Our last week of training with SnowSkool before our Level 2 exam – how exciting!

This week has been one of the best weeks so far. I got to ski with the instructor Dom this week which turned out to be great. It was the first time I had him for a whole week of teaching. We got into groups for the last time ever and I got to ski with people I had not skied with throughout the whole course – aussie boys Sam D’Arcy and Tim Sanderson plus Joost, Euan and Johnny were in my group. We had a blast! On Monday morning Dom took us for some intermediate parallel to start off the day. The weather was warming up but it kept snowing occasionally. The group had a great morning but the afternoon was even better! We got to rip up around the resort and did some teaching at the same time. Dom knew how to mix it all up well and keep us entertained.

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday having a go at teaching the groups. Everyone seemed to be pretty confident in what they were doing which is a good sign for our Level 2s. Wednesday’s weather brought some great powder for us and Dom let us spend most of the day just shredding. We got some great shots of the group skiing knee deep on Shoulder run. It was amazing!!

Thursday was St Patrick’s Day! Shane and Rob were dressed up in big green costumes all day and they represented Ireland in style. It was a nice sunny day up at Sunshine Village and Dom decided to let us work on our technique and teaching in the morning and then we did a bit of free skiing in the afternoon. It was a lovely, relaxing day and everyone seemed to have smiles on their faces for all of it. After we finished, I went into town with Kirstin and we bought some clothes to make a St Paddy’s day outfit. Table cloths work really well for anyone who is interested haha! We had a great night down in the Storm Cellar with Shane and Rob setting the Irish tone. The barmen changed the colour of our drinks to green as well – it looked awesome!

Friday was amazing. The snow was perfect, the sun was out and it was possible to ski in hoodies! Dom let us take over for the day so we could practise some last minute teaching – but in our own fun way! We got to take turns going wherever we wanted on the mountain whether it be bumps, tree skiing, terrain park, groomed runs or skiing off drops. It was such a nice day and we finished at 2pm instead of 4pm and went to Trappers Bar with everyone. Luckily it was warm so we sat on the balcony outside and enjoyed the afternoon sun. All the instructors joined us for some food and drinks and we all talked about what we would be doing after the course and life in general. Once the day was over we went back to the hostel for a great barbeque dinner and prepared for a big night in the Storm Cellar with a Hawaiian-themed karaoke night. We were also celebrating Tom Kershaw’s birthday that night which was good fun. Friday night was the best way to end of the last week of training.

As we come close to the Level 2s starting on Monday I would like to take the opportunity to wish everyone the best of luck for their exams and fingers crossed we all pass with flying colours! I’d also like to congratulate all those in Big White who successfully passed their exams.

Shauna

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Week 9 in Banff saw an intense week of training in preparation for our Level 2 exams after an enjoyable week resting up.  Monday morning was really nice – the sun was out with the occasional flurry of snowflakes and the temperature was above -10oC. for once!  We got to pick our own groups for a change and then the instructors had the chance to choose who they wanted to ski with. My group was a great deal of fun with Barbie, Connor, Matt Halidu and Pete. Small in number but hilarious!  Chris chose us as his group to instruct for the week – we had the best time cracking jokes all day, especially Mr Halidu with his great sense of humour. We practiced our intermediate parallel turns and skied through bumps. Chris has a habit of making us do speiss turns, where we have to stand still and jump from left to right down the hill – it’s the most tiring and uncoordinated thing to do but nonetheless we saw a great improvement in everyone’s jumps by the end.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were spent practising our teaching, skiing short turns, bumps, snow ploughing and intermediate parallels. On Tuesday night I went to the waterslides with Kirstin and enjoyed relaxing in the hot tub for the first time on this trip. It was so much fun going down the slides and by the end we had the biggest smiles on our faces. Wednesday afternoon was a new experience for everyone – the ice wall at the hostel!  It takes some time for the ice to build up on the frame so it’s strong enough and when it is, they open it up for people to use. This time we had pro-climbers come specially to show we SnowSkoolers how to do it and introduce us to something none of us thought we would ever do in our life. Two people were able to climb at once which made it a lot of fun. Goggles were a must due to the amount of ice that some people were kicking off! I had a great deal of fun especially considering I’m not a big fan of heights! My arms were killing by the end but it was definitely worth it.

