The Saturday Night Hangout This girl’s snowboard session was hosted at Hemel’s Snow Centre on Saturday 27th February, 6.30pm until late where a selection of girls of all ages turned up to improve their riding and have some fun. The camps keep on growing and are creating a large network of boarders. I was thrilled to be invited back on the camp as after the last one I felt that my riding had been pushed to a new level and I had gained confidence. I also knew a few of the girls from the last camp were attending and I didn’t want to be left out!
The session always starts with a warm-up involving some silly but fun games and a few warm-up runs. It surprises me how few people warm-up before boarding or skiing or stretch out afterwards, however it is essential to do this to prevent pulled muscles and strains.
We go on to practice all our grabs, 180s and 360s over the kicker and our boardslides over the box under the critical but encouraging eyes of Jay (founder and coach of Maverix). Jay also checks we are all up to speed with the lingo. Do you know yours? I kept quiet when I forgot what the grab was called where your front hand grabs the toe edge in front of the front foot, and your legs are bent backwards bringing the board up towards your head. Jay enlightens us, “it is the Japan grab." I probably forgot what the ‘Japan’ grab was as I have never tried it as it sounds a bit too cool and a bit too hard.
The coaches are very good at quickly learning your ability and making sure they are pushing you. The group is not required to practice the same tricks; instead the coaches choose a trick that is pushing you as an individual. For example, while I am still practicing my grabs with the 180s, Kat Miller and Becky Menday have already been moved on to practice their 360s, as 180s with grabs are standard tricks for them. After lots of fun on the kicker, Jay decides he wants all of us to try or practice our 360s as he explains that they are easy. He takes us off the main slope to the baby slope to run through the technique and soon has us all practicing both the frontside and backside 360s on the piste. Once we have understood the correct technique we head back to the kicker to practice the 3s.
As the Maverix Camp has sole rule of the freestyle park there are no punters therefore the slope is free and there is no wait. This guarantees tons of runs and practice and you literally keep going all night. After all this I am knackered and escape off to make some notes. While I am in the comfort of the bar making some notes the girls have moved onto the box and are learning the nose press, or if already learnt, making it look more stylish. No rest on this camp!
What progression do you make by forking out on these camps?
Sian, who was in the Intermediate Group was on the last girl’s camp was taking on the airbag at Hemel’s Freestyle session the night before this camp; I did spot her looking a little concerned as she was braving front -flips and back-flips onto the airbag which was a surprising as she has not been boarding that long. A month ago she was tentatively trying frontside 180s and now after some practice she decided to step up her game and go in the advanced group and is now trying 360s and 180s with grabs.
At the last camp Becky Menday, who is only 11 years old and part of the Maverix Youth Team was perfecting bs 180s over the kicker, and this time she was working on the bs 180s with a method grab and being pushed to work on her backside 360s. She was also pushed to try her 360s in switch but I think she managed to sneak out of those.
Alise, a regular attendee of Maverix Camps and at Hemel Freestyle nights has had rapid progress. At the end of last year she was just starting to get the grabs over the big kickers, and now every time I see her at Freestyle nights she is throwing down a new trick, which is all thanks to the Maverix coaching. I didn’t realise you could get this good so quickly, until each week I see Alise going from strength to strength; currently she is working on frontside 360s on the big kickers, 50:50 on the side on rails and all type of cool moves on the boxes.
Maverix’s is for Freestyle Virgins too I have been rambling on about the advanced group as that is the group I got to experience for the evening, however the majority of girls that attend the camps have had very little experience of freestyle or in many cases none at all. So if you are looking to kick start some freestyle skills with an all female group do not be put off by my lingo of 360s, side on rails etc, as remember I have been boarding for a long time. Leah from the Conspiracy Snowboard Shop was head coach for the beginner/ intermediate group, sharing her technical knowhow and great experience of freestyle. Leah and Jay had also called in Alice Blake, a Salomon and Bonfire sponsored rider to help assist and add a bit of youth, style, and some damn good skills to the training. Not to forget was her shouting ‘sick’ every time someone made it over the box for their first time.
I catch up with Susan Dyer from Luton who is in the beginners group to get some feedback. I learn that she has only done 4 weeks of boarding prior to the camp and has never set foot in a park. I speak to her after the camp and she is buzzing, she tells me that she has surprised herself with how much she has achieved. After 3 hours of coaching she has nailed the indie grab and braved 50:50s over the box. This can be put down to the great coaching and moral support from the girls.
Why is Progression so fast?
Jay and Leah are putting all their energy into increasing our performance and getting the most out of us. Our progression is helped by the fact that we are able to practice in a non pressurised environment on custom built park features by the Maverix team, and with to the point instruction. The Maverix Just Chicks are creating a female social environment where you can meet other like minded girls and to make some new friends to ride with. I am a regular at Hemel’s Freestyle Nights and I never venture onto new tricks when I am there; I worry about looking like an idiot as the hot freestyle dudes are pulling their 720’s over the kickers, crazy tricks on the rails and some showing off with their back-flips. I know it is lame but I sometimes feel intimidated by the teenage sponsored lads with their t-shirts down to their knees. And you know that when you plummet head first into the snow that they all seem to spot you while they are listening to their tunes and heading up the lift. Yep, I decided a while ago that it is best to stick to what you know at the Freestyle nights. However, at a girl’s camp it is completely different as you know that everyone is there to learn. Even our best girl riders are stacking it as well as the complete beginners as everyone is being pushed to learn new tricks and style. And it must be great for the freestyle virgins as they are all cheered at, for say making the box for the first time. They can also see the girls in the advanced group stacking it just as much as they are as everyone is being pushed out of their comfort zones. Progress happens as you feel comfortable and safe in your environment rather than feeling under pressure from the prying eyes of the snowboard dudes.
Maverix are also making an effort to make the camps ‘Girlie’ as well as ‘Hardcore Training’ as after our riding we all got offered drinks and cake, encouraging us to all stick around for a bit and have a chat. I believe that future Maverix Snow Camps are also going to supply goodie bags which are made up of the usual boarding merchandise as well as some girlie products which I can help supply such as false eyelashes and makeup. I am finally experiencing a female snowboarding club thanks to the Maverix Snow Camps and it is nice to have the slopes to ourselves rather than always having to fend for a space with a bunch of over testosteroned males. Nice one.
Join the UK Female Snowboard Club! See maverix.org for more information on the courses available. You can also keep in touch with Maverix and hear about the latest courses by joining their Facebook group.
Maverix Tips and Tricks
Frontside 360s – You should go into this trick with positivity and think that it is not that hard and it is really only a 270 (or at least you can get away with that). Jay says “girls hear 360 and think, shit that is really hard, but it is not, and if your mind is thinking it is possible, then it is." The key tip that I picked up is that as soon as you get air you must turn your head and start looking to where you are going to land as this will bring your body and your board round. Your head must move or it will halt your rotation. Even if you do not land a full 360 (i.e., your board is not facing directly down the slope) but your head is facing directly down the slope it will cause your board to smoothly slide round and you will ride out looking like you have made a full 360.
Kickers and Spins – Getting the spins over the kickers requires a good run-in; Jay talked us through the principles of this to help us achieve smooth and ‘slam’ free spins. Jay says “you want to achieve the best line into the jump by heading towards the direction of the way you wish to turn." For example, when lining up for a frontside 180 (I ride Regular) I want to be coming into the kicker from the right hand side and then turning the board slightly to the left, heading towards the middle of the kicker. By doing this, as I take off my board is already turned in the direction of the spin, so I do not have to do a full 180 degree turn but more like 120 degrees. If you ride Goofy, then the opposite applies.Jay says, “By getting the run-in right you are helping yourself to an easier rotation." A common mistake is to start turning on the kicker prior to take-off but by doing this you will lose speed making it harder to make a full turn in the air. In the worse case it can cause some nasty slams as you are at risk of catching an edge.
Written by Catherine Peck, sponsored by Salomon Snowboards, Bonfire Clothing, Ski Club of Great Britain, Hemel Snow Centre, Party Dress, Stick On Bra and www.undercover-glamour.com