Day 48 – Jumping and Spinning on Skis

Skier on Cypress Mountain

It’s been almost 2 weeks since my last post, I have been working everyday from 8am to 4pm and then go skiing after work until 10pm.  Although I did take Monday off work just to ski all day in warm sunny condition.  As I am preparing for my CSIA level 1 (Ski Instructor) certification, I’m putting most of my energy into practicing skiing.  I still teach snowboarding and train once a week on snowboards but my focus right now is to get my skiing techniques up to par before the exam.

After practicing on my own for a few weeks, I figure I better take a lesson to make sure I’m on the right track.  As Cypress Mountain offer ski instruction at night (Grouse doesn’t), I naturally came back here for another lesson tonight (Thursday night).  My instructor for tonight is Elias.  He is a CSIA level 3 (Ski), CASI level 2 (Snowboard) instructor.  He has taught at Cypress Mountain for the last 5 years.  He has been skiing and snowboarding for 25 years, and teaching for 18 of those years.  He was a cross country skier before he started alpine skiing.  He has skied and taught in quite a few countries in Europe when he first started teaching.  He has also taught in the United States and skied in South America.

skiing at Grouse Mountain (January 24, 2009)

His vast amount of experience really shown through in his teaching.

My goal for tonight was to learn 3 techniques.

1. learn pivot turns

2. learn spinning on the snow

3. learn to jump off small kickers.

We started the lesson off with him explaining the technical side of pivoting.  He showed me on a blue run how to point my skis down the fall line (really scary), count to three, then pivot until my skis are pointing up hills.  I thought that was scary until he told me to do the same thing backwards.  We then started working on side slipping (like snowboarding), and then falling leaf – forwards and backwards.  It got better after I practiced a few times but the pointing skis down the fall line for 3 seconds is still really scary.

We then went over to Collins (Green run) where he taught me to traverse across the hill until my skis are on the snowbank, then ski backwards until the back of my skis are pointing up the hill again.  We then went on to learn how to do pivot turns backwards and then moved onto spinning on skis without using poles.  It was so encouraging to be taught by a ski instructor who is also a snowboard instructor.  He knows how to relate skiing to snowboarding, explaining in a language I would understand.

The last thing we worked on was our jumps.  We started off with jumping on the snow while we do pivot turns, then we went up on the side banks of Collins where he showed me the different techniques of jumping and worked up to a 180 degree jump.  When we were skiing down the hill, he also pointed out to me what I am doing wrong in my carving and showed me the correct way of doing it and why we do it that way.  It made my carving much more stable.

I would say this is the best ski lesson I have ever had, and I have taken a lot of ski lessons over the years.  Elias was really knowledgeble and could explain the mechnics of skiing simple enough so that a snowboarder like me could understand.  Elias teaches on Thursday nights at Cypress Mountain, I highly recommand taking a lesson with him if you want to become a better skier.

Day 38 – Vancouver appearing through the clouds

Well, it’s been a few days since I last posted.   The conditions on the mountain has been too perfect in the last few days that I’d rather stay on the mountain all day (and all night) than to be at home writing a blog.

January 19, 2009 East Hastings @ Boundary in Burnaby

Burnaby was completely clear and sunny (though a bit chilly) this morning while downtown was still covered in fog.

Vancouver from Cypress Mountain Lookout, January 19, 2009

Vancouver from Cypress Mountain Lookout, January 19, 2009

I could not resist stopping by the Lookout point at Cypress Mountain before going up for some sick riding.  It was amazing ! Yesterday downtown and parts of south Vancouver/Richmond came out of the fog.  Today , even the Lionsgate bridge and many parts of Vancouver came out of  the fog.  It was so beautiful  There was a long line up of cars waiting to park in the Lookout Parking lot.

Photographers on Cypress Mountain Lookout, January 19, 2009

There were so many photographers with big SLRs and huge expensive lenses at the Lookout.  I expect to see lots of Vancouverites posting their photos of today on Flickr and on their Blogs.

January 19 Cypress Mountain

It was a bit cold this morning as expected because the fog / cloud had cleared a bit letting the cold air come up the mountain.  Cypress Mountain became really hot by noon.  It was a warm and beautiful day with soft snow and few skiers/riders on the mountain, but the snow is melting fast.  There were lots of rocks and mud showing in some of the trails, pretty soon, most of the black runs will have to be closed.

Rocks and Mud showing on Cypress Mountain (January 19, 2009)

Like the last few days, there were many people that came up not to ski or play in the snow, but purely for the pleasure of suntanning.

Sitting in Lawn chair admiring the beauty of fog covering Vancouver on Cypress Mountain (January 19, 2009)

Day 34 – Ski Resorts warmer than Vancouver city. (Pictures)

Today it was 13 degrees Celsius on the Mountains while it was 3 degrees in Vancouver.  Most Vancouverites look out the window and see the dense fog and decided the mountains must be worse, so there were no line ups.  It was sunny, warm, the snow was soft, yet there was hardly anyone up on the mountains.  I went snowboarding at Cypress Mountain this afternoon, and then went over to Grouse Mountain for some Night skiing.

January 15 - 9 am Cypress Mountain Road


13 degrees Celsius @ Cypress Mounatin Jan 15, 2008 - while Vancouver is in very dense fog and 3 degrees

13 degrees Celsius @ Cypress Mounatin Jan 15, 2008 – while Vancouver is in very dense fog and 3 degrees

When we were driving up Cypress Mountain, it was really dark and foggy and within seconds it became sunny and clear.  When we came back down it was the same, sunny and clear and we can see a big patch of fog in the middle of the road, it was surreal.  Some described the experience as driving in Jurrassic park.  Looking down at the city from Grouse Mountain really felt like a scene of end of the world from Hell Boy.  We could see city lights through the dense fog blanketing the city.  there were purple and orange patches everywhere within the clouds.  It really felt like Halloween.

13 degrees Celsius @ Cypress Mounatin Jan 15, 2008 - while Vancouver is in very dense fog and 3 degrees

Snowman @ Cypress Mounatin Jan 15, 2008 - while Vancouver is in very dense fog and 3 degrees

beginner school group hiking at sun set

Day 33 – Sunny Day at Cypress Mountain

It was clear, warm, and sunny today at Cypress Mountain.  There wasn’t any crowd so it was a good day for snowboarding.  The snow was hard packed even after the sun shined on it all day.

Beautiful and Sunny at Cypress Mountain (January 14, 2009)

Day 30 – Teaching non-English Speaker Snowboarding

I had an interesting time teaching a non-English speaker on Saturday.  My snowboard student came to Vancouver for a 3 week vacation.  This particular student spoke a few basic English phrases and understood about half of what I was saying.  I understand how it is like not to understand or speak English because I was like that when I first move to Canada many years ago.  I had to think of creative methods in order to help this student understand my instructions.  The Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors (CASI) Certification did not prepare us for teaching non-English speakers.

I tried many different methods in teaching this student.  At the beginning of the lesson, I did my usual instructions by the CASI text book and demonstrated on my snowboard how to do a side slip.  He stood up, lean on his back foot and started to turn but fell down every time he tried.  After he climbed back to the top of the bunny hill, he explained to me that he surfed for 3 years back in his country and he is trying to mimic his surfing style on the snowboard.  As I have surfed in Tofino in the past, I understood where he is coming from.  I then told him to show me how he stands when he surfed and then tweak his posture into the proper snowboarding posture.  when that didn’t work, I walked with him while he is on his snowboard, showing him every step of the turn and how to come to a stop after each turn.  I took him down the hill several times and adjusted his posture while he tried to turn on his own before he finally understood what I was trying to convey to him.

While on the chair lift, he asked me: “what to do to go to the mountains?”.  It took me awhile before I understood that he was asking me about the other ski resorts in the area.  I obviously couldn’t promote the other ski resorts because they are in competition with my ski resort.  I gave him some suggestions on where to track down those information himself but encouraged him to come back because the ski resort I work for is definitely the best in the area.

By the end of the lesson, this student was linking turns comfortable down the bunny hill without falling.  I was surprised myself not only because this was his first time snowboarding but the fact that he didn’t understand half of what I was saying but was able to learn was pretty amazing.  It turned out to be a good lesson afterall.

Day 29 – Adventure Smart

In Response to Karl Woll’s posting at outdoorvancouver.ca, I did an interview at Grouse Mountain on Saturday with the Adventuresmart Crew Rob and Torrie.  Rob introduced adventuresmart to me, their organization basically goes into schools and ski resorts to raise awareness of the Avalanche dangers in the backcountry and how to be prepared.  Torrie then did a demonstration for me.  She buried a beacon in the snow and told me not to look at where she buried it.  Then she taught me how to find it using another Avalnche beacon, probe, and shovel.  The beacon was actually quite accurate, I was able to dig a hole in the snow about a foot down and find the other beacon.

Adventure Smart Booth at Grouse Mountain

Adventure Smart Booth at Grouse Mountain - Rob

Safety Gears from Adventure Smart

Safety Gears from Adventure Smart

Vancity Allie recently commented on the skiers who were banned .  she “believes that if something happens to [her] in the backcountry, [she] can pay for [her] own search and rescue costs.(Source)”  I don’t think you should even go into a ski resort if you plan on breaking the rules.  Rules are there to keep you safe.  If I wanted to ski the backcountry, I would hike it rather than taking the chair lift.  There’s lots of parks in the province that have nicer backcountry skiing than the Northshore Mountains.  Even with proper training and years of experience, people still die from avalanches every year.  Why would you risk it at a time when avalanche danger is rated at an all time “high”?

Day 28 – Hilarious Conversation with the Tram Operator

Yesterday I witnessed a hilarious conversation on the Grouse Mountain Skyride between a customer and the Tram Operator.  I know it is a stressful job because my cousin used to work in this position.  As the Tram Operator was going through his daily spiel about Grouse Mountain and the weather…

Tram Operator: “The Snow Report for yesterday was…”

12 year old Kid shouted : “THERE’S NO SNOW !! IT HAS BEEN RAINING !!”

Tram Operator: “Well…actually there was a dusting of snow overnight on Paradise and…”

12 year old Kid interrupted again: “NO !! THERE’S NO SNOW!! IT’S ALL MELTED!!”

Everyone in the Tram started laughing.

Tram Operator paused, feeling awkward, then said, “Aaaanyway…moving on…”

Grouse Mountain Skyride

Day 27 – Pizza turns on Skis & Down-Unweighting on Snowboard

I had a Twitter conversation this morning with an avid skier Gillian Shaw (@gillianshaw) from Vancouver Sun.  She wrote an article called “Google Snow Report” in which it states “Skiing is 30 per cent more popular as a search term than snowboarding” and “Canadians search for the word ‘snowboarding’ more than any other country in the world.”  Now I understand why the majority of my readers are from Canada, some from the United States of America, and few from overseas.  Although lots of great Snowboard videos do come from the United States of America.  The two I watched recently that I really liked are “I ride Park City” and “Bear Mountain’s A Walk in the Park”.

Since reading that skiing is becoming popular again, I decided to take my Rossignal Bandit B2’s out for a run.  When I got up on the mountain I was hungry so I had a Vegetarian Pizza in the Cafeteria.  I then headed out to the slopes doing “Pizza” turns with my skis.  Instructors refer to Snowplowing as “Pizza” so kids can understand it better.

Last year the once and only time I was on my skis I took a lesson.  During my first run of last season, the Instructor took my class down a steep Black Diamond Run, I got freaked out and basically slid down the hill on my butt.  I decided to start on green runs this year and work my way back up to Black runs by the end of the season.  I stayed at Paradise (Bunny Hill) for an hour practicing my pizza turns.  My legs were getting pretty tired after a few runs so I started doing parallel turns.  The Snow was “Bullet-Proof”.  It was basically ice because of the rain from the past few days and the freezing temperature tonight.  If you look carefully at the photo below, you will see footprints in the snow, the skis can basically slide over these footprints without leaving a mark in the snow.

