Category Archives: Snowboard

Mucking about in the snow


It’s been a busy week – every day has been up early for lessons. Then head back for dinner followed by a either a technical session or out socialising – there’s usually some alcohol in the mix. The local ice hockey team are in the play-offs for the championship so the latest game was interesting, a few fisticuffs on the ice as they lost the latest in the best of 7. Apparently when playing some of the away games there’s more trouble in the crowd than on the ice. It’s currently standing at 3 wins apiece so tonights game is going to be a good one.

The week on the slopes has been good, lots of technique stuff, some of the higher impact stuff I’m having to forgoe as I’m still carrying an ankle injury. Sadly it didn’t stop me trying to land some jumps when we went back country hiking (outside the signed runs, no ski patrol or avalanche control) on the split boards a couple of days back. Weirdly the hiking itself was great fun, there’s a lot of banter going on. Avoid the tree wells the guide said, one of my housemates wasn’t listening and immediately planted himself in one of them. The concern shown by the entire group was touching i.e. none, it was just a plain camera moment. It took him a good 5 minutes to extricate himself

It’s odd how a weekend off the slopes is now something to really look forward to, though one of my housemates is going to try and teach me to ski this afternoon. Having legs that can go in different directions on skis seems like something that nature didn’t intend.

You’ll see in one of the pics the crime-wave currently hitting Fernie, in the local newspaper there`s an article detailing that a pane of glass has been broken…

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Split boards

Well that was an interesting experience, a snowbaord that is split down it’s length held together by a couple of hinges all supported by a couple of special riser plates that your normal bindings attach to. 90 minutes after pickling up the boards all 5 of us finally got our gear put together and up the hill we went. The first problem was how to negotiate the lift with the huge backpack I’d been handed containing shovel, rescue transceiver, pole and other various bits. It was like carrying a small child, not falling off the other end lift was tricky.

The it was a ‘quick’ board down the run so we could get used to the feel of them. They felt bad, real bad. We’ve been assured they work great in powder but on this trial run down the piste (or groomer in local langauger) I managed approx. 10m before catching an edge. These things are very twitchy, you have to change your riding style to that you’d use on ice i.e. take it gingerly. Riding flat board down a cat-track is a nightmare, it’s forever grabbing an edge trying to spit you off. I did so much arm flapping that I looked like Orville. One of our party nearly wound up in the trees when it caught unexpectedly and ran him round in a rather sharp wheelie to the right. You should have heard the skier directly behind trying to avoid running over his head.

Another lift up and board half way down a run and it’s time to split the boards to make them into fat skis. Then attach skins to the underside (like strips of carpet with glue on one side to hold it to the board) and we’re off hiking back up the hill. Everyone passing down the run giving us the “who are these idiots, don’t they know there’s a lift they could use” look. Now I know what the X-trainer in the gyn really should feel like.

We didn’t do too much, just zig-zagged up the hill for about an hour making very specific turns to ensure we didn’t just slide down backwards. Then the final board back down the hill, at which point I learnt not to try and jump these things if you’re not landing on powder.

Still, at least we’re prepared for our back country hut trip in a couple of weeks time. Back to nomal boards next week.
Matt Continue reading

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So what have we been doing so far?

It’s mainly been work on the ground to improve board balance – 5 planes of balance:

fore/aft of the board

The last one being just how your leg suspension works. We’ve been video’d a couple of times and it’s never a pretty sight, from my self image of ripping down a hill
boarding like a god, I find that I actually stand way too tall, look gangly and don’t hold the edge into the hill correctly – the infamous “shit ‘n shag” positions.

As for jumping I land too far back on the board but at least I land which I find a bonus.

We’ve been doing some pivoting work just to point the board in the right direction and 180’ing both flat and jumping just to put us into switch and out again. To the extent that we’re getting close to riding down the hill heel goofy, heel switch with no toe edge in-between!

