“If you don’t fall, you’re not learning.”

As a kid lucky enough to grow up in Whistler I heard that a lot. My father used to say it after pretty much every ski day. By age 13 I’d generally only blast one or two morning runs with my parents and then spend the rest of the day ripping around with my buddies. When the family would reconvene at the car my old man would almost always ask, “How was it son? Any good yard sales?”

There almost always were, we were kids playing in the snow; jumping off, over and into pretty much anything without the wisdom (or basic knowledge of physics) to only seek out the cliffs with steep landings. I had a lot of wipeouts but almost always escaped with little more than some bruises and a story to tell.

“That’s good,” my dad would say. “If you don’t fall, you’re not learning.” And that was that. We’d go home, eat, sleep, wake up and do it all over again.

Another lesson learned. MARK GRIBBON PHOTO

I didn’t think too much about it until years later, in 1999, when my buddies and I were making a ski movie and the opening shot of our film was Eric Pehota ripping sweet heli-pow in the Whistler backcountry. The shot featured Eric, a Canadian ski legend, hauling ass with perfect form but then four or five turns in he catches and edge and cartwheels, narrowly missing the only exposed rock on the pitch. It was a great shot but Pehota was a ski hero of ours—it was seriously an honor to even have him in our movie— so we had to call him to see if it was okay to show “a bail.”

“Of course,” he replied. “Falling is part of the game.”

And so it is. Because life’s greatest lessons don’t often come from those runs we nail clean, they come from our bails, from the bad luck or the mistakes.  And on the mountains those mistakes can hurt and they can break you, but like Pehota says, they’re part of the game. And they can be fun to watch.

“Those huge bails are part of our daily lives,” says Whistler local and snowboard icon Leanne Pelosi. “It comes with the territory of learning a new trick or getting used to new terrain. We definitely have more bailing footage than landing.”

And some of that bailing footage is collected above in a sweet bail video from last year called “Sticks and Stones” which features Leanne and a whole slew of other top female riders taking their hits, making yard sales and learning things the hard way (Parental Advisory: the hard way includes blood).

“It’s nice to revisit those ones sometimes,” Leanne says. “Some of them are really funny, when you think you’ve landed safely and then suddenly you are tumbling.”

Sticks and stones might break your bones but it’s all about perspective. “I’d would love to tumble through that kind of deep pow right now,” Leanne says with a laugh.

Leanne is currently working on an all-girls shred film called Full Moon and for any of us non-pros looking to glean the most knowledge possible from our yard sales.

Back to school, switch. MARK GRIBBON PHOTO


Feet Banks moved to Whistler at age 12 so his parents could live the dream and ski as much as possible. He ended up living it too. After leaving home Feet did a few good stints in warmer climates and 4 years of writing school before returning to the mountains to make ski movies, hammer out a journalism career and avoid the 9-5 lifestyle as long as possible. He’s been a hay farmer, a hole digger, a magazine editor and has a jump named after him on Blackcomb Mountain, Feet’s Air. It’s tiny.