Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Carrabassett Ski Academy Regrets

From Backcountry.com sponsored athlete Kim Havell comes this report of her experience coaching a big mountain/freeride camp in British Columbia. She not only had a great experience but came away with a couple of "what if's"

If I could do it all over, I definitely should have gone to ski academy.

This past week, I traveled up to British Columbia, by way of Calgary, to help coach a free ride/big mountain program from Carrabassett Valley Academy. The program is known as ALPS- Alpine Leadership Pursuits for Skiers and Riders.

Program Director Sam Punderson and I had met doing a backcountry ski test for Skiing Magazine last spring in Winter Park, had hit it off in a fairly sarcastic manner, and stayed in touch. Sam was looking for a guest female coach to come work with the girls in the program, and offered me the spot.

Sam aka “Dad”, assistant coach Bushy “Mom”, and Mike “Big Bro” comprise the all-star coaching staff of this fabulous newer twist on the ski school program. The kids are divided into three different groups according to level of skiing and motivation/passion for their sport. The coaches rotate through each group, and each group rotates through different activities including avalanche training, sled skiing, “slack” country touring, wilderness medicine and more. To think that most of us could have gotten this type of training ten years before moving to a ski town is quite regretful.

Back in Maine, these kids ski six days a week for a least four hours a day. The team also travels several times a year to such exotic locations as France, New Zealand, and Chile. On trips such as this one, they are away from school for three weeks on the road, learning to balance all day ski adventures with the discipline of studying in the morning, lunchtime and at night.

Starting in Kicking Horse, we spent a couple of days gliding around the mountain, and exploring the vast hike to terrain options. We were hammered with snow the entire time and there was great fresh every day. The third day we headed up to Revelstoke by way of Roger’s Pass- a must hit touring area for the backcountry aficionado. With a new gondola and lift, 4,700 vert, incredible annual snowfall, and incredible “slack” country access, Revelstoke is positioned to be the next “it” resort.

Blowing through faceshots that morning with the girls, we watched some of the guys hucking off 40-50 footers into the deep new powder. With grads such as Jeremy Jones “93 setting a standard, these kids will be feeding directly into the bigger comps and probably begin a serious domination at some these events. Watch out pros, these ski academy kids are the very real deal...

For more information on how to send yourself (or your kids) to this great ski academy, visit the Carrabassett Ski Academy Big Mountain Program:

Sam would be glad to hear from you.

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