Whilst I sit here at Heathrow Airport, beer and laptop at hand, waiting to board yet another long flight to Vancouver for my now annual stint in Whistler, I find myself reflecting on my time out there. You see, I’ve become somewhat of a Whistler Blackcomb fan boy, a regular fixture on both hills, the many bars and fine restaurants, dare I say it, part of the snowy furniture out there. Tomorrow I’ll be standing atop some loved run, steep couloir or snowy bowl I know intimately by now, but for the time being, I simply reflect.
Alltracks Academy is to blame for my annual affliction! OK, I had previously fallen in love with Whistler some five or six years ago, but it was my time on the Alltracks instructor and off-piste combined course that cemented my love affair with this epic corner of the world. I’ve been very fortunate in my ski life to have skied all over the world, spending many weeks in Europe, Canada, the USA and Japan; all that and still, many of my fondest ski memories are found in my time with Alltracks.
I joined Alltracks with quite a bit of ski experience already built up, but boy was I in for a shock. I still had so much to learn. And I did! Easy (well, after a few bouts of self doubt and such, part of the rebuild process, it’s natural). How could I not learn when skiing with some of the top pros in Canada? Seriously, this is one of the things I commend the Alltracks programme for. The level of pros you’re skiing with is immensely top notch. Each and every Alltracks pro I skied with I got on with personally, but more importantly, I was inspired by their skill and ability to imprint their message into my own ski legs. Orchestrated by the truly amazing Guy Hetherington, sporting crush aside (hey, don’t judge till you ski with him!), the team of pros he has put together will be there to inspire you, push you, crush your bad habits (yes, you have them!), and build you into a better skier than you could ever imagine being. Boarders don’t fret, the famous Yuki manages that area and from what I’ve heard, she’s as good as it gets. You’re learning from the cream of the crop here people.
Which brings me to my main point. Quite simply, if you’re serious about your skiing, Alltracks is an investment for your future skiing or boarding. You’ll be cashing this wintry investment in each season that follows. Not only do you improve immeasurably on this programme, they arm you with the tools to continue your development on your own dime. I felt like I left Alltracks the best skier I would ever be, but it’s simply not true. Three seasons passed now and I’m twice the skier I was then (hopefully the coaches would agree…), because I developed the key tools by these top CSIA pros to keep working on myself. I left knowing what could be better, what were my lazy flaws, what my strengths were, how to spot funky goings-on, and so forth. That, for me, is priceless. I paid for an amazing season, a means to improve my skiing, further my experience, add more miles under my skis, have a blast with new found friends, but I left with so much more.
Yep, I left with so much more, for not only did I leave with new skills, my ski future safeguarded for my years to come, but I also amassed a whole bunch of friends for life. Ski buddies for the future. Apres partners in crime. People that all had so much in common, thrown together in an amazing environment to have the best time possible. Legends were made and broken, we had the time of our lives! Believe you me, as a place to call home for a season, Whistler allows for this. It has everything you could want in town. Hey, as I say, I keep coming back, year after year. Never been bored once.
Anyway, stop thinking about, do it. You won’t regret it. Alltracks Academy will take your ski or boarding not only to the next level, but to a level you’re yet to fathom. You’ll party, meet great new people, all in one of the most epic resorts in the world (trust me, I’ve skied most of the contenders). You’ll see the mountains with different eyes, you’ll learn about the “backcountry”, technique, your own level, your own limitations, your own goals. Heck, stop reading my review, ring Paul Beard (he’s very helpful and will always try and accommodate your season hopes and plans) and lay down that deposit. Life’s short, you may as well spend your winters at the top of your game. As I say, safeguard that future. Become an Alltracks graduate. Be the rider you dream of.
Hopefully I’ll see you on these amazing hills in the future. But for now, I best finish this beer, my flight is calling. Whistler beckons… again.. and I’ve a sneaky feeling it won’t be the last time. There’s something rather magical about this place.
It's excellent as it is. I guess, I would have liked to do even longer. Maybe a more backcountry focused aspect. Oh wait, they've added that...