Every year on the last day of the ski season, skiers and snowboarders come together to celebrate the season. The last day of operations usually involves fancy dress, alternative equipment choices, sun, and of course, spring snow! The traditional term for the last day of the season is “Gaper Day”. But what does this term mean and how did the tradition come to be? May we present, the legend of Gaper Day in Whistler!
What Is A Gaper
Gapers are the name given to those rockin’ a gaper gap! The “gaper gap” is a wide, drafty gap between the top of the goggle and the brim of the helmet or toque. On any other day, this gap is not something to be desired but on Gaper Day, it’s pretty much mandatory.
Many years ago, according to the Whistler Museum, the last day of the season was formerly known as ‘Ski in Jeans Day’. Around 1996, jeans began to be replaced with retro ski outfits and costumes. Creative dressing started to become more prevalent and so the name was changed to Gaper Day. A fitting name as a Gaper is basically a silly skier.
The whole day is set around having as most fun as possible while being on the mountain. This means switching your skis for a snowboard or even trying out snow blades if you can find them! Costumes and accessories are often the primary focus of the day. While jeans used to be the favorite skiing attire among gapers, their lack of breathability and stretchiness (a must for trying out retro ski tricks!) has led them to be replaced by clothing items that feature fluoro and/or spandex. Even better is wearing that one-piece snowsuit that’s been sitting in storage since the ’90s and has been waiting literally decades for this day.
Gaper Day is probably the only time skiing or snowboarding the last of the spring snow is secondary to getting silly, but it is. Often you’ll see pond skimming, dirt boarding, and even a little grass riding on your way down the mountain. Also, keep your eyes peeled for rogue pool floaties.
Once the mountain closes for the last time, Gaper Day participants flock to the village bars to carry on the festivities. This is the last opportunity to après and dance in your ski boots, so seize the moment while you can. Don’t worry if you missed it this year, Gaper Day happens ritually on Blackcomb’s closing day. Starting planning your outfit now!