I've felt old since I started.
APPLE DOESN'T HUCK FAR FROM THE TREE: "My two-year-old, Devon, can launch himself off the couch and do cool stuff now. He picks up ski mags and leafs through them. He has no idea what he's looking at. Sometimes I don't either.
SAMENESS = LAMENESS: "The industry spends more time battling itself in the quest for next instead of celebrating and embracing what's going on right now.