The week we had all been waiting for had finally arrived and with just one final days training left of our season we met at 9:30 for the final time at Big White VCM.
Our trainers were Fraser and Dom and we had an opportunity to work on anything we wanted to, for some it was teaching but for others certain aspects of riding were top of the list. The weather was amazing with blue skies all around and with small groups of 3 or 4 it was a perfect final day to prepare for our exam.
Tuesday morning had a weird sense of Déjà vu as the early start and bus journey accompanied nerves similar to that on our level 1 exam, although that seemed like ages ago now. Unlike that exam however, we swapped groups of 8 to groups of 4, and for the next four days I was to be with Mellen. She was one of only two female level 4 CASI snowboarders, and as she proved in the week to come, a fantastic evaluator.
Everything was set as we split into our small groups; we were well prepared and after a huge dump of snow the previous night, we had 20cm of fresh powder lying in wait for us. The only problem however was that we literally could not see more than 5m in front of us. We headed up nonetheless and as best we could work on riding for the rest of the morning. The weather never really cleared up all day, but in the afternoon we focused on novice teaching on the mountain.
Thankfully the weather cleared up for us on Wednesday, and our group had probably one of the best warm up runs ever. During exams we tend to start at first lift (8:30) instead of the usual 9:30 during training weeks, and with freshly groomed runs, perfect snow conditions and the sun shining, we ripped down the mountain only to stop at the bottom and look round to each other with huge smiles on our faces. We knew it was going to be a good day, and so it proved as we each taught a novice lesson in the morning before working on groomed terrain teaching in the afternoon. Some of us couldn’t resist a few wings to end a successful first half of our exam. The only real change to the evening was instead of having the last pie left in the oven to eat on the way home we had the first one out from our trusty pie dealer outside Sam’s.
The week continued into Thursday, and while our riding stayed consistent the weather certainly didn’t. Today the conditions were foggy and misty and for the first time this season we had rain instead of snow softening the ground below us.
We taught a groomed lesson in the morning and used our lunch break to dry off and warm up our gloves before some moving on to freeride teaching in the afternoon.
It was no surprise to see that Fridays weather conditions had changed yet again, and on our final day we were faced with clear skies but very cold conditions and rock hard frozen pistes. We were keen to get the exam finished, and despite a less than comfortable warm up run through kangaroo ( a blue run with moguls that on this occasion were like rocks) we continued to ride consistently for the rest of the morning. We taught our final lesson of our exam, and for most of the group the final lesson of their time here in big white before finishing at 3:30.
The moment we had been waiting for, and what a good feeling it was. Every single person from Nothinbutsnow had passed their level 2 continuing their remarkable 100% pass rate. Our hard work and investment had paid off and we had all achieved what we came here for. It was definitely the best feeling I had since being here!
After a celebratory pitcher we headed back to Snowpines to get changed before meeting at the Bullwheel. Our 17 burgers were flipped brilliantly by our friend in the kitchen, Reece, much to the satisfaction of the new level 2 instructors. We continued to Sam’s with everyone having something to celebrate, partying into Saturday morning at one house party or another.
I cant really say what the weather was like Saturday morning, but we didn’t really care as we enjoyed our well deserved lie-ins. Gavin and I could not resist one more opportunity to head down to Kelowna for a proper night out once again. Earls, Kelly O’s, Flanagan’s, Rose’s and Sapphire all provided more than a stage to celebrate our success. NBS Sam picked us up in the morning with Max and Sam and after a trip to the mall we headed back up to Big White to continue with St Patrick’s Day.
A weekend of celebrations that was more than fitting to celebrate our success from the last 11 weeks.
Our final week of Training was upon us and we has gone. With our Level 2 exam looming we were determined to make the most of the week and polish our riding and teaching to prepare for next week. My group was to be with Cody with the other group having Fraser.
The week was designed to work on the parts of our Snowboarding and Teaching that we needed the most work on and make the small improvements that will make big differences in our exam. The first day we focused on riding and the three core competencies we would be analyzed on.
Tuesday started with one of Cody’s warm up runs, switch riding down Serwa’s, consisting of at least three Nollies, Frontside 180s, Backside 180s and Switch 1’s, a lovely way to get the muscles going in the morning. The rest of the day was teaching based, each of us practicing two lessons across the mountain.
Wednesday morning we continued our teaching practice and then after lunch we spent the afternoon tearing through Telus park. They changed the lay out again adding a few new rails and kickers for us to play around with. The half pipe remained and as each run went by, we were gradually popping out of the sides more and trying alley oops.
Thursday morning we were blessed with Blue Skies and at least 15cm of fresh snow on the ground lying in wait. We enjoyed some tree runs and headed up the T-bar to the summit enjoying the fresh snow and of course the fantastic view. With our exam looming we all agreed we wanted to practice our short radius turns more and Cody obliged. After numerous runs down Exhibition and continual feedback we were improving and felt much more confident.
Our final weeks training had come to an end and Cody let us work on whatever we wanted to for our final day, some of us choosing carving and the odd teach. We wrapped up in Sam’s over a beer and used the opportunity to ask any questions we had before next week.
The weekend for me was spent resting up, chilling in the hot tub and skyping friends and family. For some intense training had taken its toll, a number of the group were ill, tired or injured. I had damaged my shoulder on Friday morning and particularly didn’t want to make it worse. We were fortunate not to have any major concerns however unlike NBS Sam, separating his shoulder attempting a backflip in the park. Saturday evening we headed to the Thai restaurant, a big favourite amongst the group from a few weeks back which certainly gave us a boost before our big week. I ended the week in prime style, treating myself to a 16oz Okanagan steak; much needed protein to carry me through next week!
Bring it on!
The last week before exams and although there is a little nervousness in the air all the students are ready and raring to go. The snowboard focus for this week is level 2 teaches and looking at rider standards. Instructor Fraser was back on duty and we had a new instructor with the snowboarders this week who was Cody. As an experienced trainer he will bring a lot to the table for the students. The skiers focus was on improving mobility in challenging terrain and being confident when delivering level 2 teaches. The skiers were out with Jamie Jack a very experienced level 4 who is sure to whip the guys and girls in to shape before their exam a week away.
Tuesday and Wednesday were just like Monday, some other students go the opportunity to teach and show their knowledge as well as riding and getting feedback on their turns and carving. Two skills they will need to demonstrate to pass their exam. After skiing back home they all settled down to read their student manuals and prep up for some quizzing over the next few days.
Thursday we awoke to some fresh pow which is always nice. Everyone was buzzing and we got some good shots of the guys riding. Skiers headed to bumpy terrain to train whilst the snowboarders headed up T-Bar to get some fresh tracks and off in to the trees.
Friday was all about making sure the students felt confident and didn’t have any further questions regarding teaching. They all sat down one to one with their instructors so they could discuss their riding feedback and see how far they have come on since that first week of lessons. Friday evening meal had been moved to Saturday to accommodate two of our girl snowboarders who have enrolled in a freestyle programme up in Big White. Most of the students headed out for something to eat and a few drinks whilst the rest chilled in the cinema room and kicked back with a movie.
Saturday brought an amazingly sunny day and whilst most chilled in the hot tub or sunbathing on the tub a few f the guys got out for a little slide and take in the breathtaking scenery that was on offer. As always Sunday is the super chill day and it is not complete without at least one sore head from venturing out the night before to sample the nightlife. Bring on the Level 2 exams