Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports (VASS) Challenge Cup (Feb 26, 2009) – Video

Click here for HD version

Event hosted by VASS

Video of Mark Hopkins and Jess Sloss in Action at the VASS Challeng Cup at Grouse Mountain.  An Interview I had with Mark Hopkins will be posted later.

Deals! Deals! Deals! on local mountains.

It’s Spring, and there are lots of deals happening in the local mountains. here’s a few.

Grouse Mountain

Y2Play Pass: $355.00 (purchase now! it will sell out soon)

– a popular pass that includes riding and skiing for the rest of this season as well as all of next season.

– All Y2Play purchasers receive $35 off an Air Grouse Mountain Zipline tour.

– Bonus for Adult Y2Play passholders: $25 Grouse Mountain Gift Card. Family passes will include a $50 Grouse Mountain Gift Card. Buy online and receive a complimentary lift ticket valid until April 2010.

Adopt an Athelete:

Support one of Grouse Mountain’s adopted athletes and you could win one of three great winter packages:

1. Three pairs of 2010 Olympic Winter Games tickets and a high performance ski or snowboard package for two

2. Two Adult Y2Play Snow Passes valid through the end of the 2009/10 winter season

3. Two adult 5-Day Snow Packs valid for use through the end of the 2009/10 winter season.

Alternatively, you can enter the draw for the prizing for no donation amount. To do this, please write us a 200 word letter on either of the two following topics:

a) Why Vancouver is the ideal city to host the world in 2010

b) How winter sports have inspired a common passion that unites our province.

click on the link to find out more

Cypress Mountain

Women’s Week:  (March 2-8)

– any weekly drop in lesson – 20% off for women, Women only Terrain Park Jam

Mount Seymour

$99 Spring Pass: March 1 to end of this season

-I would not call this the “best deal in town” as they advertise it, for $255.00 more, you can get 5 more months of skiing and riding at Grouse Mountain.

– But if you love riding the big terrain park Seymour has, maybe this is the pass for you.


Day 61 – Riding GNU Board with Magnum Traction and Reverse Camber (Feb 21, 2009)

Morning Lesson

It’s a beautiful sunny day at Grouse Mountain today.  I taught a drop in lesson this morning for level 4’s.  The 3 kids told me that they are comfortable turning on blues and blacks so we decided to head over to Centennial on our first run.  Turned out they were having trouble side slipping down an easy blue run.  The snow was still a bit hard-packed from last night (it usually soften up by noon).  Since the students were having so much trouble side slipping, I decided to work on their balance first.  We started with a few exercises of keeping their weight centered then moved on to turning on mellow terrain at the mid way point of Centennial.  My snowboard is set at 21 & 9 degrees Goofy stance for aggressive carving.  I demonstrated how to turn switch since all my students are regular stance.  after a few turns I hit an icy patch and I fell and tumbled quite a few times down the hill.  Both my helmet and goggles fell out like you see on bails in snowboard videos.  I looked up at the kids and they all looked really frightened.  If an instructor with 10 years experience is falling down on a mellow blue run, what is going to happen to snowboarders that have only snowboarded for 10 days?  I then had to tell them to slide towards me and we’ll try it again.  This time is was a genuine fall, not the intentional bail that I talked about a few months ago.  After finding out their ability are not quite up to par yet for the blue run, we went over to paper trail to practice some turns, and this time, I made sure I was riding goofy again.

Riding GNU’s Altered Genetics

GNU Altered Genetics

In the afternoon, there were no lessons scheduled so most of the instructors just chilled at the hut, chatting and trying to get a goggle tan.  After finding out I could go home from my supervisor, my friend Eric lend me his GNU Altered Genetics board with Reverse Camber and Magne-Traction to try out.  The minute I put it on, it felt really wobbly.  My freeride board is so stiff and heavy, this board is the complete opposite.  I could actually feel the bumps on the snow underneath the snowboard, I felt like if I twist hard enough, the board could actually snap in half.  At first it was really hard to turn because the reverse camber felt so weird.  I then tried doing butter: I was able to lift the board up so much higher than my own board and spin with more control.  I then tried an Ollie and it didn’t take too much effort to get lots of air.  Eric then told me to try carving.  The snow was quite soft and slushy by this time so I figure I’ll try it.  After my first carving turn I looked back at my track and was amazed by the deep trenches the Magne-traction made.  For the second and third turn, I went really fast and carve up hills making 3/4 of a circle on snow.  I was able to grip on the snow even when the snowboard was carving up hills.  For going fast, however, I find the board a bit too wobbly, it chatters quite a lot because the board is quite soft.  The tech guy at Boardroom said that getting a magne-traction board with camber will be better for going fast and through steep icy conditions.

I have not taken the board into the park because it’s my friend’s board and I dont’ want to wreck it so I cannot tell you how it is on rails or jumps.  Another friend Snap his Skate-Banana in half going off a 40 foot jump and landing on the tail of his board.  For boardercross or racing, I would still get a stiff carving board with hard boots because you would be able to make sure the edges are sharp enough to grip on the ice and to go fast.

—————update—————————————————————

Iocn from locnguyen.com sent me this link on the discussion of Reverse Camber : http://www.bomberonline.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=24000

Day 53 – Dream Wedding on Snowboards (Feb 8, 2009)

One of my friend got married this weekend, she and her husband had a wedding on snow.  They are both passionate about snowboarding so they got married on snowboards with their family and friends on the hill with them.  At one point, my friend did a jump off a kicker while holding her wedding dress up with one hand.  This is definitely a special wedding that people will remember for a long time to come.

Although I do not have any photos of the wedding, I did photographed this girl who sewn a pair of Northface Snowboard pants into a dress and skied with it in Mount Baker on Monday.  She was kind enough to pose for me in the parking lot.

Girl Skied in a Northface "Dress" (Feb 9, 2009)

Girl Skied in a Northface "Dress" (Feb 9, 2009)

Back to blogging about snowboarding.  I taught a zone camp in the afternoon.  After my last zone camp, I figured I will do thing differently this time around.  Instead of joking around too much with the kids, I would lay down the rules on the first day and be authoritative so they will listen to me for the rest of the month.  When they understood and follow the rules for their own safety, then we can start to have some fun learning.  I focused on Class Management today.  Since it was a really busy day, I had my students sat in 2 lines, making sure they each have a partner.  I told them to sit in the same order every time so the class won’t be too spread out and it would be easy for them to remember the names of the other students.  The Student with the most experience get to sit in the back to look after the other kids while the 2nd best student sat in the very front to lead the class.

Students line up in 2 lines for Safety (Feb 9, 2009)

This strategy worked until one of the kid’s mom showed up at our lesson.  The kid was really hungry so his mom bought him a Beaver Tail and a hot chocolate.  I was glad the rest of the class all brought snacks with them otherwise it would be chaos.  We had a ten minute break to eat.  After the break, the kid with the Beaver Tail refused to put on his snowboard, he said he was too sleepy after eating.  He spent the rest of the class lying on the side of the hill and would not participate in the drills we were doing.  At the end of the class when we were going to take the chair lift up, he decided he wants to walk up instead while the rest of the class wanted to ride the lift.  This did not become a problem because his mom came and picked him up when I was showing the kids how to get off the chair lift in the Static Chair between the two Lumberjack Poles.  It will surely become interesting next week when we go down the Cut; it will be a long walk up if he still refuses to take the chair lift.

VASS Challenge Cup (Feb 26, 2009) @ Grouse Mountain


VASS video “gravity is your ally” produced by GiantAntMedia.com

.


VASS video “skiing removes barriers” produced by GiantAntMedia.com

My friend Jess‘s company GiantAntMedia produced the 2 videos above.  It is about the VASS Challenge Cup happening on Feb 26, 2009.  My friend Mark is a volunteer ski instructor with the VASS on Saturdays at Grouse Mountain.

Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports for Snowboarders @ Grouse Mountain
Snowboarders getting trained on operating a Sit-Ski

Don’t quote me on this, but it is apparently only at the beginning stages of developing a snowboard suitable for adaptive snow sports.  I attended one of the training for snowboarders on sit-skis.  It was said that it is really hard to control a sit-skis for volunteers on snowboards so they are constantly testing new ways of doing it.  For skiers it is easier to be the the tetherer because using a wedge they can control how fast the sit-ski is going, but for snowboarders doing S turns, if the sit-ski go out of control while a snowboarder is on the toe edge, it is likely the snowboarder will catch an edge on the heel side and fall down the hill backwards.  Some snowboarders suggested tying the tether to the waist but the instructor commented that if the sit-ski go out of control, it is easy for a snowboarder to throw out his or her back.  imagine someone tying a rope to your waist and suddenly pull forward with great force without giving you any warning.

Please correct me (in the comments) if anything I said here is wrong.  This is merely my opinion and most likely it is not accurate as I only listened in for 10 minutes or so.  The volunteers, however, are very dedicated and doing a great job of helping others.

Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports @ Grouse Mountain

Vancouver Adoptive Snow Sports @ Grouse Mountain

I have taken only a couple of photographs (above) on the VASS at Grouse, be sure to support the VASS (http://www.vass.ca/) by attending the February 26 event at Grouse Mountain, donating money to them, or by giving your time to become a volunteer!!

Day 52 – Ski the Peak (Feb 7, 2009)

Today I had no lessons in the morning so I took both my snowboard and my skis up the gondola (Man ! is it Heavy !!). My friend Richard said I look like a traveling sports equipment salesman. There were not much new snow overnight so I was expecting everything to be icy.
Very Crowded at Grouse Mountain Feb 9, 2009 (taken from the top of Peak Chair)

On my first run I went down Centennial, there was a ski slolam race going on for the Tyee ski club so the left side of the run was closed. Buckhorn was also closed due to the race. Only the right half of Centennial was open so I went down it. It was just a sheet of ice. There was absolutely no soft snow covering it. I was glad my instructor at Cypress taught me how to carve on edge so I was able to go down it without too much problem. I wish I had sharpened my skis before coming down this run though. When I got up to the Peak via the Olympic Chair, I calmed myself and gathered enough courage to go down the Peak. If the Peak was as icy as Centennial, there was no way I was going down on skis; it will be on my butt instead like last time.

When I went down the peak, the snow was amazingly soft. It was still a bit crunchy, but there was half a foot of soft stuff on top. I lapped the peak a few times using the Peak Chair and that’s the first time I realized the advantage of the newly-built Peak Chair. Most people find the Peak Chair useless because it takes you up to the same place as Olympic Chair. When the Peak Chair was built, it was for the purpose of accessing more terrains in the tree, but we did not have enough snow this year to ski down through the trees. I think the Peak Chair is for skiers that just want to lap the Moguls and the Peak without going all the way down to the bottom of Olympic. There is also never any line ups at the Peak Chair so it is good for people who hates lining up for half an hour at the Olympic Chair. One more advantage of the Peak Chair is that it gives tourists access to the top of the Mountain (without forcing them to walk up) where the new Zip Line is.

In the afternoon, I taught two never-ever lessons back to back, walking up and down the bunny hill for 4 hours straight.

Working as Ski / Snowboard Instructors (Part 2): Making a Living

2. Making a living

Instructor teaching Private Lesson

Many instructors make a living by having a full time job in areas such as accounting, Information technology, and construction in order to fuel their passion for teaching on weekends or week nights.  My friend Richard has a full time job as an “IT Manager in order to pay the bills [, and works as a] Ski Instructor at Grouse Mountain to feed the passion.” Some will move up to become supervisors or managers of a snow school, which many found out later they do not get to ski at all, it’s all about paper work and organizing other instructors.  Some instructors teach full time but have other part time jobs on nights and weekends.  Snocon sum it up quite well in his comment on my last post: “It’s definitely a job for someone with a passion for being on the mountain and spreading the stoke, not for anyone who is just in it for the money and a free lift pass.”


(Video Credit: VanRiders.com) James is a CASI 2 / CSIA 2 Instructor at Grouse Mountain teaching Private Request lessons.

An instructor can make a better living by marketing and promoting themselves in order to get private request lessons.  Private request lessons pays the instructors 3-4 times the hourly wage depending on the size of the private lesson and the resort an instructor is working for. The local mountains in Vancouver encourage private lessons because it make both the resort and the instructors more money.  It’s a win-win situation.  The resort will not have to do as much marketing and advertising for the Snow School because instructors will be out there promoting themselves to the public in order to make a living.  If every instructor is out there marketing the mountain’s products, then the mountain will have 40 to a couple hundred instructors promoting the mountain free of charge.

As I learned in my marketing class in university: it costs less money to keep an existing customer than it does to find a new ones.  If a student is pleased with the private lesson given by an instructor, they are more willing to come back year after year to learn from the same instructor.  In later articles, I will talk more about methods of attracting new students and keeping them.

Even if a potential customer finds private lessons too expensive, they might still take a drop-in lesson and pay for the lesson, lift pass, and rentals.  Every instructor at the ski resorts I’ve worked for is encouraged to hand out business cards to everyone they see on the street or on the hill and help out any beginner they see on the hill who are struggling in order to promote themselves.  I will talk about the demographic of the students and how the instructor should approach teaching in order to get repeat lessons in the next couple of articles.

%d bloggers like this: