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Camp Report - Pro Ride Snowboard Camp
at Whistler, B.C.,Canada
By Lucy Steele
I was given the chance to train on a freestyle camp for a week in Whistler. Well any snowboarder would be off his cornice to turn that down, so I was booked to fly to Vancouver on New Years Eve to hook up with Anthony Crute, an adopted Canadian from Australia and owner of Pro Ride for a five day freestyle camp.
1st January 2006
Woke up early and decided being New Years Day I really had to ride. There had been a good 10cms overnight. As soon as I strapped in it felt like I'd never been away. I was at home on my board and it felt awesome to be riding again. By late lunch I was done. I could feel the time lag coming on, feeling more like 10pm than 2pm. I then bent the credit card on some new outer-wear and made my way back to the house ready for a catch up back home and an early night.
With a 3:1 coaching ratio for my group and the focus on freestyle I was looking forward to this day. With more new snow Anthony rode us hard and fast through some deep sections, lift lines and out of bounds of course. I was waist deep in places and super fun to jump into. I was stoked to have stomped a few 360's off some natural hits and cat tracks and by the time we ventured to the park I was well warmed up and loving every second.
By the end of the session we had shredded deep powder off piste and hit laps of the park where I had learnt how to method off some medium sized spines. By lunchtime my thighs were solid. I was thirsty and weak but had a nice tired feeling where you know you've pushed yourself and achieved all you could. Anthony gave each individual good focus and specific analysis and improvement. He pushes hard but that's exactly what you need when learning freestyle.
I woke up feeling some soreness in places. Powder days always take their toll but being my first for nine months it wasn't too bad. I have to say the yoga and gym sessions had paid off. It was hard pack today so a different attitude and approach was needed. I hadn't felt too happy with my performance, only being stoked on one or two efforts. We had the video camera out and its curse was abounding. A 10ft drop into the flats off a spine didn't help matters and I was pretty beat up by the end of the session. Still my method grabs were improving and I got a few 3's in elsewhere on the hill.
In the evening we did some video analysis. I was actually pretty stoked on a few tricks and learnt from some mistakes we could see, like bad approaches and looking down. The big acid drop looked quite gnarly and got a few oohs, aahs and laughs from the other campers on the course. Video analysis is such a helpful way to learn and having such a good coach to rider ratio is invaluable.
There had been another dump overnight, which set the conditions perfectly for the weekly 'jump day'. After a bit of a search we found the perfect spot. Only a 20 minute hike and we had a super deep, fluffy pow with a good transition and an existing jump to build on so we didn't have to start from scratch. All the campers were together today, freestylers, freeriders, training instructors etc so there was a good crew and a good vibe. It didn't take long to set the booters and I learnt some useful tips for backcountry jump construction.
We build three different sized jumps and the one I was hitting was quite a wedge with a super nice landing. As we began to jump the sky cleared so for a solid 5 hours we just hit it over and over. The four pros that came with us were laying down some solid tricks. Anthony tried and stuck his first ever switch backside 540 misty flip which I know he was stoked on so I felt it deserved a mention and Ryan stomped three back flips in a row having never landed one before. So the stoke was definitely there and the coaches were helping with tips. Everything they said was taken on board because when they were throwing down tricks like that any advice was gladly received.
I woke to rain in the valley but learned that we'd had 26 cms of snow on the hill so was all set for a powder day. Although it was super deep it was also crazy wet and heavy. Conditions like that are really hard work on the legs and not ideal for freestyle as the snow is slower and sticky which can amount to nasty injuries. Still Anthony found us some freshies to shred and by the later part of the session I had found a flow and with Anthony's help a way to ride the variable conditions.
With more snow overnight and not so wet and heavy as yesterday we focused on laps of the park which was awesome. I was now more used to the snow conditions and had fun slashing the sides. I also worked on frontside airs off the spines which were super fun and frontside 360.s off the table top jumps. What I had the most fun doing today though was the pipe. We hit it every run and I could really fell the improvement since day one.
After a lunch stop and arranging times to meet for an end of camp get together in the evening I went back to the park. I managed a few more laps and worked on some of the stuff I was doing in the session. I'd been going a good 5 hours in the park on and off so after landing on my knee boardsliding a box I rode down. The apre's ski at Blacks pub was fun. Everyone from camp got together including the coaches and we shared a few pitchers or beer and swapped photos and stories of the week's events on the hill.
So my freestyle level definitely improved and it was great focusing on that one aspect of my riding. However a week really only gave me a taste for more and I would say two weeks would make a huge difference. I feel I am now at a place ready to step it up in the park and pipe as I have the basics down and am developing my own style and expression, but its time to go home.
In the words of the great Canadian snowboarder Devun Walsh "For me snowboarding is all about hanging out with my friends". For me it's the same, you can train and progress all you like but it's all about shredding with your buddies, having fun and getting stoked on each other. Pro Ride provided me with the opportunity to make loads of new friends. So my advice would be to go on a camp, it's definitely worth the money and you will enjoy it but if you can go with a buddy or two and make the most of it.
Finally, a big thank you to Anthony for the training. I hope Pro Ride continues to build on what is a well structured and slickly run operation.
Peace and happy shredding.
Lucy Steele is a freelance writer from the UK who visited Pro Ride
Snowboard Camp in January 2006
Pro Ride Snowboard Camps run from December until April each year and started in 1997.
Pro Ride offers freeride, freestyle and snowboard instructor training for intermediate to advanced adult riders. Camps range from 5 days to12 weeks. Start dates are flexible as are the length of the programs available. You can start training as early as the beginning of December or as late as mid April. All of Pro Ride's coaches are fully certified, sponsored riders who know Whistler inside out - this guarantees that you will be riding the best terrain available each day with some of the best in the business. Pro Ride offers the best coach to camper ratio of all the winter camps in Canada - 1 coach to 4 campers.
Info at www.pro-ride.com