words: Christine Savage
photos: Yann Roy
The first stop of the 2014 Oakley Progression Sessions tour kicked off this past weekend at Blue Mountain Resort in Ontario, located about two hours northwest of Toronto and situated near the Nottawasaga Bay of Lake Huron. The resort is picturesque to say the least, with almost inescapable water views, and with the help of some lake effect snow, the girls were greeted on day one of OPS with just enough fresh to soften up the trails and make the conditions perfect for progression.
The roster of coaches for Blue Mountain included Oakley pros Kim Lamarre, Faye Gulini and Dominique Vallee, as well as Blue Mountain local ripper Jess Warll and head coaches Mary Walsh and Christine Savage. Kim and Faye had both just returned from the Olympics in Sochi, where Kim brought home a bronze medal for Canada in women’s ski slopestyle and Faye claimed fourth place in women’s snowboard cross. Having both of these ladies take the time out of their extremely busy post-Olympic schedules was especially awesome. Kim had only returned home to Canada a couple days prior and had been on a heavy schedule of television appearances, but despite the crazy schedule, Kim made the time for this weekend’s OPS. “I went to Progression Sessions at Le Massif in 2012,” she explained, “and I had so much fun there, so I decided not to pass up the opportunity to come back down again and cheer on the girls here.”
Participants were welcomed Saturday morning by goodie bags full of Oakley swag and the opportunity to build custom Oakley Crowbar goggles. Dom Vallee led yoga to make sure the ladies were all warmed up for the day on hill, and afterwards the group of nearly fifty took to the slopes.
The morning session focused on warming up and basics as the girls worked on perfecting their switch riding, ollies, and 180’s. After getting a gauge for where the girls were at and also establishing a good foundation for the freestyle tricks they would be working on later, the coaches brought their groups into the private OPS park. By the time the girls went inside for lunch, most had already tried (and many had landed) something new. It was a successful morning to say the least.
After a break for lunch, the ladies headed back out on hill. Some hiked features, while others chose to use the high speed park chair that allowed for extremely fast park laps. The snowboarders took advantage of a halfpipe clinic courtesy of Dom, who competed for Canada in pipe in the 2006 Torino Olympics. Many of the ladies had never even been in a halfpipe before, but by the end of the clinic it seemed that the pipe had gained quite a few new fans. The hiking continued at the pipe and at the private park, and the ladies kept dialing in new skills. By the day’s end the list of tricks learned was quite extensive, including first 180’s, 50-50s, boardslides, 360’s, and many more. The ladies ended the day with an aprés at Rusty’s in the village courtesy of Oakley; they had definitely earned it.