FERNIE, BC — I’m a born and bred Londoner, but my life took an exciting turn three years ago when I took part in one of NONSTOP’s snowboard instructor courses in Fernie.
I didn’t stay on to teach, but hitting that legendary powder did enough to force me into the mountains more permanently, and I’ve spent the last year and a half in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France.
As well as changing my life, my three-week instructor course was a turning point for my snowboarding. NONSTOP’s team of excellent instructors ripped apart my technique and put back together again, which allowed me to ride far more challenging terrain, while having far more fun!
The stuff I’m hitting now in Chamonix is a dream when you’ve got that solid Canadian style.
NONSTOP really is an appropriate name for this company; it was a full-on three weeks! That suited me just fine though, I love snowboarding and I’ve always wanted to squeeze in as much as possible into my time on the Mountains.
Tips to work on
Going into the course, my only minor concern was that the theory of things might get a little boring and get in the way of riding. Those worries were brushed away within the first 20 minutes!
The first run on the first day started with riding maybe 100 yards on a groomed cat-track, before watching our instructor (Glen) launch off into a beautiful powder bowl. After watching us stumble a few times down that run, Glen spent 10 minutes giving each of us something to work on during the next descent.
This pattern continued over the course of the next three weeks. We were taken to some of the best areas of the mountain – the places that Glen and Ryan wanted to go themselves – all the while, having our technique refined and moulded with the most chilled out, pressure-free instructional style.
Towards the end of the three weeks, a little more seriousness was brought into the course as we were prepared for our Level 1. By this point all of our technique was pretty sound and we just had to learn how to pass that on to others. Thankfully we’d been on the receiving end of excellent teaching for a couple of weeks, so learning to do it ourselves was less of a challenge than you’d imagine.
It was just a matter of remembering the techniques for taking beginner and novice snowboarders through each stage of the development process.
Thankfully I passed my CASSI 1, as did everyone else on the course. It’s amazing to see that a couple of the folks that I was riding beside then went on to gain their Level 2s and are currently working as instructors in Canada … I’m not jealous… honest.
Good on them though. It goes to show, whatever your motivation, you can get a lot out of an instructor course. They wanted to become instructors and there was a very clear path for them.
I got just as much out of the course even though I didn’t share their plans – I’ve got some life-long skills and a completely different outlook on mountain riding.
For more stories and detail on Fernie check out our SnowSeekers' destination page.