Another week, another newsletter … and so much has happened since we were last in touch, we’ve got heaps to report to keep you abreast of what's been going on over here in Banff.
On Monday, we headed back into lessons for the second week. The ski groups swapped instructors again to give everyone as much variety in their tuition as possible. There are only two snowboard groups so they swapped instructors – the group that had Rob for the first week took Andy and vice versa. It was especially cold up on the hill but the SnowSkoolers powered through undeterred. And it was bound to happen eventually: that evening, we had a quiet night in! After a couple of games of pool andtable football, people were able to catch up on home affairs and then get any extra kip that they needed in preparation for Tuesday's lessons when Sunshine Village really lived up to its name. It was a bluebird day with clear skies and lovely snow conditions. The ski groups practiced their drills and exercises, working on one-footed skiing which is great for balance and showing off! Ron's snowboard group finished their day up in the park working on jumps and little spins. After skiing, a group of 16 of us headed down to the local gym for a bit of a kick-about. We had three team captains and rotated players once a goal was scored. Elliott Knight showed his rugby-playing prowess by getting fully stuck in to his tackles while Felix Ashwood displayed his fancy footwork and speed. With everyone frantically chasing the ball around, Joe Edwards stepped up and showed his skills in goal, helping to lead his team to an overall victory. Back at the hostel that evening, the weekly pub quiz took place. Did you know … Q: The largest land animal to eat meat? (A: The kodiak bear) Q: The only big cat without retractable claws? (A: The cheetah) Sophie-Alice Baxter, Alex Williamson, Alana and Snowskool AJ took the crown for the first week but there’s little doubt it will be hotly contested each time around. We all took a moment out from the pub quiz to watch the first SnowSkool Banff video. Thanks Sam! It's incredible, check it out below!
With this week's day off from lessons on Wednesday some took the opportunity to practise the drills they'd been taught in their lessons – for example, Archie decided to dedicate an entire day to riding switch, which demands big kudos as that can be a really frustrating endeavour! Others opted for a day of R&R while the remaining few went for a day of park laps, honing their freestyle skills and pushing each other to really improve. Sam Freeman was working on his spins while Scott Briggs and Ben Kaye pulled a couple of 540°s out of the bag and Chris Glebocki landed his first Lincoln Loop (which was mentioned last week, if you were paying attention – it's a full-rotation barrel roll.) Joe, Euring, Adam and Henry spent the day at the ice rink dabbling in the very Canadian pastime of ice hockey. Back at the HI Banff that evening, open mic night kicked off with a bang when Richie Branch and SnowSkool Simon took to the stage to perform (slightly unrehearsed) renditions of Green Day, Oasis and Red Hot Chili Peppers songs – can’t have been too bad as they got in 5 songs before the next group stepped in to take over. A sign of great things to come? Talks have started with Barney, Max and David for the formation of the SnowSkool band for next week's open mic night.
SNOW!!! Our snow dances must have worked as 14cm of fresh, fluffy snow fell on Sunshine Village during Wednesday night and Thursday morning. The whole group was eager to get up on the hill and we managed to squeeze in 5 runs of shredding the gnar before lessons started. In chatting with instructor Andrew S, who has trained SnowSkool groups for the last 4 years, we learned that this year’s group is highly regarded – some say the best yet! They are relatively young but amazingly mature (sometimes!), attentive, inquisitive and genuinely interested in doing the best that they possibly can. In Andrew's words: “Holy Smackaroni!” That evening we had our weekly pool/table football/darts competition with a bigger attendance than last week. Tom O'Hanlon beat Euring in the second round of pool, but then went on to lose to AJ. In the final of pool and darts, AJ lost to Chris. He tried to make a bunch of excuses, but the scores don't lie. Chris, take a bow.
Friday brought the final day of lessons. There was still heaps of fresh snow so the instructors took some of the guys through the deep stuff as well as working on drills in preparation for Level 1 exams in a couple of weeks. That evening, a small group of us went to Norquay, Banff's most local resort, for some night riding. There has been a ridiculous amount of progression over just a couple of hours with Jesse Clark nailing a 720 on the flat box and Sam, Ben and Josh sessioning the big kickers. We rode at Norquay until 10pm (when we were asked to leave, as the slope was closing), arriving back at the hostel in plenty of time to join in the Australia Day celebrations, given it was officially already the 26th January Down Under. After a couple of drinks in the Storm Cellar, a huge group headed into town to revel in the festivities with the Australian inhabitants of Banff as well as those who assumed the status of honorary Australians for the day, like the rest of us.
We had a pretty energetic start to our day off on Saturday with a substantial part of our group heading up to Sunshine for the fresh snow and the Australia Day celebrations thrown by the resort. Others chose to take a stroll up Tunnel Mountain to take in the views over Banff. Meanwhile, back at HI-Banff, the hostel's events coordinator, Stevie, was cooking up a treat on the BBQ in the form of “Australian Burgers” (they had pineapple in them ...?) Burgers were eaten, beers were drunk, snow cricket was played and it's safe to say that Australia Day was a success. The festivities went on into the evening and made for a really great day. A few of the more energetic SnowSkoolers made the bold leap into town and, by all accounts, had a great night!
Up bright and early on Sunday, the sun was out and the air was cold. A bunch – Chris G's, Luke, Hannah, Andrew and both Sophies – headed up to Sunshine before another group, including Barney, Tom (both of them), Joe, Felix A, Elliot, Ross, David, Adam, Liam, Christian, Henry, Euring and Matt headed out to play some ice hockey (or simply “hockey” when you're out here in Canada). Everyone got kitted out with skates and hopped on the bus to the public rink near the Banff Springs hotel. Upon arrival, there were only a few children on the ice. Skip to 10 minutes later and these sprogs are skating rings around us, making us look pretty inept, apart from Barney and Tom O'Hanlon who are both insanely good at skating and hockey. There were a few others that deserve a solid mention, like Felix Ashwood who mastered the backwards skating in next to no time and Matt Miles who, as always, went into it with unrivalled enthusiasm and seemed to have a bottomless barrel of energy. We played solidly for two hours and it was both brilliant fun and painful at times. It was agreed then and there that this will be a weekly fixture from now on. We'll hopefully take Sam along next week, too, as some of the slips and tumbles were too funny to not film!
Speaking of which, in addition to some great photos of the group, below you’ll find some video footage that will give you a feel for where we’re staying and what we’re doing both at home and out on the mountain. Click here
to go through to the photos and/or click on the vid below.
Until next week,
AJ and Simon
Couse Hosts - SnowSkool Banff 2013
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