I have worked as a ski instructor at prestigious resorts on three continents, but my Whitewater Ski Resort’s new snow school director position is heading up a program in Nelson which has always been my goal.
I got my skiing start in B.C. and Australia before spending three seasons as an instructor for the Swiss Ski and Snowboard School at a small resort outside of Zurich, Switzerland.
After leaving Europe I made my way to Nelson where I enrolled in Selkirk College’s Ski Resort Operations and Management program. I always wanted to come back to Nelson, but at the time when I graduated in 2007, Whitewater was still just a really small little hill and there wasn’t much going on.
Instead, I headed to Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Colorado, which is probably the premier resort in America but when Whitewater announced its plans to expand its ski hill, and a vacancy at its learning centre, I jumped at a chance to return to my old stomping ground. And as the resort attempts to become a major skiing destination worldwide, the snow school is undergoing its own sweeping changes.
While updated youth programs and cat and heli-skiing lessons are in the works for the 2010-11 season, it’s the new Whitewater Freeride Team that had me most excited. Free riding is a competition that isn’t based on time. There’s a start gate at the top of a run and a finish gate at the bottom, and skiers are let down the hill and able to shoot any path they want down through the terrain.
Most free ride runs are double black diamond rated or higher and make use of cliffs and interesting natural features. The skiers will be judged on how aggressive they are, how smooth and controlled they are, how creative they are with the terrain they’re coming through. It’s not as structured and rigid as racing, it lets the kids express themselves.
It’s more of a fun environment. There’s already a junior free riding circuit in southern B.C. that includes Red Mountain and Fernie, and local kids who follow skiing are likely already aware of freeriding’s growing popularity.
It’s the kind of stuff you see in the magazines and the movies and all their favourite action heroes for skiing are participating in these kind of events. New cat and heli programs, meanwhile, will introduce skiers to different styles of terrain and provide opportunities to ski those areas with instructors. Both new programs are about making the exciting more accessible to the average skier.
I want to position it, so if you want to get beyond cruising on the groomers, Whitewater is going to be your choice.