The mountains have long harbored legends. Stories for more than a century in the Lizard Range at Fernie Alpine Resort fostered the legend of the Griz who brings big snow dumps. The town celebrates the annual Fernie Griz Days in his honor, and now the resort has converted the legend into a photo contest.
The Griz was born in 1879 in a grizzly bear's cave tucked up high in the Lizard Range. He survived the brutal winter and fought the resident bear of the cave. Townspeople recorded sightings up in the peaks of a little boy dressed in a bear coat and hat. He grew into a 300-pound man, cloaked in bear skins, hiding his eyes under his fur hat, running barefoot through the snow, and shooting a large musket at the clouds during winter. Every time he shot into the sky, snow fell.
Today, Fernie credits the Griz with its snow. The resort and town honor the Griz each year in the Fernie Griz Days, a festival held March 4-6.
But the Griz is making appearances around Fernie Alpine Resort this year for the Griz Exposed Contest. The contest requires participants to find the Griz and shoot a photograph with the participant as the Griz's ski buddy. The photos, which include the face of the contestant and the background, must be submitted by March 31 to Fernie's Facebook in time for the April 1 drawing.
"It's a way to share the traditions and ski legends of Fernie," explained Matt Mosteller, vice president of Resorts of the Canadian Rockies that owns Fernie. "This is so much fun watching people share their powder smiles."
A life-size cutout of the Griz posing with a ski buddy moves to eight locations throughout the season. Visitors in search of the Griz must look through Fernie's five bowls to find him. Those who find him each of the eight times qualify for the $5,000 cash prize drawing.
Consolation prizes are available, too. Others can win the Kokanee Snow Dreams Ski and Stay package for four people at Lizard Creek Lodge for January 2012 or a First Tracks Experience for two people for next winter.
Contestants who only are able to shoot one or two photos with the Griz can win a $50 RCR Gift Card. The resort plans to give away one gift card for each of the eight locations.