Friday brought the fresh tracks to the mountain!! Our instructors decided to let us have a powder day full of free skiing through the trees and exploring the mountain for drops and jumps. It was awesome! The temperature was 2oC – above zero for the first time this season, which was such a good change. Our group had a great day with Chris and it was the best way to end a long week. Once everyone was back at the hostel and had eaten dinner, our superhero costumes came out for the themed karaoke night in the Storm Cellar and there certainly were some creative ideas between us all! The Cellar was packed and karaoke went off – everyone got up there at some point during the night which made the atmosphere great fun.

That was it for the week. Next week will be our last week of training with the SnowSkool instructors before Level 2 exams commence. Fingers crossed for everyone going for their Level 2!

For more information on future scholarship programmes, click HERE

 

This week in Banff has been a very relaxing one. It was our first week off in 8 weeks! Let’s just say I spent it regaining my energy and catching up with people from back home. The highlights of this week were shredding the powder on Monday, sleeping in on Tuesday, Wednesday AND Thursday, and learning to snowboard on Friday – not to mention the Jersey Shore themed night in the Storm Cellar.

Last week’s cold temperatures left us with no lessons at the end of the week, so to make up for it we had a day’s training on Monday. The snow was dumping and the powder was building up quickly which made for a great day of skiing. This time I had Dom as my instructor, for the first time in the program.  He took us to Wa Wa straight away and headed to the trees for some fresh tracks. It wasn’t all fun and games though as we learnt how to introduce someone to powder skiing for the first time. It’s quite a different stance compared to normal skiing. By the end of a great day skiing however, I was extremely tired! Once the bus drove us home, we had a nice dinner and then headed off to bed.

Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday were spent catching up on sleep, watching movies, shopping, doing my washing, cooking, walking around town and the list of lazy things goes on! I did enjoy a trip into town to watch the Chelsea vs Manchester United match. There were about 13 of us who watched – with only a few Man U supporters. Unfortunately Man U lost and there were triple the amount of smiles in the room for Chelsea’s win!

Friday was a whole different story! Duncan Evans was kind enough to put his new instructing qualifications to the test by teaching me to snowboard. I was lucky enough to borrow Kirstin Lindsay’s snowboard and boots for the day instead of having to hire some.  At first I couldn’t manage to get the hang of it but after 2 or 3 runs I was having the best time! We boarded up Goats Eye, Angel, Divide and Wa Wa – not to mention the terrain park! I didn’t do any jumps obviously but we met up with Tim Sanderson in the park and he showed off his awesome skills. Tim is an amazing skier – he has a lot of guts to pull off the tricks he does. By the end of the day I was wrecked! I had so much fun and a big thanks to Duncan for being such a great teacher!! The end of the afternoon was the beginning of a big night – our Jersey Shore party!  Surprisingly, quite a lot of the guys really got into it and headed into town and to get spray tans during the day. They definitely fit the part well with tight clothes, big hair, lots of makeup, hair gel and sunnies! It was a lot of fun, not to mention the karaoke at the Storm Cellar! If you want to see everyone in their fake tans, take a look on the other Banff Blog for some great pictures!

Level 2 training commences tomorrow and everyone is getting ready for a big couple of weeks. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us all!

Until next week,

Shauna.

 

For more information on future scholarship programmes, click HERE

Week 7 in Banff – but it was hardly a full week as the freezing temperatures limited our activities!

We started off Monday morning by splitting into groups according to who wanted to work on training for their race coach course and those who wanted to focus on their Level 2 course. I got Chris as my coach again this week. The morning was spent doing lots of intermediate parallel turns and slalom turns. The snow was pretty good so Chris took us through the trees a bit as well to mix it up and make it more enjoyable. I left at lunchtime feeling unwell and I went back to the hostel.  I had a long nap which helped a lot but even so, I wasn’t up for playing soccer that night but I heard it was one big game!

On Tuesday, Chris took us to the terrain park for a couple of runs. We worked all our excitement out of the way so we could give our full attention to short turns. We skied down the run Divide which proved quite a challenge. After lunch, Chris did some video analysis of us doing three different types of turns and because it was quite cold, we went inside for and watched the videos of us all. It really helps when you can see what you need to improve on!

Wednesday was FREEZING cold at -27 degrees C! We only managed to do a few runs before heading inside to warm up. We went back out and did some one-ski skiing for a while but this drill did not keep us any warmer so Chris just let us go to lunch earlier than usual. The food was warm and yummy as always but the temperature outside got even cooler so we decided to head to the ODD cabin to watch some World Cup DVDs and talk to Casey, a Level 4 ski and race coach, about our race coach course next week. He is extremely experienced so it was really helpful chatting to him. Despite the cold weather, however, the night racing in Norquay went ahead as usual – Fraser and I were the only ones who went up because the others had injuries or couldn’t bear the cold! This week, it was slalom. The course was good but quite a few gates were snapped by those extra fast men! It was hard racing slalom without my proper slalom skis but I managed to make it down safely.

