words: Christine Savage
photos: Yann Roy
As the ladies trickled in on Sunday morning to day two of Oakley Progression Sessions at Blue Mountain, Ontario, the meeting room was quiet and the vibe seemed a bit mellower than the day before. Bodies were tired and stiff from the previous day’s efforts and subsequent accomplishments. A thorough yoga session led by Dom Vallee addressed the aching muscles and by its’ end the OPS women were re-energized and ready for another full day of shredding.
Following yoga, the group of fifty snowboarders and skiers grabbed their gear and headed out to the mountain. The weather was brisk, but these determined women didn’t seem to notice or mind. Some groups bee-lined straight to the park, while others took the time to work on a few freestyle tricks on the trail like tripods and circle carves. By mid-morning the ladies were all sessioning the park and the stoke level was high. Skills learned just the day before were being taken to bigger boxes. Extra 180′s were being added on jumps. A group of women who had never even stepped foot in the park before this Blue Mountain OPS stop were now confidently hiking a jump with huge smiles on their faces. Some OPS participants had even decided to step up and challenge themselves at the larger jumps and rails in the main park.
Following a short break for lunch, the crew headed back out on the slopes for the afternoon session. Coaches were stationed throughout the park, giving the ladies the opportunity to ride wherever they would like in order dial in the goals that were still left to be checked off the list. The sun had peeked out from behind the clouds as if it were also trying to help in the process. Cheers could be heard throughout the park as the ladies faced their fears and added new skills to their repertoire. Participant Heather Gardner was one of a group of snowboarders who decided to attempt their first rail that afternoon, and together all successfully completed 50-50′s. “Everything about the weekend was so well organized,” Heather explained. “The coaches were wonderful and the community that is built [at OPS] is so welcoming that you can’t help but feel supported and in great hands when taking your skills to the next level. Having professionals supporting us and the community cheering us on definitely challenged me to try moves that terrified me, but I did them and it was awesome!”
Despite quickly dropping temperatures the ladies hiked until the bitter end, determined to reach their weekend goals. The jumps in the private park saw successful nose grabs, cab 180′s, and backside 360′s all go down within the last few drop-ins of the day . The ladies were running on pure adrenaline and stoke at this point, but they were killing it. When the last women hiking finally rode down, they were tired and sore, but glowing from the weekend’s accomplishments.
Everyone gathered inside for an awards ceremony to honor a few of the women whose positive attitudes and determination stood out throughout the weekend. The room was buzzing with energy as stories of the past two days were rehashed and hugs and contact info were exchanged. New friends and riding buddies made plans to keep in touch and talk quickly shifted to excitement for next year’s OPS when they could do it all over again. When asked about her experience at her first OPS weekend, 2014 US Olympian Faye Gulini said, “all the girls were really stoked, which gets me stoked. It’s so awesome to see how much the girls progress in such a short amount of time.”
A big thank you to all the amazing women who came out to Blue Mountain and made the weekend so incredible! Oakley Progression Sessions’ next stop will be at Loon Mountain, New Hampshire March 28-30th.