One of Canadas world championship hopefuls didnt pick up a snowboard until he was 20 years old. He was a ski instructor at the time at a small mountain in Quebec, and only picked it up because there was a shortage of snowboard instructors. On only his second day of riding he gave his first lesson. And loved every minute of it.
Thus began the snowboard career of Dan Raymond, formerly of Aylmer, Quebec and currently of Whistler.
From those humble beginnings Raymond has gone on to earn every level of snowboard instructor certification available. He even wrote the coaching manual several years ago, and continues to train instructors at every level.
He also has his Level Three National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) certification, but wont be able to complete the practical part of his Level 4 until after he finishes competing and that could be a long time away.
"Im the nerd of Canadian snowboarding," laughed Raymond. "Before I even started competing I was a Level Four Instructor and was the head guy for the coaching program. Ive always been interested in the progression, whether its learning something new from a course book or learning a new trick.
"I was really interested in freestyle, and wanted to push that aspect forward. Im still trying to push that. You work hard to learn new tricks, but theres always more out there."
Raymond was added to the FIS Snowboard World Championships team at the last minute, edging out two national teammates for the one remaining spot in the halfpipe event. His top World Cup result from last season was sixth while competing at home in Whistler not bad for a guy who has only been competing for about four years.
According to Raymond, it was Whistler Valley Snowboard Club founder Rob Picard who originally encouraged him to start competing back when Raymond was coaching for their programs.
Raymond started his competitive career slowly, entering local contests and pro competitions before getting his first World Cup starts two years ago. With the encouragement of his girlfriend, Raymond has his sights set on competing at the Torino Olympics in 2006. Its a lofty goal for someone who picked up the sport late in life, but Raymond says that only makes him work harder.
"I was 26 at the time, which is unheard of in snowboarding because you have to jump through so many hoops. Some said I was too old, some said I didnt have the drive, but I kept pushing and pushing. Ive had injuries, and every time I went down someone would say that was it for me then I came back again," said Raymond.