Buttery Biscuit Base

Posted on Monday 23rd January, 2012 Times Viewed: 3859
Kaz Willmer reports from the BoardnLodge Snowcamps sponsored by Animal, in Nassfeld, Austria.

It's always the first camp of the season for us all, when campers old and new gather at Stansted Airport to relocate snowboard kit between backpacks, boardbags and bodies in order to convince Ryanair that we're legitimately allowed on the flight.
Anyone who'd crossed my path during the previous few days were confused and probably slightly scared by my pure excitement to be heading to the mountains for the first time in many months, but as the fun bus pulled into Nassfeld Hermagor, campers weren't afraid to show their elation at being back in one of the most awesome places in Austria.

The snow camps get a group of like-minded riders together to improve their riding with support from professional riders. This week it was Junior GB coach and professional snowboard trainer Steve Addicott, who was joined at the end of the week by Animal and Rome Snowboards professional rider Dom Harington.

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After stocking up at breakfast, we found ourselves doing at least an hour of trampolining each morning as the sun rose behind the mountains. It was not only an immense start to the day, getting us properly warmed up for riding, but also gave us the chance to practice our spins, grabs and flips, and gain more control over our air-time. Plus you can't deny how much fun trampolines are, particularly with a foam board strapped to your feet!

But we came for the snowboarding, and as always on the camp, every single person left a better rider. We come back on these camps purely because we've a support network of other campers who all support each other whether we're learning to butter or trying to land our first front flips. There's no pressure from anyone to do anything, and every little improvement feels good whether it's our own development, or that of our buddies.

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Westbeach sponsored Steve Addicott was on top form as always, and gave us the tools and confidence to hit natural features, to hit the park, and to perform tricks on the slope. We may have been riding on pretty much pure man-made snow (everywhere else in Austria was being buried, and we were riding in spring conditions!) but we made the most of it, and worked on our flatland tricks, spins, switch and ollies.

We spent a morning in the park too, and I achieved something I'd never even considered before riding a box in switch. Once we'd got our mind around it, it was a really fun challenge, and a great achievement! We also found some sweet tree runs and some untouched powder over the back of some of the runs amazing considering they hadn't had snow for a few weeks! Some of the guys tried front flips over the powder ridges, but others were just stoked to get their first taste of pow. My personal favourites were surviving a whole day with an egg in my pocket, and jumping off a tree-stump onto a blind landing, and riding it out!

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This year there were also a couple of prizes in store for the campers, thanks to Edward Lyons from Sports-Sight.com - the reigning Best SportsVision Practice in the country who can create prescription and non prescription sports eyewear. (See interview below!)

Thanks to a lack of injury, the 'worst injury' prize of Oakley's limited edition Fuel Cell glasses turned into a 'most improved' prize, which went to Matt McLaren for landing his first ever backflip. Matt's buddy Aaron had never been on a snowboard before the week started, but finished the week cruising the steep, icy home run with us an amazing achievement, landing him a pair of Oakley Splice goggles... as well as a cheeky Irish coffee in the apres bar on the home run!

But even if the campers didn't win physical prizes, everyone always gets something out of the week. We all come back year after year to train with Steve, purely because he knows how to teach our individual riding styles and riding aims, plus we've created such a tight-knit riding crew who loves to not only progress as individuals, but together as a group and embracing new crew members too.

Nassfeld itself is an amazing place complete with wide, empty pistes, plenty of backcountry, and many cheesy Austrian apres-bars busting out happy-hardcode remixes of kumbaya... made easier after several jagermeisters.

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We were also staying at the New Carinthia Lodge under the care of the nicest people ever to run a chalet Craig and Katharine who made us very welcome as always, and provided us with delicious food from breakfast through to dinner. The nights we went out for dinner turned into enjoying the Nassfeld Austrian hospitality... including experimenting with the hottest sauce known to man. It made men cry.

On the last day, everyone ended up on a powder run off the side of the t-bar, and thanks to Steve and Dom, not only did Matt conquer the backflip, but everyone hit a 20ft cliff drop or gave all their last energies into the team-built kicker. It was an awesome end to what was already guaranteed to be an awesome week.

BoardnLodge Snowcamps in association with Animal has several more snow camps running this season, in Pila, Chamonix and Morzine. For more information, check out their website or follow them on Facebook.



Because we liked the prizes so much and the importance of protecting your eyes on the slopes, here's a few words with Edward Lyons from Sports-Sight.com reigning Sports Vision Practice of the year.

Tell us what you do Ed.
I am an Optometrist and work with athletes and recreational sports people to assess and enhance their vision and their sporting performance using combinations of prescription eyewear, specialist contact lenses and vision training as appropriate. In April we won Sports Vision Practice of the Year 2011.

How long have you done that for?
I started in 2006 and now see clients internationally, including pro skiers/boarders, Premiership footballers, Rugby players, Cricketers and Olympic shooters.

What do you get up to when you're not working?
I love boarding so try to do that as much as I can, either indoors at Tamworth or away with the Animal Crew! Just recovering from a cracked Talus so havent done much since January!

Why is it important to protect your eyes on the mountain?
90% of all the sensory information we receive is visual, and it is easy to damage one or both of these delicate structures. Exposure to bright sunlight and glare is not only uncomfortable but can lead to Keratitis (Snow Blindness) migraines and even cataracts.
A carefully selected pair of goggles or sunnies can help you see the terrain better and protect you from dangerous UV, not to mention ski poles and tree branches.
On a tree run there is only one winner between an eye and a twig!

What's the best option for the mountains for people who wear contact lenses?
It depends on their prescription.

Generally Daily lenses are thinner, retain more moisture and easy to replace if lost or damaged. The new Acuvue Tru Eye lens is great. You may remember the funky red lenses I wore in Japan - they were brilliant and endorsed by Nike but were sadly discontinued so are no longer available. Some people find that lenses just dont suit them whilst on the hill, in this case, a prescription lens for a goggle or wrap around sunnies will be a great option!

What do you use to protect your eyes on the mountain? Why is that your choice?
Currently I am using the ID2 pure - I love the styling and the fit is fantastic. The lens change system is quick and easy and find that there is a lens for every condition, although I tend to stick to two whilst riding. The optics are great and there is no distortion at the edge of the lens - it doesnt tend to fog up either - a problem I have found with other brands. It also has a prescription insert housing, but I tend to ride in contacts. 

Where was your last snowboarding trip to?
My last trip was to Serre Chevalier in February but spent most of it sitting in the sun with my foot in the air! Prior to that it was an Animal Camp in Nassfeld in Austria - amazing times!

Best trick you've ever pulled on a snowboard?
Nollie front flip and a very slow switch nollie front flip were nice! The backflip that cracked my ankle, less so!

If you could design your ideal goggles, what would they be?
I think they've just been made! Zeal Recon Transcend Goggles actually have a Halo-style Heads Up Display inside which displays speed, altitude, map/piste info, mobile phone details etc all accessed using buttons at the front! BUT at, $450 a pair, its pretty expensive!

How can we find out more about what you do?
The company is called www.sports-sight.com and will be launching very soon. Its a division of my practice www.flintandpartners.co.uk (Phone 01902 422096, email edward.lyons@flintandpartners.co.uk.). Our web shop will soon be up and running, stocking all Adidas, Oakley and hopefully Dr Zipe snow products amongst other things. BoardnLodge Snowcampers are eligible for a discount coupon and we will also be offering spot prizes on future snow camps!#

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