Snow School for First Timers: Never Ever Days
It’s a little strange to be a non-skier, non-snowboarder living in Whistler, where just about everyone is practically vibrating with excitement at the prospect of fresh powder and spending every free minute on the hill. My friends and work colleagues have been (gently) pressuring me to give skiing or snowboarding a try for a couple years now, so when I found out about Whistler Blackcomb’s Never Ever Days, it was the perfect opportunity to take that much-anticipated plunge.
Never Ever Days is set up as a special event that occurs once or twice in the winter season for a limited number of adults. It’s a low-cost lesson package ($25!) for those who have never ever skied or snowboarded before, and is a great introduction to snow sports. I chose to sign up for a snowboard lesson rather than skiing – being a total klutz, I figured at least with snowboarding you’re expected to fall a lot on the first day.
Getting the Gear
Being brand-new to snow sports, I didn’t own most of the proper clothing. Luckily, my supportive work colleagues came to my rescue, and I was able to borrow most of what I needed. If you are like me, brand-new to snow sports and don’t have the proper gear, but don’t have anyone to borrow from, don’t fret! Many of the ski rental shops in town offer jackets and pants for a reasonable daily rate — Spicy Sports, Black Tie Rentals, and Whistler Blackcomb Rentals to name a few. Gloves and goggles are considered personal items and are not typically rented out, but you can score some great deals at the Whistler Clearance Centre, Reuse-It Centre, or in the sale sections of many sports shops in the Village. Whatever you end up doing, you’ll want moisture-wicking base layers, a warm and waterproof jacket and pants combo, long socks, waterproof gloves, and goggles.
Never Ever Days
My Never Ever Days lesson met at the Garibaldi Lift Co. (GLC) at 8:30 AM, where I was matched up with my instructor, John, and three other snowboard newbies. John was great at getting us organized, and we were some of the first people in the rental shop for our boot fittings. The rental technicians are quick and efficient, and “walked” me through finding the right-sized boots – snug, but not too tight. Another technician set me up with my board and bindings. I thought I might ride with my right leg leading, but she attached the bindings in a way that meant I could switch if it turned out that left-leg-leading was more comfortable.
From there we headed up the Whistler Village Gondola to the Olympic Zone at mid-station. I was happy to see it was snowing – fresh powder means a softer cushion to land on during the first few inevitable tumbles, right? John got us used to the sliding motion of the board by having only one foot clipped in to the bindings at first, but he quickly moved us along to more of a slope where we could have both feet strapped in and begin to learn how to use our toe-edge. The magic carpet up the bunny hill was fun – it’s a large conveyor belt and all you have to do is stand there, so no need to worry about getting on and off a chairlift!
After an information-packed morning, we took a break for lunch and hopped back on the Whistler Village Gondola to continue to the Roundhouse Lodge at the top of Whistler. I was glad for the break – as I mentioned before, I’m clumsy, so I was falling on my tush, knees, and even my stomach a lot throughout the morning. It was nice to have about an hour to rest, eat some food, and warm up before tackling the rest of the day.
The afternoon went by quicker than the morning, but we improved at a faster rate too. John had us learning to turn in no time. I had no idea that snowboarding requires a lot of standing on either your toes or your heel – depending which way you are facing / turning. We all started to get the hang of it though, and by the end of the day I had even made it down one of the bunny slopes with only one brief tumble! I was sad to see the day come to an end just when I was starting to understand why so many of my fellow Whistlerites fall in love with snowboarding.
After handing in rental equipment and switching back to regular boots, it was time to relax at apres. The Never Ever Days instructors and students took over a section of the GLC, where we started, but there are so many fantastic places in Whistler to apres – have a look around at the various pubs and restaurants in Whistler Village to find your favourite! You’ll also want to make stretching a part of your apres routine to prevent soreness the next day – don’t forget this step!
All in all, my snowboard lesson was a success! I was super proud of myself for trying something new, and for starting to get the hang of turning before the end of the day. Snowboarding (and skiing too) are incredible ways to experience our beautiful Coast Mountains, and I gained a new perspective on the favourite hobby of my peers.