CASI Snowboard Instructor Course @ Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
06.02.2006 -10 °C
Believe it or not, my first 3 months of my travel adventure has a specific purpose that will hopefully lead to a whole new world of opportunity and adventure, and get me away from the somewhat soul destroying 9-5 of IT corporate life. Yah dudes, I am learning to be a snowboard instructor.
The course, organised by UK company PowderTrip is set in the exhilarating Kicking Horse Mountain Resort which looms over the town of Golden, British Columbia. The course runs for a total of 11 weeks (5th Jan to 24th March) after which I will (hopefully) be accredited with CASI (Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors) level 1 and 2 instructor qualifications. This illustrious title will enable me to teach beginner and intermediate would-be snowboarders anywhere in the world (except for France that is who are typically difficult and insist on their own programme).
The courses has two key aspects. The first and most obvious is the practalities of teaching classes which includes methods of analysis, teaching techniques and exercises, class management etc. In addition, CASI mandates that all instructors are able to ride and demonstrate techniques to a high standard, so naturally we spend a lot of time on personal riding improvement - this has been the focus for the past 4 weeks. In this time my riding has improved way beyond my expectations - I'm now dropping insanely steep chutes, laying out huge powder turns at supersonic speed, razor sharp carved turns on pistes and pulling freestyle moves I'd never thought I'd dial (360's, half cab and backside 180's etc). Who knows where the next 7 weeks will take me.
There are 7 of us on the course in total, meet the crew...
The Skiers: (boo hiss)
Olly A young man from the Malverns with a sharp wit a dry sarcastic humour. His fine grasp of the English language is detoriating much to his displeasure with gnarly's and eh's creeping into his everyday vocab.
Tom Apparently a tennis prodigy from Liverpool, truly the strangest person I have ever met. A sports genious yet seemingly has zero coordination, a qualified sports trainer yet his diet consists entirely of chocolate bars, his cure for tonsilitues was to brush his throat with a toothbrush which resulted not suprisingly in major bleeding and a trip to the doctors (also tried gargling with salt water but drank it instead and threw up everywhere). A pleb indeed.
Don The lead instructor for the skiing fraternity, has his finger firmly rooted in every available pie in Golden, enjoys taking the piss out of us Brits (Tom in particular) - apparently this is what Brits do for fun. A level 4 instructor and coach - truly the don of the ski hill.
Mike A highly educated school teacher from the heart of Yorkshire with a rather worrying obsession with phalice-related humour. Has an uncanny knack of acquiring injuries ranging from a badly twisted ankle to conjuntivitus (a result of a dip in the hot tub with contact lenses still in - not recommended!). Has inherited the ability to seek out deep powder and enjoys exploring these places by diving in head first.
Travis T An all-round sports legend from Ipswich (yet has a South African accent) whose accolades include Motorcross champion and (almost) playing scrum half for England touch rubgy team. Provides a running commentary of everything 24x7, through the eyes of Travis which can be a little annoying, but all round top bloke. Has a no fear approach to everything which sometimes translates into out of control manouevres yet is luckily impervious to pain - has recently walked away from a 15mph + dead stop on a tree stump, and a near Chelsea smile after an encounter with a piste rope.
Matt another bumpkin from the Malverns, friend of Olly. Recently aquired the name (from me atleast) Dyson after an encounter with the driven snow. Recently managed to melt his jacket on a radiator at Fresh Meat Mondays (explanation of this quality night will come). Gonna be a sick rider!
John The maturist of our merry band, from Bromsgrove though thankfully no Brummy accent to get me started. Has a seemingly carefree attitude to the course - more of a holiday than a lifestyle change. Has an insatiable appetite for beer, and has an aptitude beyond human for all pub related games, no coincidence there!
Ryan Our main instructor for the duration. Qualified to instruct and coach up to level 3 and level 2 freestyle. Originally from Ontario, first season in KHMR and like us struggles at times with the awesome terrain and knee deep powder, a stark contrast from the artificial nastiness back home. Likes to buy new kit and not use it tho a recent snap of his trusty steed from a kicker gone wrong has brought out the shiny stick.
Other characters of note:
John PowderTrip director, set things up for us for the first few weeks, now back in the UK. Looking forward to setting up PowderGirls, a new branch of the business, which will be a similar course to this except with 10-20 girls aged 18 to 30 - what a job!
Neil Our chaperone for the rest of the season from PowderTrip, level 2 instructor from Newcastle. Has had some board issues of late but has now thankfully got the right board so can quit his moaning ;o) Neil will be filming our antics here so watch this space (if he ever pulls his finger out and gets them off the damn camcorder).
Trevor All round snowboard legend who runs the Snowboard School here. His technique is absolutely flawless so much so he appears in the CASI training vids. Expecting his first baby any day now so naturally nervous - 40ft cliff drops son't scare this man so this is saying something. Likes to breath fire in his spare time as a means to keep nostril hair in trim
Finally there is Lisa, level 2 instructor, seemingly the object of desire for all males in Golden - she has the grace of feminity yet none of the faff of a girly girly and absolutely shreds the mountain to bits. Like anyone that trys their luck with her romantically, she plays with fire too
So, that's a quick overview of the core crew of my course and what I get up to, hopefully you have a feel for what my days are like now. There's too many people to mention in full here, we're just one big happy family, ah bliss.
My level 1 exams start on Wednesday so with a bit of luck I should be qualified by Friday, oo er, wish me luck!