The rest of the week was very quiet because the lifts couldn’t open due to the low temps of -35 degrees C.  I spent Thursday and Friday in the hostel catching up on my washing and emails but Friday night was a great deal of fun! Most SnowSkoolers caught a bus into Calgary to watch the ice hockey match, Flames vs Sharks! The traffic was really bad though so we missed the first 20 mins of the game which included 1 goal and a fight! After getting off the bus and walking the rest of the way, we finally made it to the arena. It was huge! The place was packed with Calgary Flames supporters. I think I saw a maximum of seven Shark supporters the whole time. I had never been to an ice hockey match before, and wow, was it an experience! I think there were more fights between the fans than there were on the ice but it didn’t make the game any less exciting! It was a disappointing end to the night though when the Sharks won the penalty shoot out. However, it didn’t dampen anyone’s mood and we were all very lively on the bus trip home.

I had a great time this week despite the cold! I can’t believe we are almost finished with the trip. Only a few more weeks left and then I will be heading back to Australia. Level 2 is starting to kick in so everyone is going to be a lot more focused in the coming weeks!

Ciao for now from Banff

Shauna

For more information on future scholarship programmes, click HERE

Here we are again with another fantastic week in Banff!   Week 6 has been one of the most enjoyable weeks so far.   We gathered back on the mountain on Tuesday to commence our Level 2 training.   We were put into random groups and this week, I had Chris as my instructor and in my group were Matt, Jake, Adam, Tom, Mel and Mike.   It was such a fun group!   There had been a huge dump of snow overnight so Chris let us do lots of powder skiing all day.   Our race coach course is coming up soon so we focused a bit on carving and slalom turns – a mix of free skiing and going fast was the best way to spend the day!  After the long day I was so tired I decided to just relax and watch a movie.

Wednesday was great too with snow dumping down ALL day.  We started by going to the ODD cabin and watching a video about how to tune skis.  It had been made by legendary instructor Doug and I have never seen something so funny! During the video Bode Millar ‘called’ Doug to ask him for a race tune.   Absolutely hilarious.   After the video Chris took us tree skiing and we played the game Cat and Mouse where someone has to follow the other person right on their ski tails through the trees.   It was so much fun watching everyone falling over in the powder and nearly losing control.    Mike had a moment of life and death after following Adam down a run!  Tom Kershaw had a nice face plant into the powder and lost his skis, meanwhile I was chasing Matt Halidu down the mountain.  After lunch Chris took us to the terrain park and we worked on stance and balance while doing tricks.  He taught us how to do 180’s and land them perfectly.  I was exhausted after two days of fun but hard skiing.   However, I had to suck it up and keep skiing because the weeklyNorquay races were on again.  We had one new SnowSkooler, James, join our race crew, and the course was a lot tighter than usual.   A few of us had some trouble getting around the gates but it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits!  It was a whole lot of fun and everyone was smiling by the end.

Thursday was freezing but the visibility was a great deal better than Wednesday, which made the cold bearable!  Chris had us working on our speed control when doing slalom turns and our morning lasted a lot longer than usual because we were all having such a good time skiing.  The snow was just so nice! We went back to the terrain park after lunch to see if what we learnt yesterday stuck!  And with the run Goat’s Eye in perfect condition for carving and going fast, Chris said we would have a tucking race!  Everyone lined up next to each other and we all had to tuck down to where Chris was standing.  It built up a lot of confidence for everyone and we all got used to going fast, which is going to help with our race coaching course.  It was a very tiring day and as soon as I got home I went to sleep to regain my energy.

The morning of Friday was a chilly one but luckily, the sun was out and the skies were blue to make up for it.  We went over to Wa Wa for a day of slalom training.  One of the coaches had set up a course with brushes and stubbies for us to use.  It was just like a real course but without the big gates.  No one had really done a course before so it was good fun to watch everyone enjoy it and rip it up!  Chris got us playing Cat and Mouse down the course so we had to try and catch the skier in front.  There was a “Mission Impossible” course set up as well – this was a course with brushes set up in a straight line down the hill but the width between each brush got shorter and shorter as the course went on.  No one could finish it properly, hence its name!

