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Going to Snowboard Camp with Tricia Byrnes
by Lauren Traub Teton

Lauren, Tricia Byrnes, and Campers

I hadn't planned to go to Tricia Byrnes' Snowboard Camp at Stratton Mountain, VT. Shoot, it was held two days before the big holiday party I'd be having at my home. But when I thought about it, the camp, taught by Tricia and some of her pro friends sounded too good to miss. So off I drove, 4 hours to Vermont on the spur of the moment, for a quick overnight. It was a two day camp, held December 22 and 23rd, but I only made it for the second day.

This was the first camp that Tricia Byrnes has offered at Stratton. Tricia is so down-to-earth and girl-next-door, with an infectious smile. You would never know that her awesome résumé includes competing (6h place) at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Park City, Number Two World Cup ranking in 2000, and 1999 World Champion among other glories. She was a good teacher, and attentive to each student and able to offer constructive critique when it was asked for. Stratton is her home mountain. More on Tricia here.

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Lauren, Elijah Teter, and Campers

There were 26 campers enrolled, and 8 coaches, making for small groups and lots of attention and coaching. Kelly Clark and Elijah Teter helped out teaching groups, along with Maria Mazzucco who rides for Hayes Brothers. Members of the very competent Stratton Snowboard School rounded out the group. Kelly Clark was low key, with her hat pulled down so low over her eyes that I'm not sure all the campers realized they were working with the 2002 Olympic Halfpipe Gold Medalist! We secretly hoped the pros would kick out the jams when they demonstrated tricks. But they were modest and appropriate for the level they were teaching. We switched coaches mid-day.

The camp was for intermediate and advanced riders and we worked on new skills in the Advanced/Expert Power Park on Suntanner, and Intermediate Park on East Meadow. We hit the hips and rails and we rode the 420 foot long SuperPipe with its 18 ft. high walls. (Transworld Snowboarding rates it Number 1!). Even though I was 30 years older than the next oldest camper, I had a ball! When you're all looking to nail the same tricks, age doesn't really matter. Except at lunch, when conversation with 12 year olds can lag a bit.

I rode my first rails at this camp. The Lower East Meadow Park has 2 baby rails, each just inches off the ground with a snow ride-up. They were so low that there was almost no place to fall. Perfect for a first timer! The fourth time I did my 50-50 down the rail I gave it a little more speed, as my coach suggested. My jib was smooth like butter and I rode away clean. I was absolutely ELATED by my success! In truth, the board seemed to know where to go.

Good basic form was emphasized. One of my coaches, Stratton instructor Erin Tasnady says "anytime you're riding without having your knees bent, you're asking for trouble." She also had us ride with our hands grasping the bottom of our jackets or the pockets on our cargo pants, to keep the upper body still. Teachers are using this method this season.

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Stratton Safety Course

We campers attended Stratton's new Safety Education Session in order to be permitted to ride the Power Park. It is given in the igloo at the top of the park. Riders are required to watch a short video where pros talk about safety and etiquette. And we each signed a responsibility waiver and were given a card that had to be shown each time to enter the park. Good idea. Hopefully injuries will be reduced by this educational program.

Besides the camp being so excellent, the weather was with us in a big way. Cloudy morning skies turned into crystal blue sunny skies, and the temperature was in the 40's. That meant the snow was soft and forgiving. I don't think I would have ridden the pipe or taken the jumps as confidently on hardpack snow.

My skills and confidence definitely went up a notch from just attending one day of this 2 day camp. By the end of the afternoon I felt that I was riding about 2/3 of the way up those 18 ft. walls of the SuperPipe. Luckily there are no pictures to disprove my theory. There is some talk that Stratton may cut another pipe right next to the main one. Imagine the pros flying from one pipe to the other like skaters do? Sick! There was also a low rail perched right at the edge of the lip of the pipe. Didn't see anyone hit it, but that could be wild too!

I highly recommend lessons, and snowboard camp to improve skills. Hey, it's all about progression. Don't  even worry about the age of the campers. As long as you're in a group that rides at your level, it doesn't matter. And where else can you get Olympic athletes to train you for a relatively modest price?

I'm packing now for Barrett Christy's camp in Vail, and I am stoked to attend Ross Powers Camp at Belleayre (NY) on January 31 and Feb. 1. 

Ride on!

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Tricia Byrnes instructs

"Let's Ride!"






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