Boom to the Animal Snow Camp crew

Posted on Tuesday 25th January, 2011 Times Viewed: 4032
The recovery position feels so good, but I'd do it all again if I could right now, and I just can't seem to wipe this smile. We've just returned from the first Animal Snow Camp of the season, and as my third year on these camps, I can honestly say they're just getting bigger and better.

By Kaz Willmer
Stansted airport was quite emotional as we said our goodbyes and our last group hug, before spreading our separate ways around the country. It's amazing what can happen in just a week, and when you find yourself wrapped up in a crew of snowboarders, all with the same mind for a week, it's hard to put it in words.

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Fifteen of us hit up the first camp of the season, some of us had met before, others hadn't, but we were all out on the Animal Snow Camps for one thing – riding progression. We were under the guidance of three professional snowboarders – Steve Addicott, Sonia Shaw and Kate Foster, who all left us better riders than when we arrived.

We started with flat land 180s and 360s, before taking them to the air. And that was just day one. By the end of the week, campers were landing front flips and back flips off cat tracks and wind lips. We'd start each day with some technical exercises on piste with Steve, then by lunch time we were putting them all together in practice.

Riding switch has always been a challenge for me, but after a morning with Sonia and Kate, showing us carving exercises in switch, I found myself looking down the slope, wondering which way I should be facing – proof that they can teach you without you even knowing. Later in the week, Steve took us down a powder line in switch. It's a such an amazing feeling when something just clicks, and it's down to Steve, Kate and Sonia for switching on riding lights for everyone on the camp throughout the week.

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The week was a mash-up of snow sessions, from early lifts to last light, riding under bluebird skies, fresh powder, park, pipe, on- and off-piste, building kickers, finding natural jumps, hiking the pow, or gapping rivers, before hitting up standard Austrian apres-parties for a couple of medicinal Jagermeisters. Dinner times were spent enjoying beautiful three-course meals in the chalet with wine and jokes about the day, before hitting bed, to do it all again the next day. The snow grins were injected on day one, and still won't go away.

We come back from Animal snow camps claiming each week was 'best week ever', and this week was definitely no different. But the truth is that they all are the 'best weeks ever', but just seem to get more immense each time.

The last night was spent in an Austrian apres-club on karaoke night, where we all numbed our aches, and made sure we felt terrible enough for our journey home the next day. Health and safety had obviously not hit Austria, when they handed out sparklers to a club filled with drunken snowboarders, but the jokes and dancing were a top end to an immense week.

The chalet was perfect as always, thanks to Craig and Katharine who know how to look after us, and just accept that what goes on camp, stays on camp. Steve, Sonia and Kate could not have been better, making sure that everyone left camp a far better rider, and were just as stoked as we were on the mountains. And if that wasn't enough, Nick did an awesome job of keeping camp under control. But my final love goes out to the entire crew on this camp, who supported everyone whether they landed a 180 or fell trying a backflip. Tears of laughter and tears of pain flew throughout the week, but every one of us knew we'd miss every second, which made it harder than ever to leave.

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I've just had a message from a fellow camper saying, “Do you have anything for Animal camp withdrawal symptoms?” The truth is, the only remedy is 6 weeks away on the Animal snow camps in Italy, where every one of us will be back, with plans to step up our riding even further than we did over the last week. We've all got our own aims in riding and I know when we step it up once again on the next camps, we'll be able to not just tick those boxes, but even more too. BOOM!



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Comments (237)  
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