Once the day was over all SnowSkoolers got their paint on for a fun night in the Storm Cellar.  With the theme ‘Full Moon Party’, we were all dressed in shorts and singlets, with UV paint supplied so we glowed all night.  It was such a fun night – the perfect way to end the best week so far.

Shauna

For more information on future scholarship programmes, click HERE

We are nearly half way through the course and I still can’t figure out if it’s going by slowly or too fast! The amount of fun we are all having on and off the slopes is incredible. The end of Week 5 was extremely exciting and sad at the same time. We finished our exams and passed our Level 1 but had to say goodbye to the Aussie girls Elly Benson and Glenn Wilson. These two girls were my roommates and will be missed like crazy. The amount of memories we have made is unthinkable and we’re going to be friends for life. It’s only been just over a month since we started the course and I never imagined how hard it would be saying goodbye after such a short time.

The week began with us taking Monday off to revise for our exams. We had to get up early on Tuesday (try 6:45am!) with the bus departing for Sunshine at 8am. When we arrived we all gathered into a large group with we SnowSkoolers joined by some new faces who were also taking their exams. The examiners took us for a warm up run because the temperature was (yet again) – 25o C and then we all met up in the ODD (large cabin on the hill) for a brief talk about what we could expect for the next couple of days. We met the examiners individually and then were sorted into random groups. I was lucky to be put in a group with four other SnowSkoolers. Our first tester was Andrew, a skier with 15 years of instructing experience. We spent much of the morning focusing on balance and after a long lunch with the new people who were in our group, we headed back out and did some boot skiing! This helped everyone with leaning forward and keeping balanced. It was great fun watching everyone fall over but we all got the hang of it by the end. The day went so quickly and within no time it was already 4.00pm and done for the day. It was definitely not a daunting experience!  After dinner that night a few of us joined in for the weekly trivia and my team ended up placing third.

Wednesday was the second day of exams for all skiers. It was another very cold and windy day unfortunately and the drills we were doing didn’t make it any better! Andrew assessed us on snow ploughs ALL morning. We learnt the mobility, sliding, stopping, turning and linking phases of a snow plough. This took a lot of patience as it was extremely slow and cold! Luckily, after lunch we skied some intermediate parallel and warmed up a lot more quickly than in the morning. By the end of what was an extremely productive day, we all knew how to teach a beginner from the very start. The night took us back to Norquay for another GS race. Our crew was a bit bigger this time with Rob Winsley and Joey Jordan joining the team. The course was different to last week with more sneaky sharp turns which were throwing out a lot people – I nearly came out of the course on gate 4! This shows how important it is to take a course inspection so you know what is coming at you fast. Fraser showed off his very tight (new) race suit which he just loves. He knocked off a couple of seconds from last week which was great. We all had another fab night on the slopes with large amounts of encouragement and support for one another. Hopefully next week will bring more SnowSkoolers!

Half way through exam week – Thursday had seem to come so quickly. The whole morning was spent in the ODD revising a heap of theory on snow ploughs and teaching beginners. We watched multiple videos and filled out our booklets. After lunch we swapped instructors and our new one was a man named Charlie. He was a great examiner! I felt I learnt so much in such a short amount of time as we focused on the aspects of teaching all day. Charlie taught us how to upload and unload chairlifts for beginners. It’s surprising how many stages there are to it! One of our drills was to get into pairs and one person would pretend to be an 8 year old child and the other person would be the instructor. Connor and I had a so much fun doing this as we invented some childish games which we called ‘Airplane’ and ‘Chocolate’. Great fun for little kids! After dinner a few of us went into town for some shopping time as we needed to buy our geek/nerd outfits for the karaoke party on Friday night.

Finally it’s Friday, the final day of our Level 1 exams. Everyone was pretty nervous in the morning because we didn’t know what to expect. Charlie took us to the run Wa Wa and I volunteered with another SnowSkooler to be the first instructors of the morning. We split the group into two and both of us took one half. We had to pretend that our groups had never done intermediate parallel turns before. I started off by talking to the group and explaining what I was about to show them, then I did a demonstration and sent each person down individually and assessed what I thought they needed to improve on. Charlie helped me with figuring out what was positive and negative about their runs. I then had to pick one drill that could help fix all the group’s individual problems! That was a tough one but I chose one, then demonstrated it to the group and watched them come down again. It was a successful lesson for both instructors. After a few runs on Wa Wa, Charlie took us to an easier run and the others in the group had to be the instructors and teach snow plough turns to everyone.

The day seemed to drag on for hours but eventually it was 2:30pm and everyone finished up and skied down to the bottom of the gondola where we waited anxiously for our results. After about an hour and half of waiting we finally got called into our groups with our conductors and were given our results.  99% of SnowSkoolers passed! It was a great feeling of relief and accomplishment for everyone.  The bus ride home was very entertaining with most of the boys singing out loud to everyone. After a big dinner we all got our geeky costumes on and prepared for a big night of celebrations! The karaoke was as fun as always with lots of participation from everyone.

This week was a big step in everyone’s lives as we gained official instructing qualifications! Bring on Level 2 next week!

Shauna

For more information on future scholarship programmes, click HERE

Hello again from Banff at the end of Week 4 – just in time for the start of our Level 1 exams.  Yikes!

As we woke up early on Monday morning, we checked the forecast for the day as usual:  minus 30 degrees C with a chance of wind chill to minus 44 degrees C!  Not the best thing to wake up to!   Despite the horrible forecast, most SnowSkoolers rugged up and got on the bus to Sunshine for a chilly day to start another week with new instructor and group of students. I was meant to be put with the instructor Dom this week but he was off doing a Level 4 instructors’ course which left our group with a woman named Sophie, a very experienced skier who loves skiing back country and moguls! We focused on our intermediate parallel turns with a big focus pivoting drills. After a long day I decided to go to the gym with some others and sign up for a month’s membership. It didn’t occur to me until too late that I was playing in the soccer competition afterwards so I did a lot of cardio. After a day of skiing, an hour at the gym and an hour playing soccer, I was pretty wrecked. However, the soccer was still a lot of fun – I was the only girl in the comp that night which made it a bit more scary. All the boys played so well and by the end of the night I had slowly got the hang of it.

Tuesday was another perfect day with blue skies. It was a bit cold but nothing compared to yesterday. Sophie kept us working on our pivoting all day to perfect it. After lunch, we did some videoing and analysis and then focused more on teaching others to ski. I was with Alex and Johnny and they got to be instructors and help fix my pivoting issues! By the end of the afternoon we had all given it a shot and seemed pretty confident in teaching for our Level 1 exam next week. After dinner that night I went into town to get my skis tuned for a race in Norquay on Wednesday. I bumped into everyone celebrating Alex’s birthday and decided to stay for a while.

The weather was really warm on Wednesday on another bright blue bird day. In the morning we worked on being teachers and students again. At lunch the snow was too good to waste so James and I went out for a couple of fast runs while everyone was still eating. I came home and had an early dinner with Sam, Peter and Fraser so we could head up to Norquay by 6:15pm. Chris, the instructor, was kind enough to give us a lift up there and a lot of encouragement once the races began. It was a great night and everyone finished with a huge smile on their face. I had quite a few bruises to show off after the night – hitting those gates really hurts! There was a lucky bib draw afterwards and a few of us won some t-shirts and beanies. The night was so much fun and hopefully more SnowSkoolers will come and join in on it next week. Jam night was on in the Storm Cellar when we got home but I was so tired I left pretty early and went to bed for a goodnight’s sleep.

On Thursday we had another new instructor because Sophie was completing a first aid course.  Nathalie made us focus on the beginner side of teaching. We did one run then went to the magic carpet to learn how to buckle up ski boots and how to teach a beginner from the very start!  The cold temperature was made more noticeable because we weren’t really moving around a lot. For dinner I met up with some family friends and they took me to the Fairmont which is a huge castle hotel in Banff. It was amazing! We then went out to Tony Romas for some yummy ribs.

On Friday it was dumping with thick snow when we arrived at the mountain which made us all excited. Nathalie took us free skiing through the trees on Wa Wa and we found some great powder. We did some more videoing of our intermediate parallel turns and then went in for lunch, after which we went to Goats Eye and got paired up. One person was the leader and the other had to follow right on their tail and copy everything they did. We went over moguls, through trees, over jumps and down steep runs. Lots of fun for everyone but it was so tiring trying to keep up! Nathalie made us do some synchronized skiing as a big group afterwards. At first we were all out of time with each other but by the end we had fully perfected it. That night we had some great burgers for dinner which were SO satisfying. It was karaoke in the Storm Cellar plus Peter Widdup’s birthday which turned out to be a funny mix! Peter was up on stage singing a duet of Summer Lovin’ from Grease. It was hilarious. Karaoke is always a blast!

I had a another great week with everyone and next week will hopefully go well. Fingers crossed for our Level 1 exam!

Shauna

For more information on future scholarship programmes, click HERE

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