Today we’re going to be using ‘split-boards’ so that we can hike up the hill. The snow is coming down and I don’t think it’s going to be a graceful sight all round…

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Finally a post

Ok so its 2 weeks in and this is the first email. I know I know, I`m just a work-shy slacker. Sadly my laptop died, I took all that time getting it sorted – latest software, webcam so I can make skype video calls, things to read on it, music, videos, a rather nice little mouse, blog authoring software. I arrive at Fernie, power-on and the git thing refuses to boot up. I spent the next week begging favours from people so that I can try and download stuff to make an attempt to fix it. Now that was tricky – I went to a local supermarket, “do you have windows vista or xp”. The magnificent reply was “dude we don`t even get music CD`s to sell here”. Bugger. I`ve now finally admitted defeat and started using an Internet cafe – and me a supposed IT guy too. So I`m going to be a little light on certain bits – video, pics etc.

My first impressions on arrival was that I`m being set up, everyone is just too friendly. Even the bus driver picking the group up from Calgary airport (one of the cleanest I`ve ever been in) seemed as though he was on drugs, or maybe after a massive tip. Too much european travel can do that to you I guess.

The planned 4 hour journey from Calgary to Fernie took a bit more than that as we were caught behind an accident though most of bus was too tired to notice. We arrived at about 10pm, straight into the house with my 5 new companions for the next 6 weeks and after a brief exploration of the house crashed out.

Next day was veg or orientation day. We were taken on a tour of the town and had all the snowboard shops pointed out (again everyone in the shops were suspiciously friendly, must be trying to flog me something I don`t want). Then a bit of a talk on various bits and pieces and then up to the mountain for ski lift passes and a first look at what we`d be hitting the next day. Not bad, some of the the runs looked almost vertical from down the bottom but we`re assured we`ll be doing them by the end of the 6 weeks.

The skiers and snowboarders are divided and then split by number of weeks of experience. Then for the next couple of days we`re touring round the mountain receiving some initial instruction by Aubrey – one of the 2 instructors that will take us boarders. Half way through the first day and I`m thinking that I`m already at the limit of my skills. Either I`ve picked the exact right course or I`m in way over my head.

Still, we had a rest day and then out with Jeff for the next 3 days, he`s the free-style specialist so there`s a lot of jumping around on the board – all about showing us how static we are on the board and that we`re not weight centred. Good job I wear impact shorts and a helmet else I`d be in the Emergency Room having either my head or anus closely examined. Then it`s back to Aubrey for some other technique stuff and heading on up for some work through the trees – the advice was good enough, aim for the gaps but not always applied correctly in my case.

On course-days we have breakfast and evening meals with the rest of the course people at the lodge (you stay in either one of the rented houses or the 100+ person lodge). There seems to be a lot of timing needed for when you turn up to be fed, there`s a lot of Uni gap-year type people staying in the lodge so particularly in the mornings it can get to be a bit of a scrum with a lot of peanut butter knives splayed everywhere.

The house is pretty decent, split over 3 floors with 1 person in the basement and the other 5 on the top floor. The housemates are 4:2 male to female with all the blokes being from the uk and the women from Canada and Germany.

I`ve now been to my first Ice-hockey game – the local team are called the Ghostriders. It`s very fast and a bit confusing until the basic rules are pointed out to you. The number of subs coming on and off the ice is unbelievable, most players only stay on the ice for 45-60 seconds at a time. I was a little disappointed that there were no fisticuffs, but by all accounts so were the local spectators.

Last night was a street hockey game but I limited myself to observer rather than participating as I`m looking out for my ankle after getting just a little too flash with a trick Aubrey taught us. A handstand whereby you wheelie the snowboard and have both hands trailing in the snow behind you for balance. My moment came after about 20-30 metres (odd looking at the snow upside down trying to steer) when I slammed the board down to brake and both ankles protested mightily at being such a fool. Still hopefully all will be well for Saturday when we heard up the mountain on split-boards to prepare for the back-country trip. No, I`ve never heard of them either so I`ll let you know what they`re like….


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