Chapter 1 – Where It All Begins!
Hey there! My name’s Laura, but most people call me, “Lu”. I’m keeping a blog of my adventures and life as an Australian in Canada and specifically in Whistler. I have a lot of personal goals I want to achieve and I’m hoping to use a blog as a way to track that and ensure there are others who are keeping me honest!!
Now, I’m bracing myself for the collective sighs of those reading. I mean, it’s not like 422,052,001* Aussie’s before me haven’t already made this trek, and I’m pretty sure about the same amount will do it after me. But, bear with me!
I’ve moved here from the super exciting city of Canberra with my husband Dan (also another snowboard obsessed tragic) and my two dogs, Tiger & Jade. You’ll probably hear more about them, and they’ll likely show up in more pics, as I continue on throughout the season. We’ve decided to move, because we’ve been lucky enough to visit Whistler twice before and when we left in March of 2012…we decided we wanted to come back one day and ideally make a proper move of it. Now, we’ve settled ourselves into our new suite in Whistler and the flakes are starting to fall and the season is now ON!! It’s that time of year we’ve waited for, for ages! It’s such a novelty to wake up in the morning with snow everywhere and it even gets the dogs super hyped!
I’ve been snowboarding on and off for the last 10 years, but really only for the last 6. In 2012, I obtained my APSI Level 1 Snowboard Instructor certification and started to challenge myself a lot more with my technique and my abilities. Which, is still something I’m working on, to this day!
I would say overall, I’m an advanced level snowboarder, but have lots of room to grow and develop my skills, which is something I feel very motivated and inspired by!
So, without further adieu!! (Unfortunately, we didn’t get many pics. We were just so hyped about being on snow, we didn’t stop for many happy snaps!)
Day 1 on the snow and it’s been too long…
So, Whistler mountain opened on Saturday 22nd November, with the brand new Whistler Village Gondola’s and their brand spanking new RFID gates (welcome to the rest of the world, Whistler!). Unfortunately, I work weekends in my job**, so I missed the opening day excitement, but with conditions the way they were, I wasn’t too upset. My ‘weekend’ at work is Monday/Tuesday right now, which I’m kinda stoked on, because they’re less busy days on the hill anyway. So come Monday, I was real excited!...albeit, we didn’t get on the mountain until 11:30am-ish.
Where – Whistler Mountain (lapping Emerald & Red chairs, and down to Whistler Gondola midstation)
When – about 11:30am to around 2pm
Who – Dan (husband) and then later that day we bumped into a new friend of Dan’s from Boardworld.com.au, ‘Andy’!
What gear – As the runs weren’t 100% covered up, I got out the Roxy Ollie Pop 145 (I purchased it cheap, 2nd hand last season) and rode it with my new women’s Switchback bindings. A super fun set up, actually and I enjoyed myself throughout the afternoon. Board was a lot more flexible than I’m used to, but once I got the hang of it, it was good. I really liked the bindings, too. Another blog to come on gear, later!
Stoke level – about a solid 5-6 I’d say. Not a lot of terrain open yet, not a huge amount of snow and I was just trying to find my snowboard legs again.
Day 2 and I’m starting to get back into the groove!
Where – Whistler Mountain (and yes, still only lapping Emerald & Red chairs and down to Whistler Gondola midstation)
When – 8:30am load, until around 2:30pm
Who – We had a bit more of a ‘crew’ going on, on Tuesday, which was awesome! I got to ride with Andy again, who we met in the lift line. Then, we caught up with Rob a really nice German instructor, who is working for Whistler Blackcomb this year. Later we also caught up with Nick, a friend of Andy’s and then I made a new friend named Lachlan. Lachlan is lucky enough to be holidaying in Whistler for the season and isn’t even working! Talk about live the dream!
What gear – Decided to try out the Eminence 143. I was super surprised by this one. I had the BEST time on it. I matched it with my Flux RK30’s and it was such a fun ride, all day. Again, gear blog coming later!
Stoke level – I’d say about a 7 to 8 out of 10. We charged a lot harder, I was jumping higher and spinning bigger. The snow was a lot nicer as well, so we even got a few cheeky freshies in there too!
So, we’ve got an arctic freeze coming this weekend, but unfortunately no precipitation, which is crappy. But, they’ve opened Blackcomb mountain as of today, so I’m looking forward to riding on Monday again (and hopefully it’s not bullet proof ice)!
In the meantime, feel free to ask me any questions at all, or even let me know if there is something in particular you want me to cover!
Until next time!!
*Not accurate numbers
**Disclaimer! I work for Whistler Alpine Guides. The comments and opinions of my blog are mine and mine only, and are by no means a representation of Whistler Alpine Guides. Some of my blog updates may include details of courses and trips that I am able to take, through Whistler Alpine Guides, however my blog is not intended as a ‘sales’ tool.
I’m super excited to read your adventures as the season progresses (to help me get through the next 3 months until my husband and I head to Canada in March ).
But please - lots of pics!
Great blog so far!
Loving the stoke
Awesome Lu! Looking forward to reading about your season!
... Lucky pooches too!
