The Whistler Valley Snowboard Club got off to an informal but early start to the season on Saturday with the Nov. 5 opening of Blackcomb Mountain. A few of the coaches met up with a few of the riders to enjoy the surprisingly good early season conditions.
"It wasnt anything formal as far as coaching goes, but a few of our young riders were so excited to be back out there and we all like to ride together anyway," said Rob Picard.
The club was originally slated to start regular coaching on Dec. 3, but decided to move the start date a week earlier. The next two weekends will be spent on professional development for the coaches, registering kids for the club, and freeriding at every opportunity.
With snow on the mountains and the earliest start to the season in 20 years, registration is strong and there is a lot of excitement, according to Picard.
"The last week the phone has been ringing off the hook," he said.
The WVSC has a large number of young members, and several adult members from Japan. According to Picard the clubs goal for this year is to draw in more teens to the program and to the WVSC team. The team competes in freestyle contests halfpipe, quarterpipe, slopestyle, big air, rail jams and snowboardcross races across the province, in Alberta and even south of the border.
"There are a lot of great riders in that age group that ride here and that have so much potential, and thats the group we want to get into the program and eventually into competitions. The kids who start with us tend to stay with us for the long term, but we do have room for a few more teens," said Picard.
This year the WVSC has set more ambitious goals for its competitive program. Kids at a higher skill level will be encouraged to enter pro contests, while Picard hopes to field a full team at B.C. Snowboard Association provincial series events. In addition, the club will try to have a presence at events as far away as Alberta and in the U.S., leading up to the national championships.
Locally, riders will take part in the Sprite Park Rider Series in Whistler, and other pro and amateur competitions throughout the region.
"Theres no pressure on the kids that just want to ride with the club and work with coaches to improve their skills, but there are a lot of kids that are into competitions. Theyre fun, you get to travel and see other mountains, and theres a lot of opportunity there as well for the kids whod like to go pro one day, or want to compete with provincial and national teams," said Picard.