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Learning to ride... the hard way?

The best way to approach strapping in and sliding down



Whistler is something of a Mecca for legions of snow eaters around the world. Boasting two mountains with a total terrain of over 8,000 skiable acres and an average snowfall of 33.6 feet (over 10 metres) per year, its easy to see why people who were born and raised with skis and snowboards strapped to their feet are keen to call this mountain town home for a season or two. But there is a silent minority lurking among us - the non-skier.

Non-skiers, a group that includes non-snowboarders, move here for a whole host of reasons. They may be following significant others, they may enjoy one of the three other seasons (yes, Spring, Summer and Fall do exist in the "bubble") and outdoor activities on offer, or maybe, just maybe, they landed a decent job. While some of these non-skiers/sliders will continue to carry on life on solid ground, blissfully choosing to ignore the snow culture surrounding them, others will decide to strap in and take the plunge to see what they've been missing out on.

But what's the best way to go about learning to ride or ski as an adult?

Myia Bloomfield has been a snowboard instructor with Whistler Blackcomb for three seasons, but before coming to Whistler, she'd actually only been snowboarding two or three times. Bloomfield was inspired to become an instructor after she moved to Whistler and joined the mountain's Food and Beverage department, working at the Wizard Grill making coffee.

"I saw all the snowboard instructors every day, and they were having so much fun!" she recalled.

She ended up getting to know a lot of them and started riding with them. She even took advantage of the free lessons offered through her work.

"Every day I rode, I rode with people that were better than me, and so you just push yourself - and before I knew it, I was like, 'Sure, I'll huck into the Blackcomb Glacier. What is that? Oh my God!'" she laughed.

"I got better and better and then I was like, 'You know what? This is totally me!' I just really love to teach."

Bloomfield kept pushing herself on the hill, and eventually took (and passed) her level one snowboard instructor test. That's when she really started to get serious about learning to ride, putting in the mileage and doing "session" as often as possible. Session runs from 7:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. each working day, with instructors taking one designated run with a higher level instructor before the mountain opens to the public. In time, Bloomfeld's skills began to develop pretty rapidly, and she began to gain the confidence she needed to teach others.

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