Claire is a biochemical engineer currently completing a PhD in London. She started snowboarding three years ago whilst working for a biotech firm in New Zealand, when her friends persuaded her to go up with them at the weekends. Since then she’s had a two week holiday in Fernie and spent a week in Serre Chevalier. She’s hardly done any freestyle, and decided to come to camp so that she could have more fun playing around on the slopes.
“I’m much better at learning from instruction than by just picking it up myself, and I get nervous learning around boys. They look so confident and it somehow that makes me feel less confident, so I just don’t give it a go. After this week, though, I do have more confidence, so now I’d be prepared to give things a shot even if I was not nearly as good as them. I felt a lot better doing the jumps today. I managed to get some air and actually I enjoy getting speed to go into the jumps now, whereas before it freaked me out – I barely even got up the jump when we first did it.
“It’s nice to know that I can do the spins, too, even if it’s just low off the ground. We were trying spins off the banks on the side of the boardercross, so it wasn’t scary, it was just a case of getting used to getting around. I didn’t think I could do it at first but I can – now I don’t have to worry so much about the take off and spinning bit, I can start working on shifting my weight over to my front foot. Oh, and I did some good ollies today – we just watched it on the video. You can actually see my board go off the snow! And it felt good too – it felt solid. I was getting my knees up, getting my shoulders right.
“Gilly helped me to see what I do wrong, which means that now I’m able to correct it. I’m a scientist: I need that blow-by-blow breakdown. I like to have a set of instructions and to analyse how I’m doing something – that’s just the way I process things. And I feel a lot more confident and a lot happier now. I had a crap second day; at first I thought that the other girls were so much better than me, but now I realise that’s just because most of them have been snowboarding for longer. Actually Michelle and I are pretty much at the same level, so I’ve realised that what I can’t do is just down to my lack of experience, not because I can’t inherently do it. This week has set me up so that now when I go on my next holiday I’ll try some 180s and to ride switch, and practise some hits on the side of the piste – it’s given me the confidence to try stuff on my own.”