Ryan’s Blog: Relishing the return of winter

Ski Club Leader Ryan Davison Crisp has skipped Europe to spend an entire season in Whistler. It’s been a long time coming, but Canada’s Coast Mountains have finally dished up some of their fabled deep snow.

Ryan Davison CrispI feel it thoroughly appropriate to apologise for my absence over the past few weeks. You see, the thing is, Ullr clearly paid attention to the snow prayers set forth in my previous entry. Since then, it has barely stopped snowing out here in Whistler. We’ve received over 7 feet of fresh powder since my last update and whilst I feel a tinge of guilt in neglecting you fine readers, sometimes an old adage really does prove true: there are no friends on a powder day! And there have been a lot of those recently!Of course, I am only kidding, there sure are friends on said days, but before we get to the good stuff, the small matter of me successfully navigating my ski instructor training should be discussed.

Yes, I am now actually quite proud to announce that I passed my CSIA ski instructor course. However, unlike Messrs TJ Burke and Dexter Rutecki from my favourite ski movie, 1993’s Aspen Extreme (remedy at once should you not be familiar with this classic), the process of me becoming a qualified ski instructor involved a lot more than their famous ski off. Yes, simply surviving a challenging bump run was not to be.

Perfecting one’s snow plough and intermediate parallel turns were however. I’m not going to lie, there were many times I wished to be back in the early-nineties, standing a-top a bump run, dressed in my retro finery. Rutecki and Burke never had to snow plough, a wedge turn nowhere to be seen! I certainly don’t recall seeing any ‘Paddle your Canoe’ drills! (OK, I admit, this was a little too much fun)

My training with ALLTRACKS Academy has steadily ironed out creases in my technique, tweaking bits here and there, ultimately making my skiing reflective of the CSIA model. After several weeks of training (not all drills I should add, we’ve been skiing everything we can and enjoying every minute) we begun our three day Canadian Ski Instructors Association course on Whistler mountain. Part of our training has seen us gradually build up the ability to be able to conduct a lesson, see what could be tweaked in a person’s technique and develop a knowledge base of how we can help assist these tweaks. Therefore, as a group, the students of ALLTRACKS Academy were thoroughly ready for the three day assessment. These three days begun with a day of personal ski development, followed by two days of us demonstrating technique, our technical understanding and how we would carry out a lesson plan.

The course has completely changed the way in which I now look at ski technique. Viewing skiers from the lift has completely changed for me now. Skiers that I once would have looked at and thought were very good, I am now seeing technical flaws and immediately thinking of what may help them. It’s a very interesting and worthwhile tool to have, understanding technique, particularly so when assessing yourself.

CSIA Level 1... complete!

CSIA Level 1… complete!

Personally, the ability to properly self assess is the key thing I will take out of this instructor training. Us mere mortals of the ski world all have our own personal technique demons. Many will happily ignore such deficiencies, embracing them throughout their skiing lives. And don’t get me wrong, that’s fine. The main thing is enjoyment, right? Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. However, for me, that is no longer the case. I can detect the very second I start doing something funky and now know how to work it out. Of course, this will be an ongoing battle with my inner ski demon, but I am pleased this tool of self assessment will join me for the rest of my ski days. It is with that I would thoroughly recommend such training.

Snow in the valley

Snow in the valley

The other good point to all this training, and getting back to my original mention of the ‘good stuff’, was that when winter decided to return to Whistler, the students of ALLTRACKS Academy were ready, techniques honed, primed to make the most of the pow. And boy, let me tell you, we’ve been doing just that! Once the snow started falling earlier in February it has barely relented. Almost as if Mother Nature was embarrassed in her neglect of British Columbia, she’s proven furious in her attempts to make up for her momentary lapse. Dry January has been utterly forgotten now, the town has been transformed into a wintry paradise, more befitting of a resort with such legendary snowy reputation.

Trainers from Whistler Blackcomb Snow School sniffing out powder stashes

Trainers from Whistler Blackcomb Snow School sniffing out powder stashes

Now I’m not one to gloat and I truly hope you have all enjoyed powder turns this season, but it would be remiss of me to not tell you all of how epic the powder has been out here. I reserve that word for only the finest, but it must be used here: Epic! We’ve enjoyed fresh tracks on many an occasion. Face shots? You bet! The famous tree skiing of Whistler Blackcomb, rather unexplored in January, has provided endless opportunities for powdery goodness. And best of all? Our instructors know all the secret spots, so even when things begin to get tracked out, we’ve still managed to find fresh lines. Winter has most certainly returned to Whistler and there are a bunch of new instructors that couldn’t be happier to see it. Here’s hoping March proves just as awesome.

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Ryan Davison Crisp



  1. Reblogged this on activeflick and commented:
    Good read. I extremely miss this lifestyle! After moving to the island my skis were put into storage and I took up surfing. After watching ski cross and alpine at Sochi I have really been missing the slopes!

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