October 16, 2009 @ 8:47 AM – Features: Sports
Girls take aim at picking up some freestyle skills… Definition Camps ‘define your riding.’ Hemel Snow Centre,
If you are a fan of Cooler and love reading about all these rad snowboard chicks who have skills that you only dream off then take note, The Definition Camps will be for you.
Gavin Learmonth, owner of Definition Camps runs Entry Level Freestyle Weekend Camps. I and six other girls have two days of nine to five, of intensive coaching with Gavin and pro rider Sam Cullum and the aim is to get all girls to master a few tricks by the end of the camp.
Gavin is one of Britain’s highest qualified boarding instructors and was the former coach to the British Snowboard Team for four years – so he for sure knows his stuff. Edel, from Bournemouth tells me she has come on this weekend camp because of Gavin. Edel says: “Gavin is a best instructor for me as he pushes me gradually which makes me feel relaxed and confident.” Edel has been lucky enough to have Gavin coach her for two weeks in Bansko, Bulgaria and has been on another Definition Camp and is planning her next one – so this gives me confidence that I am going to learn a thing or two too…
Gavin used to teach Sam Cullum back in the day so it was nice to know that Sam enjoys helping him out on his training camps. As most will know Sam is a snowboard pro and is on the British World Snowboarding Team, sponsored by DC, Oakley, Suso, Clast, Grenade, Skulkandy and the snowboardshop.co.uk. As well as this impressive list, Sam is also fit so all the girls were dead pleased that we had him for a whole two days, or at least I was! Sam has managed to fit the coaching in with his jet set boarding lifestyle. He is off to Hintertux, Austria the day after the camp to train with a friend to prepare for the Metro Ski Show where he will be showing off his skills and then for LG Freeze to compete.
The girls tell me at the end of the camp that they rate Gavin and Sam, and all agree with Emily who says “they are not on an ego trip and have been mega enthusiastic to improve our riding rather than worrying about showing off their own skills.” Which lets face it, most men can’t help themselves but to show-off.
I am interested to know why Sam enjoys coaching Freestyle Beginners, especially since he has a life that has involved snowboarding around the world and even having the opportunity to drop in at the DC Mountain Lab. Sam tells me that he loves teaching Freestyle as he finds it very satisfying to see people go away with new skills and seeing them feel proud as they have pushed themselves outside of their comfort zone and been shocked with what they can and have achieved.
Gavin says he prefers to run weekend camps rather then sessions that last a few hours as he wants the group to have time to chat and get to know each other rather than just coming to ride. Having the time to have a gossip with the girls over a coffee in the morning and having lunch together makes you feel in a team which makes you feel safer when learning new things. You will come away with some new boarding friends as well. Gavin is also a great believer that the right technique on the slope should be in place before you start progressing to Freestyle. He explains that one of the most important things to doing a rail or jump successfully is the run in, so the first morning is taken up with making sure our knees are bent and pushed outwards rather than inwards, our weight is on the ball of our feet or on the outside to help keep our knees bent outwards.
The rest of the course sees us practicing 50-50s and board slides over a box and rail, jumping over ski poles practicing our ollies, and busting as much air as poss over the small kicker. We had rad coaching as we had Gavin giving us each his personal ‘know how’ before we did each trick and then the bonus of holding Sam’s hand to help us get the right balance over the rail and box. New tricks always equal many stacks so it was cringing to have to watch them later. And if that was not uncomfortable enough we also had running commentary from Gavin analysing what we were doing right and wrong. I was keen to learn new things on the camp as I have just got stuck in a big boarding rut doing the same tricks that I feel safe with. I had a weekend of practicing the frontside boardslide and putting in a grab with my 180s so along with the girls I too feel like I have come away with new areas to develop. I defo have plenty of work to put in before anyone will be calling my frontside boardslide sick.
The girls overall improvement was impressive and I was shocked to see the girls making 180s look pretty sick by the last session. The two day course was definitely worth the dollars as all the girls can now rock into their boarding holidays with a few tricks up their sleeve. And to make the course really worth those dollars we all got the chance to hold Sam Cullum’s hand!
Definition Camps are running further girls freestyle camps at Hemel Snow Centre on the following dates:
Written by Catherine Peck, sponsored by Salomon Snowboards, Bonfire Clothing, Ski Club of Great Britain, undercover-glamour.com