DAY 1 – Monday 11th January 2016
Finally the day had come. Months of anticipation, stories and expectations had all come together and arrived and I was walking over to NBS Sam in Heathrow Airport. I could be forgiven for thinking he wasn’t the messiah described, donning high tops and a thick essex accent, but he would deliver us to the holy land they called Big White (Biggie) none the less. Mixed feelings about who would be on our course all evaporated and soon we were all sat in the departure lounge with a frothy beer in hand buzzing off the fact we were all now mates from all backgrounds and continents drawn together by the common shred that we would all be snowboarding, skiing, partying together for the next three months on our way to coveted CSIA/CASI ski and snowboard qualifications.
DAY 2 – Tuesday 12th January 2016
Our NBS organised flight landed me into Canada in deserved style for the months ahead after dipping into First Class halfway through the flight to enjoy the extensive wine collection (all good years in Chile), reclining bed and full english breakfast. Then, before we knew it we were shaking hands with fellow Aussies and Kiwis at Vancouver airport who had also heard utters of ‘The Snow’ and jumped on a coach to Big White. 3am came round and we were greeted by NBS Leigh at our accommodation. Through a hazy blur I walked through the gates of heaven and my eyes glimpsed our pad for the first time. Not even a trans-atlantic jet lag could dampen the amp of seeing a hot tub, widescreen television and log fire. We woke up early later that same morning to see the sun coming up over the mountains – 6 wide-open jaws stood on a balcony. After an afternoon of boot and board fittings our weapons were loaded for a day of shredding the following day so we were taken by our reps NBS Ant and Joey to our watering hole for the next three months: Snowshoe Sams. Think log cabin chalet meets sports bar, with a moose head hanging off the bar!
DAY 3 – Wednesday 13th January 2016
Housemates. It’s six to a dope-artment and I was put with our hilarious reps NBS Ant and Joey along with Emily, Nicola and Mike (I’m writing this a week in and were already a family – man up you were popping 360s today). After a brekkie of pancakes and maple syrup (its tradition) we all ventured up to the main center of the village, board and skis in hand to meet our instructors. Similar to us they were all from different countries and backgrounds, but all shared the common trait of a love to jib and shred. Could things get any better? There’s people out there who actually want us to get better at boarding and skiing who enjoy it as much as us and aren’t afraid of a good time and a beer. After a solid 30 person ‘group ski’ tearing Biggie up we all headed back to our apartments where the meals are all pre prepared and ready to cook for a hassle free family cook up followed by a hot tub session. Life couldn’t get much better.
DAY 4 – Thursday 14th January 2016
Today was the first day of lessons and true to that all of us waited in line like a game of quidditch off Harry Potter – instead this time broomsticks had been sacked off and replaced with snowboards and skis and I wasn’t donning a poor excuse for a scar on my head but a pair of Danny Davies Signature Dragon Goggles. Jumping on the first chair lift of the day and the clouds dispersed half way up revealing the extent of snowfall fallen at Big White this year – it’s already surpassed the entire snowfall of last season in 7 weeks! Snow Ghosts (Pine trees caked in snow so they appear like snowy shapes) and thick off piste ready to be carved up was everywhere – top of the lift and we turned around to see the view of mountains as far as you could see, this season was going to be an epic one. Our instructor Mike talked us through the format to Level 1 CASI and then took us for a ride on various runs, then at the end of a couple explained how we could improve each of our techniques and riding styles as well as integrating that with teaching and how we would approach that with novice and intermediate riders.
DAY 5 – Friday 15th January 2016
Our second day of lessons was highly anticipated and true to form involved shredding the mountain with the seasoned Mike showing us the slopes. It was an amazing feeling to be taught the correct technique and ride with correct form. Tricks and riding all emerged to be so much simpler than anticipated and suddenly everyone was shredding the mountain in ways we had never thought we could in a matter of two days of teaching. We all headed back to Sams for our weekly debrief outlining an evaluation of our riding and teaching technique before heading back to get showered for our NBS tradition Friday meal at a different restaurant each week. Naturally we headed to Sams after a delicious meal at Sante’s to smash off some beers and celebrate our arrival.
DAY 6 – Saturday 16th January 2016
Bleary eyed with the taste of alcohol still on my breath packing enough punch to get a 3 year old drunk we headed back up the mountain to put some techniques we had learnt from snowboard instructor Mike in to practice. Snow ghost chairlift was like a witch doctor and at the top the fresh mountain air had us all cured and ready to shred the fresh powder that had fallen over night. Visibility wasn’t top notch so we ducked into some trees to refine our turns. The tree runs in Big White are so much fun and morale was high with chairlift talk of the previous nights antics. Heading back to the apartment for pizza and hot tub was on this evenings agenda and after a film the family were all ready for bed to do it all over again tomorrow.
DAY 7 – Sunday 17th January 2016
Big White had looked after us again and laid another fat dump of champagne powder all over the mountain. We headed straight for Black Forest to get between the trees again. Gopro in hand we got some sick footage carving between the snow ghosts and bombing into untouched powder. Everyone was still amped off the fact that this was everyday for the next three months and team boring could keep their office jobs back home for a little longer! After lunch we called it and headed to Sams for a couple of frothy’s to rest up for a busy full week of Level 1 CASI training. Champagne powder on the menu next week and all season. What a killer first week!