Know the Code

Lynn’s comment to 1 Boarder 5 Questions reminded me to write about the code. There’s nothing secret about this code. The more people who are familiar with it, the better. The Alpine Responsibility Code lists ten points that are the golden rules of life on the slopes. Skiers and boarders are obligated to ski or ride in a controlled, responsible manner. We all share the responsibility, so best to take a look and refresh you memory before the season starts.

source: Canadian Ski Patrol

source: Canadian Ski Patrol

This code is in effect across Canada (please note, Quebec has its own code). To learn more about the codes, safety and rescue, visit the Canadian Ski Patrol website.

Ski Inspiration #3: Training with Heart

photo credit: Droid Gingerbread

photo credit: Droid Gingerbread

Patty cake, patty cake may be just what’s needed. The game in which you clap your own and your partner’s hands requires eye contact or at least eyes on your partner’s hands. On the ski hill, keeping the game going by skiing backwards to face your student means the student needs to look up enough to see your hands. Looking up means looking forward and not looking down at the ground, which is helpful when going down a hill. That’s how a round of patty cake helped a little girl ski all the way to the bottom of the hill, which is why she raised her arms in victory like she won Olympic gold.

You need to think outside the box teaching kids. And with these kids, as it should be with all kids, the focus is on ability: the ability to move freely, learn, accomplish, participate, make friends, and do what other kids do. Having the opportunity to shine and be a part of something, not sit on the sidelines or watch out the window.

Every Track 3 volunteer says the same thing: once you start, it’s hard to walk away. I can see that. To quote Amy Bloom, “In the right hands, everything that you give, you get.” Patty cake and victory signs sound pretty good to me.

*On-hill training begins in January.  Instructor to student ratio is 1:1 or 2:1 and teaching methods are based on CSIA and CASI. Volunteers always needed.  Contact Ontario Track 3 Ski Association for the Disabled.

1 Snowboarder 5 Questions

Fernie photo credit: cb6379

photo credit: cb6379

In the interest of happiness on the hills, I wanted to get a snowboarder’s thoughts on the upcoming season and that ongoing rivalry between boarders and skiers. Years ago, JP spent a day or two on the hills as a skier then quickly made the switch to boarding.  Now he’s reflecting on deep pow and sharing the great winter wonderland with his kids.

1. What’s your essential gear?

This really depends on your budget and specific needs, likely similar to skiing.  Of course the usual rules apply: keep warm and comfortable and dress in layers – nothing worse than being stuck at the top of the lift in Mt. Tremblant for 20 minutes at -32C and not being comfy (been there, done that). As for the technical gear, I recommend a helmet. I think that this is still a debatable issue as I once read that head injuries went down but neck injuries went up (people thinking that they are indestructible and therefore put on a helmet and try a Rodeo 540*). In snowboarding when you fall, you fall fast and hard, straight back or forward as you catch an edge and wham, head meets Ontario ice. Comfy boots are key. The rest is budget and terrain. I ride hard and fast, and have done steep and deep so I opt for a stiffer board, bindings and boots – more responsiveness at high speed and in tight terrain like glades.  Boards are all relatively the same in concept. Riding park and rails all day (which at 41 I do not do) requires a different board than bombing a cruiser.

*Rodeo Flip – An inverted frontside 540 off of a straight jump. In the halfpipe, it is more like performing a 540 degree rotation which is inverted and off-axis. source:

2. What’s your dream destination?

I love Fernie, but that’s likely because I’ve been there. My favorite is deep pow and really long runs. I’d love to go cat or heli-skiing on a glacier – we talk about it with “the boys” but it is pricey

3. Do you have any suggestions for boarders and skiers sharing a lift?

Simple – communicate. Be cognizant that the skier wants to be banging his planks against your board about as much as you want the same so talk about it and be courteous. Which way are you going off the lift, left or right?  Simple question that solves almost all lift issues.

4. What are your thoughts on separating skiers from boarders with designated runs?

Bad idea. There is no reason that the two can’t co-exist. I’m kinda bored of the stories of the “boarder that was whipping down the hill with no regard for his/her surroundings and almost took me out at the knees…”  Guess what, I’ve got the same stories about skiers and I’m willing to bet that this issue was around before us knuckle draggers were “allowed” to co-exist on the hill. Realize that we are all there for the same reason – to have fun and be outside and the rest works itself out. If you’re going to get all worked up about that boarder/skier that cut you off, well then you haven’t found your happy place yet on the hill, and I hope that one day you will.

5. Are you teaching your kids to ski or snowboard?

I defer to the experts on this one. My kids are learning how to ski first because that’s what we were told to do. I don’t really think it matters to be honest. I just want them to learn to love being out on the hill for the day, the rest will be up to them. If they choose to learn how to board later on after becoming accomplished skiers, then all the power to them – now they have two skills instead of one.

And those my friends, are some valuable lessons for enjoying the outdoors.  Any thoughts skiers or boarders? Think we can all live in harmony on the slopes? Thanks for the great insights JP!

Ski Tip from the Pro: Train Your Brain

It’s almost December and I need to get moving. Other than squats and ski tune-ups, what can I be doing to improve the likelihood of having a great ski season? I consulted my friendly CSIA Level II ski pro and he told me I should start skiing now. Well, a handful of snowflakes is not going to get me far. What he meant was start the season in my mind: visualize to improve performance.

Many elite athletes routinely use visualization techniques as part of training and competition. There are many stories of athletes who’ve used these techniques to cultivate not only a competitive edge, but also to create renewed mental awareness, a heightened sense of well-being and confidence.  All of these factors have been shown to contribute to an athlete’s sports success….With mental rehearsal, minds and bodies become trained to actually perform the skill imagined.             source:

I’m not in the elite athlete category, but the benefits sound great so I’m happy to try. According to the pro, this is how you do it:

First, create a mental picture of what you want to achieve. The more detailed the picture, the better, so involve your senses and hear the sound of skis on snow, feel the wind on your face etc. (It’s been a while since I had a ski day, so thank goodness for CSIA and YouTube. Watching the technical reference clip refreshed my memory.)

Second, visualize frequently and consistently. Pick a time to take a ski run in your mind, before you go to sleep or right when you wake up.

That’s the very brief overview. If I do this right, these simple steps may help to train my brain (by creating new neural pathways, which I learned a bit about at the CSIA conference) and improve my self-confidence before the season even starts. They may also provide the basis for some very sweet dreams.

I’ve posted the clips I’m using to get a head start on my season.

  • CSIA’s Technical Reference
  • CSIA’s John Gillies & Natural Balance

  • CSIA’s John Gillies & Adding Skating to Your Skiing

Do you think it can work?  Can visualization make the difference?

Mt. Tremblant Celebrates 75

It may be time for a road trip. While we were counting snowflakes in Ontario this weekend, Quebec’s Mt. Tremblant was kicking off the start of the ski season with opening day on November 22.  They’ve had 3 inches of snow in the past week and the forecast is calling for another 4 inches of accumulation over the next few days.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the resort and their promo video includes some nice shots of skiing over the years. I think they could have picked a better soundtrack, but it’s fun to see the contrast of old and new. What do you think?