Yes, it’s that time of the week again – no, not the airing of the latest episode of Jonathan Creek – it’s the Banff newsletter! We’ve got the inside scoop on all the goings-on from slap bang in the middle of the Rockies. Week 7 (7! Already!) saw the gang back in lessons for the first time since their Level 1’s, dusting off any cobwebs they’d picked up in the meantime. It was a week of bluebird skies, fast-paced lessons and celebrations, as evidenced in the photos below …
CLICK HERE if you need the photos to open up in a separate window.
Monday was spent mostly recovering from Sunday’s escapades. As the last night out before lessons kicked off again, almost everyone got stuck into Sunday’s pub-crawl. Charlie didn’t have the best of nights though as an accidental bump into an easily-angered stranger on Sasquatch’s dance floor led to him being doused in a stein’s worth of energy drink cocktail. Not exactly minty fresh! Callum, the party animal that he is, turned up to breakfast after virtually no sleep but was keen and ready to hit the slopes. His good intentions weren’t enough to keep him up the mountain however, as he was snoozing in the base station by 10.00am and on the bus back to Banff by noon! Probably for the best but can’t blame a guy for trying. Those who stayed up on the mountain were treated to a delightfully quiet day after the crowds of last week had disappeared. The blazing blue sky was slightly deceiving as it was pretty chilly out, but that didn’t stop Oscar and his family getting a few runs in. ‘Cold Toes’ Tom also spent the afternoon riding with his mum. Over in the park, Aussie James, David W and Danny were doing laps before heading over to Eagle Creek, a fun, narrow, bumpy black that winds its way down from the Goat’s Eye chair.
Last week we left you with the news that Pippa was facing surgery on her thumb. We can now happily report that after a consultation with the surgeon, the diagnosis was downgraded to a sprain, for which surgery wasn’t required – bit of a difference in the two diagnoses, huh? She even got the all-clear to get back on skis as long as she took it easy. This great news means that she’ll be able to hitchhike, participate in thumb wars and dish out the thumbs-up signal willy-nilly in no time!
As Tuesday was the first day back in lessons, and the 7.15am breakfast call came of a bit of a shock to some, we made an occasion of it and treated the guys to some gourmet muffins at breakfast. Unfortunately not everyone was able to jump on the bus up to Sunshine. Aussie James paid for his cold day on the slopes yesterday with what looked to be a patch of frostbite on his big toe. A quick trip to the doctor confirmed it, which means he’ll have to spend at least the next week out of his ski boots and off the slopes. Fingers crossed it heals up quickly and he can get back into lessons long enough to give Level 2 a reasonable shot.
Up on the mountain, we were served up another crisp bluebird day and by all accounts, everyone really enjoyed getting stuck back into the instruction. Many commented on how nice it was to have some structure back after a week of free skiing and to be told exactly what they were doing wrong, rather than relying on educated guesses. Snowboarder Matt took his group straight to the park, which is a great place for them to develop the balance and board control required for their Level 2. The instructors wasted no time in getting things off the ground with a bang. Sophie and Chris taught their groups how to carve correctly, which on this occasion essentially meant that they received a bit of instruction, and then ripped around the mountain as fast as they could! Dom filmed his group and then played it back to them, pausing the video at specific moments and comparing their stance to those of the recent Olympic champions in Sochi! Can’t say we don’t set high standards here at SnowSkool. In the afternoon, many of the groups made their way over to Goat’s Eye Mountain and focused on the trees and bumps it has to offer. Jesse, who was standing in for Matt, taught his boarders the importance of maintaining contact between their board and the snow when riding bumps, for maximum control and stability. The guys returned home tired after a long day of riding but in a buoyant mood, especially Alex who was really excited about re-starting lessons after her long time out through frostbite. It’s great to have her back in the mix and to see her getting so much enjoyment from being back on the slopes.
On Wednesday evening, we took up our usual spot at the Banff Centre sports hall but we switched up activities with a game of basketball. The blue team consisted of SnowSkool David, Clayton, Sam and Rich while the reds were made up of SnowSkool Tom, Gregg, Mike H, Karaoke Tom and Tom Steely T. The blues charged in front from the tip-off and Clayton’s basketball skills from playing back home in the States shone through (hhmm … maybe we should see how good he is at cricket?) SnowSkool David also proved pretty quick-footed with ball in hand and Sam’s rapid turns won their team lots of ground time and again. The reds weren’t to be a walk-over though and in the final 10 minutes, they closed the double-figure gap that had been growing since the first whistle, thanks to some first class passing and hoops from Karaoke Tom and Steely T, plus a delightful three-pointer from Gregg which scored nothing but net. With two minutes to go, the blues surged ahead (well … by one point) but it wasn’t to last. A ‘next goal wins’ situation was on the cards and Clayton steamed down the court and handed the ball off to David who saw in the two points for a red victory. The title of MVP had Clayton’s name all over it, but props to everyone else for the barnstorming efforts all round.
