Day 21 – Last Day of 2008 @ Grouse Mountain

This morning started out with high winds so the chair was not open to the public until 10 am.

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Canceled Morning lessons due to High Wind

We all stood around the base waiting to hear whether the Tram will be open or not.  Some of the Instructors started shoveling and salting the ice on the ground.  Lots of customers decided not to wait and went home instead.

Instructors Shoveling

Great Team Effort !!

Instructors Shoveling

The staffs got to the top of the mountain right before 10 am, it was the most amazing view I have ever seen.

Grouse Mountain - The Cut @ 10 am December 31, 2008

Beautiful Scenery from the Tram

Grouse Mountain - The Cut @ 10 am December 31, 2008

Grouse Mountain @ 10 am December 31, 2008

Ally and Eileen

After the general public started getting on the mountain and the staffs finished setting up the signs, we decided to go for a run.  Since most of the general public went home instead of waited for the tram to open, the mountain was pretty empty the whole morning even though the tram was open to the public.

Fresh Tracks at Grouse Mountain

My friends and I went out and rode around for 2 hours.  We did the green run, the blue runs, and then the black and the double black diamond runs.  When we went down Purgatory (Double Black Diamond Run), the powder was so deep my friend C. decided to go for a big jump (see video).

Purgatory @ Grouse Mountain (Scott & Chrystal in the photo)

C. got really big air then landed right before a tree and banged her forehand on the tree.  Her forehead was pretty swollen afterward.  She also lost her goggles so we had to stop to look for it in the deep powder.

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Half way down purgatory, we decided to cut to the left to see what Outer Limit was like.  When we got down to the bottom of Outer Limits we saw beautiful untouched powder in the trees on the other side of the cattrack.  It was not roped off so we know the fresh powder in the trees is still considered inbound and there probably won’t be any avalanche danger.  We decided to go for it and it was amazing. We got to a part where the trees were too dense to board in and realized the only way back to the chair lift was to hike out.  My friends had one foot out and tried to skate out.  I made the mistake of taking off my board and stepping into the snow.  I sunk to my waist in the powder.  It took awhile to climb back onto my board and eventually climb back to the trails that led to the chair lift.

Grouse Mountain Snowboard Instructor teaching

Grouse Mountain Snowboard Instructor teaching against the beautiful backdrop of Vancouver

Grouse Mountain Snowboard Instructor teaching

Grouse Mountain Snowboard Instructor teaching

Grouse Mountain Snowboard Instructor teaching

Grouse Mountain Snowboard Instructor teaching

Grouse Mountain Snowboard Instructor teaching

Grouse Mountain Staff got onto the cover of the newspaper

My friend got onto the cover of a newspaper.

Pikachu visiting Grouse Mountain

and finally, Pikachu came for a visit of Grouse Mountain.

Day 20 – Singles?

We had another big dump of snow overnight at Grouse Mountain so the Cut, Centennial, and the Peak was amazing though the fog was so dense that we were only able to see a few feet in front of us.  At one point I couldn’t even see the snow underneath my snowboard so I had to guess whether I was going uphill or downhill next.  Last year when the fog was this dense in mid March, I took a wrong turn on my last run and went back to Olympic instead of the Gondola ending up to be the last few riders on the mountain (which was a bit scary).

I went into the singles line at the chair lift today because the group line was half an hour long.  I joined a pair of girls in the groups line with the teenager behind me from the singles line to form a group of four for the quad chair.  The 2 girls asked us “singles?”  The teenager behind me said “yeah…” then he paused, then said “But…I have a girlfriend…”

I finally got to teach a snowboarder how to do tighter turns down a blue run today.  It is quite exciting because I got to ride powder with a student.  At one point when I was on my heelside looking back at my student’s turns while he was following behind me,  I caught an edge and tumbled a few metres down the hill.  Then I heard a little kid saying, “Mom..Look ! an instructor fell…”

When I was teaching skiing a couple of years back, our supervisor told us to fall in front of our students intentionally once in a while so students will see that instuctors are not perfect.  The theory was:  if an experienced skier falls down even after years of training, then it is only natural for a beginner skier to fall.

Day 19 – Carving Turns

This morning we got 11 cm of new snow and was -3 Celsius, which is quite warm considering how cold it was a week ago.  We got to the top and found out that there were so much fresh stuff to ride on.  I got my first level 4 lesson today for this season.  I was excited at first because level 4 means blue runs and powder!! but it turned out my student wanted to learn how to carve.  I was the only CASI 2 instructor there so I had to take the lesson and skip the powder.  My student was an experienced skier from Philadelphia.  He said that the mountain he skis on during the winter are all man-made snow at about 5 degrees Celsius.  The man-made snow he skis on are usually pretty icy so he got really good at carving on skis, and today he wanted to learn how to carve with his snowboard.  Since I had my bindings set to the back to ride the amazing powder condition, I had to spend a few minutes readjusting my bindings back to equal distance from the center so I can show a proper carving technique.  Man, is it tough to adjust bindings when I couldn’t even feel my fingers, let alone trying to fit the screws into the holes on my board.

We started the day off with “pee” and “poo”, an exercise to keep the back vertical while getting on edge with the board.  That reminded me of what was taught in my evaluator’s precourse last year about different terms to use for different students.  I would definitely phrase the exercise differently if I was teaching kids, and in another way if I was teaching teenagers.   The fog became really dense half way through so it was hard for me to demonstrate so I had him followed behind me while giving him tips after every few turns.

My second lesson was with a student from Switzerland who speaks Italian.  It was interesting because a few days ago I just hung out with 2 girls from Switzerland that spoke only Swiss German.  My student tried snowboarding once 10 years ago and has been skiing ever since.  On her first run down the hill on a snowboard in 10 years she was already turning both on her heelside and toeside without falling down.  We only had to work on a few minor issues with her posture before she was riding with confidence again.  There was a city-wide power outage so we had to end our lesson early.

Day 18 – Two Screws

It was a great day today because I got to teach 6 hours of snowboarding.  3 lessons back to back.

I am finally feeling better after sleeping about 11 hours last night.  My day started with a beginners’ lesson on Paradise Bowl with a few adults.  The snow is quite wet today because of the rain so it was easy to teach on.  My second lesson was with a kid from Edingburgh who has snowboarded 3 years on dryslopes but has never seen real snow until today.  He was having a hard time turning because he was taught differently on dry slopes.  After a few suggestions on his upper body movement, he started turning both ways and became really excited after the lesson and told his mom that he likes snowboarding on real snow much more than on dry slopes.  There were a few other teenagers in this lesson.  One of them had a loose binding so I lend her my Rachet for her to screw the binding tighter onto her board.  It turned out that there were only 2 screws in her binding out of the 4 that is supposed to be there.  No wonder she was having trouble controling her board.  The third lesson was with a few kids that love to go fast on their heel edge side slipping but don’t really care about turning too much.  We went down the Cut a few times and I stopped every few minutes and help each of them individually learning how to turn.  After each 15 minute session of learning how to turn they would get excited because we would go for 5 minutes of free riding in which I expected them to practice their turns.  The students, however, just stay on their heel edge and side slip the whole way with great speed without any traversing.  That’s the technique that they are good at so that’s what they enjoy.  A few of the kids did manage to do a few turns on their own near the end of their lesson, but they still prefered side slipping on their heel edge straight down the run.

Day 13 – “Why are you teaching in the middle of the trail?”

There were a ton of snow that fell over night, the Mountain Safety Crew were busy digging out a path to the Chalet and a bulldozer came to help too.

Mountain Safety Crew Shoveling Grouse Chalet Roof

It was another busy day of lessons for sure.  Since the hill just opened not too long ago, many are taking lessons to refresh their skills or to learn a new sport all together.  As I ride around the paradise bowl with my camera, I saw many tourists walking up and down paradise bowl taking pictures as well as many parents standing next to their kids while the kids take lessons.  I don’t know if it is a good thing or not for tourist / parents to share an area with skiers / snowboarders.  At Cypress the parents stand behind a fenced off area next to the “Easy Rider” Chair.  At Whistler, the beginners take the gondola up to an area where parents and tourists are not allowed to go.

Parents watching kids take lessons.

When I was teaching at Paradise Bowl, I saw a skier and her kid came down the hill really fast yelling at me.  She stopped and protested “Why are you teaching in the middle of the trail?”.  First of all, why is she skiing fast at a bunny hill filled with beginners and tourists?  Second of all, why is she yelling at me? maybe she is having a bad day and I was the first staff she saw.  Since I was trained to provide great customer service,  I smiled and explained to her this is the bunny hill meant for beginners and lessons, and I pointed her in the direction of the green run.

skier coming down fast on Paradise

teaching beginners

Busy Paradise

Teaching Beginners

Day 12 – Busy Day at Grouse

Day 11 – Coldest Day of the Year (Cypress = -20 ºC / -4 ºF)

Considering this is my last day to freeride at Cypress Mountain before the busy Christmas season begins, I decided to go up bright and early.  I did not expect how cold it was going to get.  I thought yesterday was cold, today was just freezing.  It was -20 ºC / -4 ºF at the base today.  It must have been even colder up top.  Even though I was wearing 2 neck warmers, I still could not feel my chin.  My chin was completely numb.  I had to go in and warm up after only an hour on the snow. both my batteries died within the hour even though they were both fully charged this morning.  Tomorrow I will start working everyday until the end of Christmas holidays.

I did, however, take a video of the terrain park, there were a lot more features in the park today, about 8 of them as oppose to 4. click on the video below to play it.

Day 10 – Sunny and Cold (-12 ºC / 10.4 ºF)

This morning as I was driving through Stanley Park, I saw that there were still so much snow on the trees and on the grass because of the cold temperature we’ve been having

Driving through Stanley Park (Dec 18, 2008)

I went to check out Cypress Mountain Cross Country Ski Area today before heading up for some snowboarding.  I figured I would take some photos of the area because of the beautiful Sunny temperature we’ve been having.  It is interesting to see how these fences were reinforced.  It must have been the result of yesterday’s strong winds.

Reinforce Fencing

The cross country ski area was chopping down a big tree today…maybe for firewood because of Recession?

Cypress Mountain - Chop Down Tree in XC

Cypress Mountain - Chop Down Tree in XC

Below are some photos I took of instructors teaching a class at the bottom of the Collins on Cypress Mountain.  If you look behind the snowboarders, there’s lots of plants showing through the snow.  For the last few years, there were enough snow to cover all those trees and shrubs before the first lesson has even been taught.  This year, however, the Black runs in the background of this picture are still closed.

Collins

Cypress Mountain - Collins

Some skiers, however, still venture into the out-of-bounds area in search of powder.  I am not sure if it is worth it to wreck your $1000 skis to enjoy a few minutes of powder with trees sticking out everywhere.

Cypress Mountain - Out-of-Bounds

It has been a good day, only 2 more days until my teaching starts.  Riding at Cypress Mountain again today.  the Terrain Park Staffs were working hard on the rails and setting up new funboxes.  There was supposed to be a Store Wars competition at Cypress tomorrow, but it has been moved because there simply was not enough snow.

Cypress Mountain - Terrain Park

Cypress Mountain - Chop Down Tree in XC

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Cypress Mounatin Terrain Park Staffs - Prep for Store Wars

Cypress Mounatin Terrain Park Staffs - Prep for Store Wars

Cypress Mounatin Terrain Park Staffs - Prep for Store Wars

Finally, below is a pic of the Mountain I am teaching at this year.  It is located in the middle right side where the lights are.

Grouse Mountain - Lights


Day 9 – Vancouver Snowfall

Our Second Snow fall of the season came overnight and covered the city with half a foot of the white stuff.  As most Vancourites are not good at driving in the snow, the traffic was horrible.  An hour journey up to the ski resort took nearly 2.5 hours today.   Accidents were happening all over the city as I read twitters from many Vancouverites.  Tires were spinning, cars were sliding to the curb, and lots of people were getting stuck.  Nevertheless, for the ski resorts, it is heaven on earth; 2 foot of fresh powder plus a few inches overnight.  It was like snowboarding on untouched powder after each chair lift ride up.

December 17, 2008 Big Snowstorm in Vancouver

Since Cypress Mountain opens for Night Skiing today, I decided to check it out after work.  The Snow was just amazing, Cypress is a much bigger mountain (well…2 mountains – Black Mountain and Mount Strachan) than Grouse so there were a lot more powder to be had during the big snow storms.  I met up with my friends Markus and Jen and rode from 5pm-9pm.  The line ups were not too long (about 5-10 minutes).  It was -12 degrees so the snow was very dry.  The usual jumps were still there.  We were doing big jumps all night long and the powder totally cushioned our fall.  It was really windy at the beginning of the night.  On our way up Eagle Express chair, the chair lift suddenly stopped (for about 10 minutes).  My friends and I started discussing the Whistler Gondola Accident from Yesterday.  Even with the accident, snow lovers will continue to head to Whistler.

Paul Romein has an excellent video of the opening night on his blog (source: Paul Romain – First Day of Night Boarding).

A few days ago, I asked the question why some snowboarders wear dark or neutral color jackets, and some wear bright color jackets.  My friend Markus gave me a good answer to it because he had been thinking about it for awhile before purchasing his new Snowboard jacket last night.  He said that most people who snowboards does it once or twice a season, they want a jacket that they can wear on and off the hill.  They want a jacket that they can wear to work or to school and not stand out too much.   For myself, I spend 1/3 of the year on snow, a dedicated snowboard jacket is essential.

Day 8 – Fencing

Today there’s no customers so I have been fencing and shoveling all day, thinking about how bamboo poles relate to snowboarding – Rails, of course, that’s what beginners practice on… this is a drawing I made up tonight of me  day dreaming at work.  Back when I was a beginner snowboarder, I remember watching a how-to video on how to do 50-50’s on rails. The rider in the video put a bamboo pole flat on the snow and rode with his base flat on to the bamboo pole until he is comfortable, then he moved on to fun boxes.  My board is in the shop at the moment getting waxed, base grinded, and edges sharpened.  Hopefully it will be ready tomorrow in time for the fresh snow that is coming

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