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.

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 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

Day 21 – Last day of 2008 @ Grouse Mountain (Video)

Song is Mos Def – Wylin Out

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 7 – Grouse Mountain – Patches of Ice (Dec 15, 2008)

It’s been a bad day following a string of unfortunate events.

Ok, maybe not that bad.  Today I went up to Grouse Mountain for some night riding.  Since I had such a great experience on the opening day I brought my short park board with no edges thinking tonight will be just as fun.  I did a warm up run at the “Cut”.  I was following about 10 feet behind a 14 year old snowboarder, and all of a sudden, he fell and tumbled down the hill so I tried to steer around him.  Little did I know that we were both on a Big Sheet of ice on a pretty steep slope.  So the minute I got on my heel edge, I fell too and started sliding down the hill fast on my butt.  I tried many times to dig into the ice with my board to brake but it did little to slow me down.  After the big patch of ice, I sat there trying to figure out whether it was my board (with dull edges) or the fact my legs were still burning from riding in powder at Cypress yesterday.  Maybe I should have stretched.  As I sat there pondering these issues, I saw other snowboarders one by one either falling on their butt or tumbling down the hill like we did the minute they got onto the patch of ice.  Through the evening, I fell many more times on different patches of ice all over the hill, and now my wrist hurts.  I better start wearing my wrist guard again to prevent further injuries.

Aside from my falling down, it was a clear and beautiful night.

Groues Mountain Night Scene

I got to meet Mister and Mrs. Claus.

Groues Mountain Santa

It was -9 ºC  or  15.8 ºF.  The Snow Guns were pumping, just avoid the sections between the Snow Guns, that’s where the ice patches were.

Grouse Mountain Night Scene

Grouse Mountain Night Scene

Grouse Mountain Night Scene

The riders at the Terrain park on the opening day were all back in school so the Terrain Park seem pretty empty.

Grouse Mountain Night Scene

Grouse Mountain Night Scene

Grouse Mountain Night Scene

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