Posts Tagged ‘snowboard’

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Having attended a snowboard instructor course with SnowSkool during my year out, I enrolled at the University of Leeds and the first thing I did was sign up to the snowsports club. Just before the start of my 4th year, in May 2009, I was elected President of Leeds Snowriders (Leeds University Snowsports Club). The role of the club is to bring together like-minded shred heads and to organise regular trips to the snow.

It’s fair to say that I had underestimated how much time I would have to devote to the club. Running a club of over 1000 members is no easy ride, especially when those members are students who are often drunk…and nude. Fortunately though I had an awesome committee working with me and we had a great year!

Over the course of the year it was great to see a sizeable growth of the club. We took 300 students to Val d’Isère over the Christmas break and 430 students to Val Thorens at Easter (the biggest trip in the club’s history!). Throughout the year we also entered teams into the university freestyle and race competitions and organised heaps of social events. This included the infamous Snowriders ball, at which 250 students descended on a previously quiet hotel, drank way too much wine, had a massive cheesecake fight, and generally disgraced themselves – a pretty successful night in my opinion!

Out of all the events that we ran my personal highlight was organising our end-of-year social, an event that saw over 600 people attend. Complete with live bands and DJs, a half pipe and skate demo in the grounds of the venue. To top it all off we organised a real snow rail jam – in June no less – complete with ski and snowboard demos from the likes of current European X Games bronze medallist skier James “Woodsy” Woods and GB snowboard legend and all round hero Dom Harrington.

All in all my year running the club was both challenging and extremely rewarding at the same time. It required the vast majority of my time when I wasn’t working on my degree but as a result I made some incredible friends and gained some invaluable skills that I wouldn’t have been able to acquire elsewhere.

I would highly recommend getting involved with your university snowsports club. There’s always a super friendly, welcoming atmosphere and it’s a great way to meet like-minded people who share the same passion for anything and everything snow related!

The day had finally arrived – the morning of our Level 2 exams. The sun was shining but not everyone was keen for the  start of a very long and stressful week!  Despite the dread, all of our skiers headed out to the front of Sunshine Village to meet our new test conductors and sort things out. We met at the ODD cabin and were split into 4 groups. Our conductors for the week were Ben, Casey, Kenji and Don – four very experienced Level 4 instructors. I was in a group with Ben. The day took off quickly when Ben had us skiing bumps straight away. The main focus was on being more aggressive and keeping forward the whole time. Everyone had different things to work on and by the end of the day quite a few of us had accomplished those goals.

We swapped course conductors on Tuesday morning so that it was a fair assessment of us. This time I got Casey, who is Technical Director at Sunshine. He was a lot more serious than Ben, which had it’s good and bad moments! Casey got us doing a little bit of teaching but mainly focused on our skiing ability. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were probably the most stressful days of my life!!  The course conductors gave no insight into whether or not you were going to pass so everyone was freaking out. The pressure of Level 2 got to a lot people throughout the week but Friday morning brought some smiles with it – the conductors seemed to be a bit more happy than usual which put everyone more at ease. The snow was in perfect condition and the temperature was nigh on hoody weather! It was the last day of exams and everyone was putting in 100% to make sure their skiing and teaching were up to scratch but it was still non-stop exam pressure until 2pm when we finished. The worst part, however, was the 2 hour wait for results as still no one had any clue as to what their results would be.  As we gathered upstairs after the longest two hours of our lives, we sat in a big group and listened to the conductors announce individually who had successfully completed and passed their CSIA Level 2 exam. Everyone was applauded individually, which made the atmosphere great!  I have never seen so many happy faces at once. We even had a few tears of happiness from the boys (Fraser McGougan) haha. All of the Banff SnowSkoolers should be congratualted for an amazing set of achievements with 100% of the boarders passing and about 97% of the skiers passing!

After a loud a cheerful busride back to the hostel everyone headed straight to the kitchen for fish and chips to celebrate our awesome results! There was karaoke in the Storm Cellar and lots of graduation banners put up for us which got everyone in the best mood. For some it was their last night with SnowSkool as they were getting up early for a long plane trip back home. With only 2 weeks left on the course, we are all starting to fit in as much as we can.  Race coaching course starts on Sunday, followed by the avalanche and back country courses. There is no rest for a lot of SnowSkoolers – we tough it all out!

The SnowSkool course has been an amazing experience and all the weeks of training paid off on Friday afternoon. Fingers crossed for the people completeing courses next week – another badge to add to the collection!!



For more info about the SnowSkool scholarship, click here.


It’s been comparatively quiet this week after all the excitement of the exams.

With all the celebrations on Friday night, it was a tired and sorry bunch who boarded the bus at 9am last Saturday for the trip to Queenstown.  Our first stop was Fergburger, THE best hamburger joint in the world which is busy 24/7. Feeling much brighter, we took a stroll around this picturesque little town which is home to virtually every adrenalin activity ever invented.  Most of the group took the gondola up the hill behind town to not only take in the amazing view but to avail ourselves of the other fun things to do up there.  The luge offers beginner and advanced tracks both of which drop 800 metres from top to bottom.  Armed with a pass for multiple runs, everyone did “lap training” of a different sort, riding the chairlift up with the cart hanging off underneath and then powering down as fast as they could.  To brake was to admit defeat!  Kirk, James and Elliot did the Ledge bungy while the others watched and cheered them on.   Then there was a game of indoor crazy golf before we went our own ways for dinner. We all met back up again in Altitude bar and headed out to hit the town.   Some caught up with an organised pub crawl while others cruised Qtown at their own pace.  It was a late but great night.

We had plenty of time on Sunday morning around town.  Some took a ride on the Shotover jetboat (the original and still the best), others went shopping or downed a serious breakfast.   Peter Ingall admirably got up super early to do the Canyon Swing which he thoroughly enjoyed despite some serious nerves! We all got back to Wanaka mid afternoon and had a quick rest and shower before having dinner at the Wanaka Ale House.

Monday saw Skool resume, this time for Level 2 training.  Groups have been shuffled around again and all spent the day riding and exploring the mountain.  It was an easy day getting back into it after the exams.  On the way home, there was pizza at The Venue before both boarders and skiers headed off to evening class.

Bad visibility and snow showers on Tuesday made riding and skiing quite challenging.  The focus of training shifted from drills and demo practice to improving riding and skiing, which pleased all the students no end.

Freestyle Wednesday took place in really bad vis.  It wasn’t enjoyable for anyone and some who were not involved in the freestyle classes hitched back early to catch up on a few z’s and be well-rested for the pub quiz that night at Bullock Bar.

Mixed weather on Thursday brought with it some sunshine, some cloud, some variable visibility and, in the absence of new snow, some spring conditions.  A few of the students were eagerly awaiting  A-level results so there were a few drinks to calm the nerves and in anticipation of what would hopefully prove to be good results….and indeed they were.   Elliot has been accepted to Cambridge (WTG!) and Becca scored an A* and 2 As for her exams.  Billy and Campbell were still waiting to hear their results.

To see all the fab photos of our antics in Queenstown, look HERE

That’s it from us for the week that was in Wanaka!

What a week!  100% pass rate for SnowSkoolers taking their Level 1 exams in both boarding and skiing.  It doesn’t get any better than that!  But first, back to where we left off last week…

Saturday brought with it poor visibility up on the mountain so most rested up at home for the day, a little the worse for Jake’s birthday celebrations the previous night.  The group had gone on a pub crawl around town dressed in beachwear – despite the chilly weather! – and so some opted for an early night in on Saturday while others went out to HQ to watch the rugby – All Blacks vs Wallabies – and just a few celebratory beers when the local team won.

Everyone rested on Sunday with exams due to start on Monday for boarders and Tuesday for skiers.  Some went to lunch at the Wanaka Ale House, Chris went fishing again (without Freddie this time) and caught a sizeable fish which he is planning to barbeque for the group one day.  Most had their heads in their text books in the afternoon, revising lesson plans and demos.  We all went for dinner at the Thai Siam restaurant and had an early night.

Crunch time!  Andy decided to sit his exam after all as, despite the cast on his arm, he was confident he could still ride and teach OK.  The boarders headed straight into the exam but the skiers had a day of last minute prep and cramming.  The skiers also had college that evening, which was followed by an early night all round.  The first day was finally over and most felt OK about it.

Come Tuesday, everyone was in exam mode.  New and unfamiliar faces appeared in the groups, as did new and unfamiliar trainers and testers.  All groups faced assessment today, mostly looking for improvement through lots of drills and exercises.  It was a tiring day for the muscles so all SnowSkoolers had an early night, happy with their progress.

All the guys felt confident and comfortable with the exam on Wednesday, which featured more improvement drills, some practice teaching and lap training as part of the assessment, followed by another night at the college for the skiers.  There was also a written assignment to complete but once this was done, it was off to the weekly pub quiz at Bullock Bar.

Come Thursday, the day was mostly spent doing practice teaching and demos.  The pressure was on but most students felt confident about their performance.  They were given time slots for their teaching assessment the next day, with excitement in the camp building as the finish line fast approached.  The night was spent with most playing a Mario Kart tournament in Marcus and Vicky’s apartment – a good way to unwind and avoid the nerves kicking in.

And then came the last day –which just had to be Friday 13th!  The students were pretty excited on the way up the hill but there were some very nervous faces as the pressure started to mount. Everyone was scheduled to get their teaching demo all over and done with in the morning so the plan was to spend the afternoon watching the final of the Burton Open slope style.  Unfortunately, this didn’t quite pan out as after lunch, the weather worsened and visibility deteriorated to close to zero.  Plan B saw everyone set up camp in the base building and enjoy some well deserved beers.  Some games were played while waiting for the snowboarders’ results at 3pm and the skiers’ results at 6pm.  Time dragged but it was worth the wait when the snowboarders found out they had all passed and then later on at the Oakridge Resort, the skiers received the same news. Success all round!! Celebrations were big, as were the smiles – check them out HERE

Partying continued into the small hours of the morning and for the whole weekend in fact, as we all headed to Queenstown on Saturday morning…but that’s another story for another newsletter.

Happily, the first part of the mission is accomplished but it all steps up a big gear when training re-commences on Monday with eyes firmly on the prize of the Level 2 qualification.  It’s usually a bit of a let-down at the start of Week 6 but as soon as it dawns just how much work there is still left to do, the group knuckles back down.  In the meantime, we drew breath and enjoyed the moment of glory.  Yay us!


Here we are again at the end of another week in Wanaka – the last week of training before the Level 1 exams next week.

Last weekend started with heavy rain in Wanaka and Cardona closed due to heavy snow and strong winds.  A do-nothing-day was most welcome – the night before had been Jug Fine Friday while the night ahead was the Traffic Light party – people wear a colour based on whether they are on the pull!  Green = available; red = attached; orange = could be persuaded.  Needless to say, most SnowSkoolers went dressed in vibrant green.

Come Sunday, the heavy rain continued and Cardies remained closed.  Hoping for epic powder on Monday, the students amused themselves around town.  Chris and Freddie went fishing but the only thing Freddie caught was himself when he embedded a 3-pronged hook in his finger!!!  You’ll be pleased to hear we left the photo out of the slideshow.  Freddie had to hot-foot it to the medical centre to get the hook removed.  Many went to the cinema to see “Toy Story 3” which proved very popular and in the evening we went to Finchy’s for dinner.  Most had an early night in anticipation of the 30 cm of freshies rumoured to be awaiting us on Monday.

Cardies did re-open with the hoped-for freshies BUT zero visibility made it a very challenging morning.  Winds were still strong so only McDougall’s was operating for the first few hours.  Most spent the morning in the classroom until the rest of the mountain opened up.  Unfortunately, rain turned the fresh snow into slush and on top of this disappointment Dave injured his knee and was told to take 3 days off.  The group was cheered a little by a yummy meal at The Venue on the way home before heading to their college session.

While Tuesday dawned sunny, the slushy snow had frozen over night and left the mountain with 30cm of fresh concrete!  More challenging conditions for the students but it all added to their skills and experience. With the Level 1s looming, all groups worked on teaching and demos and that night headed down to HQ for a game of killer pool, which Matt won.

The snow softened up again so better conditions lay in wait for Freestyle Wednesday.  With a Volkl Competition coming up next weekend, the pros arrived to start practicing, which made for great viewing as they pulled off amazing tricks in the park all day. That night some of the guys went to Bullock Bar for quiz night while the girls headed to Base for a ladies’ night of retail therapy, managing to come away with lots of free goodies and some great advice on gear.

On Thursday, Dave returned to Skool to join in more work on Level 1 skills and teaching demos.  Unfortunately Yours Truly was the next patient at the medical centre with a potentially broken wrist after a fall on the hill. That evening the skiers had some homework to complete and the boarders caught up on some reading from their manuals.

Friday 6 August was Jake’s 18th and the last day of training before the exams. The trainers made it a fun day with lots of skiing and boarding, to take minds off the exams. It wasn’t a good day for Andrew though as he broke his wrist and won’t be able to sit his exams with the others – he’ll wait to sit his Level 1 a week before the L2. There was much celebration for Jake’s birthday on Friday night, leaving plenty of time for recovery before the L1s start on Monday.

Click HERE for more pix of what we’ve been up to.  And join us on a tour of the beautiful town of Wanaka and see our beautiful surrounds.  Thanks again to Kirk and Marcus for sharing some of their great shots.

Until next week!