I wasn’t interested in snowboarding. I was a happy skier who didn’t really understand the appeal of these kids riding around on one plank and their feet strapped to it. Thanks to Seema Dhillon and Kelly Etsell of Roxy was provided the opportunity to learn how to snowboard with the ROXY All Star Snow Camp at Whistler Blackcomb.
The Roxy Snow Camp is a two day snowboard and ski camp for legal age women of all abilities from absolute beginner to experts. The idea of the camp is to give women a chance to learn or improve in a women friendly environment. All the instructors are amazing women riders who are there to impart their wisdom to the attendees. It’s pretty cool to have these great role models to learn from and break the male stereotype of hardcore riders.
This program is designed for women over the age of 19 in all skill levels from their first stages of skiing to those who like to dabble in the park. This is a warm positive environment that will help you get to that next level. You’ll get great coaching from top level female skiers to help you along and the aprÃ¨s is a riot, complete with your new friends, a few prizes and lots of the day’s triumphs to share. Meet in the morning and start the day with coffee and muffins. Plus special shopping benefits at the Quiksilver Store in Whistler, BC.(source)
Day 1 was led by Nina a 10+ year snowboarder. She was only 22. Nina let me know that the Roxy instructors were warned of my (the blogger) arrival and that they must be awesome. I was a little surprised to hear this but I laughed. I guess my reputation is going to proceed me in certain situations. This could be a good thing. There were three girls in my group which was perfect. We learned some of the absolute basics like board terminology, how to use the bindings and the difference between goofy and regular foot. We learned some basic movements in the morning like proper snowboarding stance, heel edge & toe edge slides. After lunch we worked on how to do toe edge and heel edge turns individually. Once we got the two parts down, it was time to string them together into a complete movement of heel to toe edge turning.
Nina was an amazing instructor. She was articulate when describing what we needed to do with out bodies and when correcting our mistakes. It’s really helpful when learning when your instructor knows the mechanics and can describe them in a way that is easy to understand and emulate. By the end of the day, I was able to put the turns together without falling too much. Day 2 would see us get on a chairlift and do some longer and steeper runs. The hardest thing of Day 1 wasn’t the falling or learning the movements; it was sequesterment to the bunny hill and magic carpet. Eric came to visit me and laugh at my turns towards the end of the day. He also rubbed in that it was puking up top and the conditions were awesome.
Snowboarding and skiing couldn’t be anymore different. The easiest analogy I can use to describe it to skiers that have never touched a snowboard is that Snowboarding is all about letting go and skiing is more about holding on tight. Of course the there are the differences in equipment: a single board and way, way more comfortable shoes. No poles to worry about and only single edges. Upper body movement and pressure on the lead knee is how you steer in snowboarding. You swing your upper body and the board follows. This requires a degree of trust that your board will follow that isn’t present in skiing. Both require a lot of leg strength and snowboarding works the knees like crazy. If your legs are straight in snowboarding you are in trouble which explains the relaxed, slack snowboarder stance. The stand, turn and sit principle applies to both sports with a major difference being that in skiing you want to keep your shoulders and upper body facing down the mountain as much as possible for control. You legs absorb the bumps and you use lower body leaning to catch edges for turning. If your shoulders are facing down the mountain in snowboarding you probably picking up a ton of speed and might be in a wee bit of trouble if you can’t initiate a heel or toe edge turn. One of the biggest fears to get over in snowboarding is letting yourself point the board down the mountain during turns. As a beginner, turns would go from an edge (heel or toe depending on how you are starting) to the board being flat to another edge. Trying to skip the flat board transition often resulted in catching an edge at the wrong time and a major faceplant or butt fall. You can see some of my wipeouts from this incorrect transition in my videos.
I think snowboarding is easier to learn than skiing. You don’t have all the equipment to worry about. Progress comes more quickly in snowboarding than skiing. I remember my first lessons as a child, we didn’t touch poles until we got our snowplow down. Once we graduated to poles there was all the instruction in learning how to turn with legs together. I definitely didn’t pick it up in over two days. I spend many years in lessons to get to the level I’m at now.
I awoke for day two without any major body parts hurting. Even my butt was fine. I was stoked for learning how to navigate a chairlift on a board and getting some longer, steeper runs in. My day one mate, Sarah and I moved to Myia’s group on day two as we were ready to head up the lift for more challenging practice. Myia, like Nina, was amazing. She was very articulate, enthusiastic and supportive. Sarah and I learned a lot from her on Sunday. Our first foray on the Magic chair was successful and no one fell the first time. We wouldn’t be fall free that day but as Eric said to me, everyone falls. We did a few longer runs practicing out turning and control before Myia proclaimed that we could head up the Wizard chair for more difficult and longer green runs. As the day progressed my fears eased and I got a lot more aggressive with my turns and speed. That aggressiveness caused some wipeout but I learned from each of those. After few more green runs, Myia saw that the group was progressing enough to tackle some blue runs. It was intimidating a first and I bailed a lot on the first blue run we tackled. As the fears eased the blue runs became easier to manage and falling became less of an issue. It was great to finally experience more of the mountain on a board.
I was ecstatic. Here I am, someone who has never touched a snowboard before, taking on intermediate runs. I was getting hooked on snowboarding. The feeling of putting those turns together isn’t something I can describe. It’s like catching a wave on a board and once your hooked like a crackhead always chasing the next fix. I was beginning to understand these snowboarders and why people give up skiing to board. I was slowly being converted to the darkside. Thoughts of buying boarding equipment were entering my mind. I could use the horrible skiing in Collingwood as a snowboarding training ground for my next trip to Whistler. I want to be a mountain renaissance woman who skis and snowboards with ease. How freaking cool would that be? The weather conditions would dictate whether I ski or snowboard that day. People who do both tell me that they leave their skis at home on deep pow days as snowboarding is really like surfing on those days. The thought is like a virus slowly taking over my brain. I couldn’t drop snowboarding after these two days and return to skiing; it has to continue.
Myia and Nina were both really impressed with my progress over the two days. I never did tell them that I was a former athlete and pick up sports pretty quickly. My friend Andrew has called me an amazing natural athlete, which is a major compliment from him.Â Soccer, field hockey, basketball, track and volleyball were my sports in high school. I went to Junior nationals for Long and Triple jump back in my university days. All that training and body awareness helped me in picking up snowboarding so quickly.
The Roxy Snow Camp is really for all ages. I figured I’d be the oldest but at aprÃ¨s I met women in their 40s learning how to handle the jumps in the snowboard park. It was inspiring. I would recommend this camp to any women who are in Whistler and are looking for instruction. I got so much out of the camp that I’m giddy about it. I went into the camp with a goal to be able to turn and ride green runs without falling all over the place. The excellent teaching from Nina and Myia blew my goal out of the water. I never expected to board intermediate runs from the top of the Jersey Cream chair.
The camp is great value of the money. You get amazing instruction for two days in small groups. There were some women who got one on one instruction because there was only one person in their level. Private instruction at Whistler Blackcomb runs around $700/day including lift ticket and rentals. The Roxy Camp is $265 including a lift ticket and $199 without. Season’s pass holders get $50 off and the Edge Card gets you $35 off. There is a cool Roxy All Star Snow Camp hoodie for each camper and a little aprÃ¨s ski with snacks and beer. You really can’t beat the camp in terms of value. Rental equipment if needed isn’t included in the camp fees. There are two more Roxy Snow Camps this year (March 18 – 19 and April 9 – 10, 2011) and they are filling up fast.Â Â The camp is very popular with good reason.