The Okemo Mountain School Snowboard Team is currently halfway through their OMS West Camp, held in the early season park and competition hub of Summit County, Colorado. The park infrastructure is very much alive there this time of year and the major players; Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, and Keystone all have a plethora of natural terrain, jibs, and jumps suitable for our athletes training needs.
The first day of camp, they spent the day at Copper Mountain with a couple of early morning warm-up runs, followed by some teammate support and moral boosting for sophomore OMS snowboarder, Margie Black, who was competing in her first World Cup halfpipe event, the US Grand Prix. Margie rode quite well and stomped both qualifying runs to land her in the top 20. A great feat for a young athlete competing against the world’s best including the likes of gold medalist, Chloe Kim, and bronze medalist, Arielle Gold. It was great for our athletes to see the caliber of the world’s best halfpipe riders and gave our team and younger athletes some insight on competing at the highest level. The rest of the afternoon was followed by some park riding in the notable Woodward Terrain Park which included a wide array jumps and jibs for the athletes to train on.
The team has spent to past three days at Breckenridge and the timing could not have been better. The Breck locals have said that this is the best early December conditions that many can remember and it is without a doubt, the best they have had for our West Camp. Breckenridge is nearly 100% open and on their first day, the mountain received 4-8” of new snow. It was obvious to coaches, Eddie and Luke, that they needed to stay out of the park and show the OMS snowboarders the real mountain. They did just that and attacked every open bowl and took the kids to the top of the Imperial lift (Elevation: 12,900 feet). This was followed by the tedious traverse to Peak 7 in which they took a ten-minute hike, to some killer bowl and tree runs. Air is thin up there and exhaustion can come quickly so they decided to spend the rest of the day at “lower” elevation (10,000 feet) riding Breck’s infamous Park Lane Park.
On Saturday, the athletes trained on the jumps and rails in Park Lane and they saw a tremendous amount of focus, effort, and improvement from the team. The collective drive and energy from all the athletes was great to see.
Yesterday they headed back to Breck and were surprised to see find that the mountain had received another 4”-12” (the latter depth at the higher elevations) of the lightest snow imaginable. Although the team was physically tired from three days of intense training, it was a given that they had to head back up to thinner air and the Imperial Bowl (12,840 feet) and get a piece of the fresh goods that dropped on Breck the night before. It was well worth it! Steep, deep, and bottomless fun gave way to deep turns, tomahawks, laughs, and hoots. That is what snowboarding is all about. It’s not just the next trick, or the result, but the experience and developing a love for the sport and the mountains. Although the athletes did spend the rest of the day in the park, experiencing the mountain in its pure and awesome form- will be the memories that will last with them forever.