"Bullet-Proof" Snow at Grouse Mountain

My feet were becoming numb after an hour in the hard-boots (ski boots) so I decided to change into my soft snowboard boots and go riding.  I took a snowboard lesson 2 days ago at Cypress which improved my riding quite a lot so I decided to take a lesson here at Grouse too.  My instructor is a CASI level 3 Instructor and an Evaluator.  We worked on down-unweighting turns to prepare me for CASI 3 that I will be taking eventually.  Since the snow was bulletproof, there wasn’t really much room for mistakes.  Falling down on ice means bruises and injuries.  I struggled with it at first but by the end of the lesson I was doing moguls on my snowboard.  It was the second great lesson I had this season. Now I just need lots of practice to familiarize myself with these new techniques.

Aside from the hard-packed snow, Grouse Mountain was beautiful, clear, and warm tonight.

Grouse Mountain was Beautiful, Clear, and Warm tonight

“Sick Board”

I got my snowboard, Burton Dominant, 2 years ago simply because it was the Snowboard Burton recommanded for park riding.  Since then, almost everyday I would hear people commenting on my board and ask how it is.  For myself, I like it because it is way lighter than my first board (Nitro) and much easier to do tricks with.  I could do butter continuously until I get dizzy on this board, 360’s off any small bumps in the snow are no problem at all.  Rails and Boxes are pretty fun to do on this board too.

Burton Custom Brew Binding (Beer Bottle Green)

I have a Burton Custom Brew Binding with “Beer Bottle Green” as its color.  It is the color of my favorite beer – Heineken.  The Highback also acts as a beer bottle opener, and when I ride the chair lift on high wind days, it whistles too.  I couldn’t really explain how great the Burton Dominant is since this is my first park board.  The video below from youtube is about this board that I love so much.

A week ago, there was a big snow dump at Grouse Mountain, so I did a few drops into the soft stuff and landed into lots of rocks sticking out.  You can see the result in the photo.  I can see the wood core of the board.

Landing on rocks at Grouse Mountain

and a zoom of the same photo

Zoom of my Board - you can see the Wood core

I’ll be bringing it to the shop tomorrow for some repairs.  In the mean time, I’ll have to take out my free ride Nitro board, really wide and heavy, great for speed and powder.

Day 26 – Wet Wet day at Cypress Mountain

I was originally planning to hit up both Grouse and Cypress today but my lesson at Grouse was canceled due to the rain, so I decided to stay at Cypress for the rest of the evening.  I took a lesson at Cypress Mountain with Matt from New Zealand.  He is a New Zealand Stage 2 Snowboard Instructor (SBINZ), which is the equivalent of CASI level 3 in the Canadian system.  Matt only teaches part-time at Cypress Mountain and works in construction full time.  I came into the lesson thinking I just need a few tips on my teaching, but turned out I actually got a big improvement on my own riding.  Watching my riding from a fresh set of eyes really helped.

Snowboard Lesson at Cypress Mountain

Taking a Snowboard Lesson at Cypress Mountain

I told Matt I wanted to work on my jumps.  I can do 180’s and 360’s easy but could never rotate enough to do a 540.  Matt pointed out I should be looking at the take off with my eye and have my hips squared to my board, which will give me more balance in spinning a 540.  With these tiny adjustments to my stance, I was spinning faster and getting more air.  Matt then demonstrated a 360 static jump with his board and a few 360’s riding on the flats.  It was amazing.  I have never seen anyone spin that fast in the air.

Matt taking me down Collins

I guess, even after ten years of riding, there’s still a lot I can improve on by learning from others from different backgrounds and higher certifications.  I’m really glad I took the lesson today.

It was raining the whole time I was up there so I was completely soaked after only an hour of riding, so I decided to go home.  I really wished I have brought my garbage bag to wear underneath my gortex jacket and plastic bags to wear over my gortex socks like I usually do when it is raining.

Raining on Cypress Mountain

Old Ski School office on Cypress Mountain

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