The next morning, some ominous-looking clouds replaced the blues skies of the past few days. Even though the morning’s visibility was sacrificed, the clouds brought with them a fluttering of snow with more predicted for the evening. Due to some major accidents occurring on various runs (thankfully, not to any Skoolers), both Wolverine and Jackrabbit chairs were closed until after lunch, by which point some of the clouds had cleared and the sun was fighting through in spots. Snowboard instructor Matt took his group to the park to focus on their 180s, first on the rollers and then on the kickers. Meanwhile, a bit higher up the mountain, Sophie was leading her skiers through some steep, tricky terrain while getting them to ski it at an intermediate speed but using expert-level technique. This is harder than it sounds as you haven’t got the momentum at lower speeds to edge quite as easily, so pretty good body and ski control comes into play – can’t fake it at slower speeds!
Friday saw the temperature drop to a nippy -23ºC and everyone was wrapped up warm as they boarded the bus to Sunshine. The morning took on a slightly different structure than usual as before their lessons kicked off at 10am, Colleen the ski school’s Program Director came to the day lodge to talk to the guys about landing employment as instructors. She spoke about her recruitment process, which begins as soon as the season ends, and the best ways to go about landing a job. Many of the Skoolers seem really keen to put their qualifications to use and many were talking about working Downunder in Australia or New Zealand in the southern winter. Out on the hill, much of the day’s focus moved away from technique and onto teaching. Matt told his group of the ‘whole-part-whole’ method that is fairly standard for Level 2. By looking at a student’s whole technique, they then pick a certain aspect that they want to improve on, develop it, and then once it’s been improved upon, they can incorporate it back into their overall riding style. Kaz also gave his guys various scenarios that can crop up, and got them to decide how they’d work around them. His group has also been riding switch this week to improve both their riding and their teaching techniques.
The evening was a time of celebration as Friday marked Kyle’s 19th birthday! His mum had kindly arranged for a hamper of goodies including some beers, a bottle of Jagermeister and some chocolates, which everyone seemed pretty envious of! Later on, a lot of the guys headed to town to celebrate but a few opted for a more relaxing end to their week with Big Ben, Harry, Jack, Steely T and Will heading over to the hot springs to soothe aching muscles after four long days of riding. Olly, who earlier in the day had landed his first 360s (both frontside AND backside), was in town treating himself to a new snowboard setup with the help of Matt who was advising on the best kit to get.
Things got even colder on Saturday with the forecast predicting -39ºC wind chill up on the mountain. The extremely low temperatures combined with the previous night’s trip to the Dancing Sasquatch meant that almost everyone decided to take it easy and stay off their boards and skis. The main event of the day came in the shape of Luke’s stag night. Luke will sadly be leaving us this time next week to get married to his American fiancée, so AJ and a few of the guys thought they’d throw him a stag do before he left. With Luke in a wedding dress the guys had specifically bought him, and Joey wearing a jaunty daffodil hat to mark St. David’s Day, a healthy number of people turned out in the Mary Belle building common room for a few beers before heading to Wild Bill’s to carry on the festive mood.
Like the great sporting clashes of yesteryear – England and Argentina’s 1986 World Cup Semi-Final, the 2005 Ashes, Ali and Foreman’s Rumble in the Jungle – Sunday’s game of dodgeball between the HI hostel staff/Snowskool and the SameSun hostel staff would be one for the history books. An annual game of fancy dress dodgeball is held between the two competing Banff hostels and this year a few of the SnowSkoolers were brought on board for a little extra help. The dress code was ‘tight and bright’ (right up our alley) and we certainly dominated in that department. Richard was sporting a fetching (read: slightly terrifying) morph suit of the human musculoskeletal system and there were bright neon leggings and tops aplenty. Despite our valiant efforts in the fashion department, our game play wasn’t to be quite as impressive and we were thrashed 4 games to 1 by the time the final whistle went. If it hadn’t been for Richard who landed some great shots and sealed our one victory it, would have been a whitewash. Everyone had a great time though, and we came away plotting more dodgeball games for the future, potentially pitting the HI staff against SnowSkool.
Until next time folks, stay classy.
SnowSkool David and SnowSkool Tom
Course Hosts - SnowSkool Banff 2014
Busting to get into some fluoro lycra for your own game of dodgeball? Check out these links: