Welcome to the first newsletter from SnowSkool in Banff for 2015. You'll find us here each week with news of what we've been up to high in the Canadian Rockies, complete with some photos of the gang out and about, going through their moves ...
CLICK HERE if technology is not being your friend and you need to view the photos in a new window.
It all began last Wednesday when the main contingent met at Gatwick Airport at 7:30am. Plenty of introductions to knew friends were followed by goodbyes to the parents, friends and family who had come to farewell the Skoolers. V pleased to report everyone got onto the flight on time without the need for any chasing up and without any lost boarding passes or passports. We think this is something of a record clean-skin start and hopefully, a sign of good things to come!
We landed in Calgary at about 3:30pm and everyone made it straight through customs alright except for Conner, whose (un)lucky number came up and he was pulled aside for a random interview. Slightly nervewracking but all was fine in the end. We were greeted at Calgary airport by SnowSkool Cammy and SnowSkool Anneliese, who escorted us all to the waiting buses for our 90-minute drive to Banff. The sun was setting over the mountains ahead of us on the way up, which made for a great welcome to the legendary Canadian Rockies!
On arrival at the hostel, we met up with the SnowSkoolers - mainly Aussies – who had arrived early. Everyone settled into their rooms before the welcome meeting in the bar, complete with burgers and beers all round. Some of the Skoolers ventured into town for their first night out, hitting the Dancing Sasquatch for bass night. This is where some poor dude makes his living – you guessed it – dancing the night away while dressed up in a sasquatch suit.
At Thursday’s breakfast, a few deer joined us in (well, walked past the window of) the Mary Belle building and it became official - we are a long way from home! After came the welcome meeting where the SnowSkoolers were introduced to the hostel staff and to hosts Snowskooler Cammy, Adam and Anneliese, we all walked down Tunnel Mountain into town where we split the group for a tour of downtown. We then had a meeting with Soul Ski store owners (and Level 4 instructors!) about maintaining gear and what it takes to pass the course. Afterwards, the Skoolers had time to explore Banff for themselves before the evening meal and a round of Canadian-themed trivia. Our team fought valiantly but were beaten by the Canadians – which is probably the way it should have rightlfully ended as we didn't want to upset the locals on the first night!
Friday was our first day on hill, starting with an early breakfast followed by some free time to make sure everyone had their gear ready. Adam and Cam took a bus-load each and we met in Guest Services to grab our season passes, complete with some very awkward smiles now captured for eternity! Then it was straight up the hill to find the snow legs again. After a few runs and plenty of falls, we met up with Technical Director Casey before splitting off with the instructors for the first afternoon of training. We headed home on the bus with some free time before a Mexican dinner of burritos, nachos and salad. It was a fairly quiet evening with most pretty knackered and feeling the jet lag.
Saturday saw most up early and on their way to the hill, super keen to put into practise what they had learnt the previous day. This high level of concentration and effort resulted in another quiet evening again before a few went up the hill again on Sunday. However, the NFL division championship games were on that day (Seahawks vs Packers and Colts vs Patriots) so a pretty big crowd came down to Wild Bill's. Many questions were thrown at SnowSkool Adam (big into NFL) from people trying to learn what is a seriously complex and some say slow game! The manySeahawks fans made for a noisy event and it was a great way to slip into the local scene. Harrison Leigh and Ryan Lawlor really got into it with Harrison even betting a couple of drinks oon the outcome with Colts fan Adam - which Harrison won in the end! Sunday night saw everyone pack it in for an early night in anticipation of the first full week of tuition.
Monday brought an early start, complete with snow falling. Big breakfasts all round! We arrived early enough for a little bit of free time in the 16 cms of fresh powder before lessons – or some serious snowball-throwing. The trainers took advantage of the conditions and explored a few off-piste and tree runs with their new charges.
Come Tuesday, there was still a lot of good new snow around. Will Adams had an amazing bail (yard sale) off a cliff drop but returned to the same place later in the day and nailed the landing the second time. Another day of lessons saw Kenji’s group squatting while skiing (a real leg burner) and Dom’s group skiing with their boots unstrapped. Tuesday evening was the pool competition where Ben Dodd (Big Ben!) eventually came out victorious after knocking out SnowSkool Cammy not once but TWICE!
Wednesday was a bluebird day with awesome groomed runs to practise carving (or edging, as the instructors call it). Snowskool Adam followed Ron’s group through Rogers’ Park where the students were hitting the first two jumps and where we discovered Joshua Tass has an hilarious tendency to give a little wave when he gets up into the air. Definitely a few shoe-ins for future X-Games!!
Thursday started as another good day but clouds came in and viz deteriorated. In the evening there was a Red Bull Rail Jam on Caribou Street in town – a lot of the guys headed down to watch, some even wondering why they didn't enter!
By Friday, many were feeling the tiredness from five days straight on hill, to say nothing of the big time and climate change we’ve all experienced. This made for a more relaxed day of lessons with instructors piecing together everything covered over the week and putting it all together in a solid day of riding/skiing. In the evening we had Canadian-themed karaoke where denim and plaid were a must. It was the perfect night to end a great week. One week down – 11 more awesome weeks to go!
Back next weekend with more news from Banff.
SnowSkool Cammy and SnowSkool Adam
Course Hosts - SnowSkool Banff 2015
Desperate for more info? These links should do the trick: