- Learned to finally connect my s-turns, consistently
- Epic, 30-minute runs
- The Whistler Village (tons to do, eat, shop)
Tips, if you plan on going to Whistler
- It’s much colder on the mountain in Whistler. The sun doesn’t shine as much as it does on Cali mountains, so layer more than you normally would.
- Air Canada doesn’t charge the stated $100 for oversize bag fees (if you want to take your board with you) on their website. Canadians are cool like that.
- There’s a 2.5-hour bus/shuttle that takes you directly to the mountain with unforgettable views of Vancouver and the Whistler.
Season 2: Why I love it even more
Snowboarding is so much more mental than I had ever anticipated. I fall, I get up. I’m hurt, I’m sore, I’m tired, my legs burn but I keep going until I reach the bottom of the mountain.
Ever been one of the last ones to get down the mountain before it closes and notice the sun is quickly setting? I have. That alone scares the bejesus out of me to keep going.
The two things I love most about snowboarding are the challenges and outcomes. Once I master one skill, I’m forced to learn another. It’s a never-ending quest for constant skill improvement.
I’m addicted to gaining strength, speed and skills to maneuver down the mountain, but more than that, the noticeable change within me that I feel each time I board. I’m more confident, relaxed, less anxious.
Each time I improve, a mental “like” button is check marked in my mind.
Learning to love something always has a long-lasting affect on me, and snowboarding definitely falls into this category.
When I recall my first moments on a board last season, I was terrified. But I kept at it, and now, I’m just obsessed.
OK, back to Whistler.
It’s all about the board
Whistler was a pivotal moment for me.
I left my board at home because we saw that Canada Air charges $100 for oversized bags (they do NOT, but too bad they don’t note that on their website), but it all ended up working out for the best.
Because Whistler offers demo and performance boards, I was able to ditch the crap load of old-model boards I had been learning on, and rented a lovely turquoise Burton board.
The board itself was pretty basic, but it was my first time on a board this new (2017 model), and let me tell you, I was blown away.
Not only did this board help propel my skills to the next level, but I realized that snowboarding in general did not have to be this hard!
With this board, turns were effortless, and I was even able to gain enough speed on the flat parts of the mountain — something I had never been able to accomplish, no matter how much I jumped and crawled and shimmied, while still strapped in.
Burton to the rescue
The board was very forgiving. I hardly caught any edges. Although, I caught an edge while on an icy section. It was the meanest form of catching an edge, the kind that makes my heart sink, as I know I’m doomed to fall backwards (whiplash, anyone?) and land on my ass.
But this time, I somehow caught myself and miraculously didn’t fall. After the inexplicable recovery, I whispered a small prayer, thanking Burton for its high tech curves and forgiving edges.
Whistler’s epic runs
The first thing I noticed about Whistler was that it’s white. I’m not just talking about the people, either. [Kidding, but not really]. It was blinding, endless snow. It was hard to see at times, because it was so white you couldn’t even make out the shadows and dips.
The runs are long, so it would take us sometimes 40 minutes to get back down to the lift.
Compared to Tahoe or Kirkwood, the runs are wider and there are more flat parts and bowls. It’s easy to get lost, especially on a weekday ride when it’s not crowded and there aren’t other boarders to follow down the mountain.
We went down a bunch of blue runs and not having to get on a lift every 15 minutes was such a great change of pace!
Chair lifts… they no longer terrify me
Oh, the anxiety I’d feel on the Kirkwood lifts… those things are so fast, you literally have to slide off a pretty steep hill and hope that you don’t eat it too badly, otherwise, you’ll force the lift operator to pause the lifts. Not cool.
I’ve fallen off those chairlifts in every possible scenario imaginable. As I write this, a compilation of my past chairlift bloopers flash through my mind.
The worst was when I fell forward directly underneath the chairlift — don’t ask how it happened, I’m not sure either, but the lift operator yelled at me to “stay down!” so I didn’t get knocked over by the next chair.
Actually, the worst might’ve been when I forgot to let go of the chair. I leaped out of the chair and the same guy yelled (while laughing), “Well you gotta let go of the chair!”
The lifts at Whistler are gratifyingly slow. They almost come to a full stop to let you off the chair. This was a pleasant surprise and I suddenly felt so pampered.
I still fell a few times, but that’s to be expected. I just didn’t fall every single time.
Whistler was the best place to board faster and connect my turns on narrower trails. Normally, whenever I go down steep parts, I chicken out and can’t get myself to turn and face the mountain to connect the turn and stay in control.
I’d usually do a falling leaf to get through the steep parts, sadly watching everyone whiz by me.
Not this time. The mountain was pretty empty and I forced myself to turn, turn, turn, no matter how steep it was.
I fell a lot, but not as hard as I normally do. I ate it so badly on this one icy part. Alex witnessed the whole thing. It was so painful I couldn’t respond when Alex asked me three times if I was okay.
Practicing at Whistler on a performance board was exactly what I needed to get to the next level.
For once, I was able to keep up with my snowboard pals. Usually, I’m last or lag behind because I fell or failed to make it through a flat part.
Here’s a compilation of my Whistler runs.