The Hemlock Valley’s own ski celebrity made a special guest appearance on Saturday (Dec. 21) at the Sasquatch Mountain Resort.
Professional big mountain freeskier Mark Abma and his family enjoyed 50 centimetres of fresh powder on the resort’s 50th anniversary before saying a few words at a VIP après ski event in the cafeteria, which included a screening of his newest Matchstick Productions ski movie, “Return to Send’er.”
The opening weekend celebration also included a ribbon cutting and rides on the new Yeti Cruiser quad chair — a highlight of the day for Abma, who said he honed his skills on that section of the mountain as a teenager.
Originally from Langley, Abma started skiing on Sasquatch Mountain in 1994 when the Hemlock Ski Club was first developed. He was a part of that program until 1998, when he moved to Whistler to join the provincial freestyle ski team.
“During that five years my curiosity and creativity as a skier really blossomed, and I really honed in on my skills,” Abma told the Observer.
His parents own a cabin in the resort community, and every two years or so he returns from his world travels to ski down memory lane, but Saturday was his first official guest appearance.
“What a day. The stars really did align for us,” Abma told the audience. “We got all this new snow, it’s the 50th anniversary, you got a new chair running and I just see so much forward momentum up here, and I think it’s such a a beautiful thing.”
He also said he sees a remarkable amount of potential in the humble ski area.
“We’ve had so many great skiers who have come out of here and I’m just honoured to have been a part of it all.”
After Abma’s speech, the screening of “Return to Send’er” started. In it he stars alongside “Kootenay kid” phenom Sam Kuch, Karl Fostvedt as “the innovator” and Logan Pehota — son of accomplished adventure skier Eric Pehota — as “the legacy.”
At the age of 39, Abma is significantly older than the “young guns” he unites with in Revelstoke to “eat, sleep and shred.” Kuch, Fostvedt and Pehota refer to him as “Uncle Abma” throughout the film, and they rely on his advice when it comes to things like picking a line, flips and “chucking buckets.”
For one, Fostvedt says it was a dream come true for him to be in a helicopter with a “forefather of freeskiing.”
“All my best rounds were rounds where I was hanging out up top with Abma,” he says.
Since “Return to Send’er” was filmed in winter 2018, Kuch has received Powder’s Magazine’s 2019 “best male performance” award, and Fostvedt won “best line.”
Abma first starred in a Matchstick Productions film in 2003, shortly after he won “skier of the year.”
Watch the official trailer for Return to Send’er on YouTube.