Many female snowboard camps are aimed at women in their twenties or younger but when you’re older (in my case much older) time and fitness can be an issue when trying to get your snowboard fix. Careers and family commitments can make getting away hard so time on the slopes is precious. Plus ‘roughing it’ becomes less attractive and sleeping 4 to a room the size of a broom cupboard is not my idea of fun.
Last year Tammy Esten from MINT snowboard school in Morzine, France decided to put on the first ever dedicated over 30s female camp. MINT joined forces with Mountain Mavericks and together they provide ‘Just Snowboard Camps’- luxury accommodation with top class tuition. The camp ran for 4 days at the end of March 2010. There were 9 women ranging from 30 – 41 years. The majority of us travelled from Europe but Marissa came all the way from New York (she’d obviously heard of Tammy’s reputation!) We were separated into 2 groups based on ability and each group alternated between 3 hour morning lessons and 3 hour afternoon guided sessions. The more advanced ‘gnarly’ group consisted of 4 people and there were 5 in the less advanced self named ‘numpty’ group.
Day 1: Unfortunately we woke to torrential rain; not a snowflake in sight. We didn’t let this deter us and as older, wiser women we knew every cloud has a silver lining – the slopes were almost deserted. After a couple of warm up runs we worked on foot steering and technique. Tammy worked on our turns and where we felt pressure on different parts of our feet. Despite the rain we played games on the chairlift. Even on the 6 man lift we were so distracted that not one of us fell getting off.
At lunchtime both groups met and dripped puddles on the restaurant floor. Most of the numpty group, with the exception of ‘hardcore Hardeep’, wimped out of the afternoon cruise time and headed back to the hot tub and then shopping in town. After a fantastic 3 course meal we did a quiz and decorated ‘Minty’ (MINT’s gangster cartoon character) with some tinfoil bling – I’ve never seen so many silver teeth and facial piercings!
Day 3: The sun made a welcome appearance today and thankfully stayed all day. We numpties/ jibbers had our lesson in the morning which started quite icy but the snow soon softened. We headed back to the nano park after practicing ollying again and spent time on the kickers and rainbow box rail. Unfortunately for Nikki she also spent time on her face and ended up with a real ‘shiner’ of a black eye: not to be deterred she carried on like a committed hardcore boarder.
We spent so much time in the park we had to hurry towards Linga for lunch. As a more leisurely i.e. slow boarder I bowed out at Lindarets and lunched on my own: a 2 hour lunch sitting in a deckchair working on my tan whilst having my obligatory French crepe was marvellous (just don’t tell Tammy!). I then headed back to Avoriaz to practice fakie and bumped into ‘group gnarly’ in the big park.
I was kindly invited to join them and had a go although this was more intimidating with many men hanging around to watch. But as Tammy pointed out they were watching whilst the women were doing – just like life really! In the evening, after yet another delicious three course meal, Tammy talked us through the video taken the previous day: a bit cringey but necessary as it really helped pinpoint mistakes.
Day 4: This was my favourite day as we had glorious views of the nearby mountain range including Mont Blanc, warm sunshine, clear blue skies and empty slopes. We were at Mont Cherry near Les Gets. After a couple of guided runs 3 of us headed to the mountain restaurant to drink in the view and a hot chocolate. In the afternoon we practiced turning with hands on our knees which, ironically, was great for feeling what your feet were doing. I don’t know how it works but it does.
We also practiced running our boards flat in the fall line which on parts of the red run was a bit scary. I found that I am more controlled on my heel edge than toe edge. By 3 o’clock we were the only ones on the slope and sitting on the chairlift in the sun listening to the birds was magical. We finished up in the park doing some kickers and a box rail. In the evening we celebrated Nikki’s birthday with a meal in Morzine and drinks ‘til late.