I am super excited for this blog to unfold! Great first entry, Lulu!
I don’t post a lot but when it’s goid such as this blog I do and this is one of those times.
Nice blog! Can’t wait for this to continue :D
Oh, cool! Thanks for the feedback so far, guys. Like I said, if you’ve got any questions, or want me to cover anything at all (or take any particular photos/footage), please let me know!
I’ve got a couple of follow ups before shred times next week, so feel free to stick around :D
Awesome stuff Lulu , will definitely have to go for a slide together at some point
I work nights so i can ride everyday, but my full days off are monday tuesday wednesday
You got out on the Eminence!
Hee hee ... Told you it was a charger
Looking forward to reading more, and seeing more Snow Porn
Gear reviews please, I’m also a gear junkie like you haha.
Chapter 2 - OK, Gear Reviews…part 1
Let’s be honest. Most of us who are into snowboarding have a bit of…well I would say…a gear ‘addiction’. Unfortunately, I definitely suffer this affliction.
Before I review the gear I rode for my first 2 days this season, I should probably give you my ‘specs’.
Weight: ~55kg (although yes, I did put on some extra padding over the summer, which happens to be my hibernation period but, I’ve got a gym membership now, so more on that in a later blog)
Width: About 21-22 inches
Angles: +18, -12
Boot size: Womens size 6
In my intro, I outlined how long I’ve been riding for and a bit of an overview of my experience level. I tend towards more of a ‘cruise’ style of riding, but enjoy the odd bomber every now and then, and like to work on my mad euro carves. Although, my technique still leaves a lot to be desired! But, I’m working on it, and that’s what is important!
I like finding natural little hits and features around, but also like the terrain park and more recently, the half pipe (which is still really new to me). My freestyle ‘strengths’ tend to be spins - currently working on smoothing up my front and backside 3’s off 20ft jumps and I can spin 180’s confidently in all directions. I am pretty confident with medium-sized ollie-on rails and boxes, but generally only 50/50 those kinds of features. For ride on boxes, my usual go to is backboards to switch, or switch backboards. I’m still gaining more confidence and improvement on frontboards…they are still intimidating and don’t come ‘naturally’ to me!
Halfpipe-wise, I’m really loving it! I’m still super noob, but I’m enjoying practicing to pump up to the lip and once I warm up, I’ve been able to get some straight airs out of the Perisher pipe. I can do some basic 180’s in the pipe, but nothing fancy.
Interestingly - my major weakness is grabs!! Like, the one grab I’m OK at and is my ‘go to’, is a nose grab. For some reason, grabs make me feel LESS stable in the air. So, I’m working on this a lot and you’ll likely hear about this as the season wears on. So, forgive me in advance if I seem to get stoked on the most stupid tricks - a goal would definitely be a nice method, but I’m not holding my breath to soon!...watch this space
Here is a pic of my ‘quiver’. I’ve posted this in the quiver thread already, but just in case you haven’t seen it, or want to refresh your memory - here’s the link https://www.boardworld.com.au/forums/viewthread/7/P690
I’m a classic Australian snowboarder. As in, we generally ride shorter decks, which are great for our shorter groom runs and more freestyle orientated riding. So, my ole’ reliable is definitely the Burton Lipstick 141, Flying V. I’ve had this for a few years and totally love it. It’s been through a lot with me!
Overall in a set up, I prefer slightly stiffer/more responsive boots, flexible bindings and a more, all mountain freestyle, with mid-flex kind of board.
Next post will be all about the reviews!
Chapter 2 - OK, Gear Reviews…part 2
Now we have that out of the way, let’s review the hard goods I rode this week!
Roxy Ollie Pop 145 (2013 model) with women’s Switchback bindings (2014 model)
Bit of backstory - I purchased the Ollie Pop, Eminence, Limited Edition Roxy jacket and a pair of REALLY SOFT Burton boots (can’t remember the model…) off a pro Roxy rider from Japan. I got everything for $180. So, not a bad buy!
I rode the Ollie Pop on my last day in Whistler, for the 2013/2014 season. The snow was SUPER spring-like and slushy, and the park on Blackcomb was in pretty 2nd hand condition. I also thought it would be a good idea to try out the boots I’d bought as well. It was a dumb idea…really soft boots+really soft board+really soft bindings (Flux RK30’s) + really slushy conditions = not a very happy Lu. I felt like I was constantly washing out and couldn’t really nail landings, because it felt like to me, that everything was just loosey goosey underneath me. It also equaled bruised ribs after a bail on the landing coming off a down rail. Not good times.
So, the Ollie Pop and I started off with a rocky relationship.
But, here we are, new season and new stoke. Given that the Ollie Pop is definitely one of the more ridden boards (plus it cost me $40!) of my quiver, I nominated it as my rock board (possibly also as a bit of revenge, maybe? ). However this time, I wore my Nitro Crown boots and paired the board with the new Switchback bindings. So, some more responsive boots and new bindings. But, playing around with the flex between the Flux and the Switchbacks, it felt like to me, the switchbacks were a little stiffer.
Bindings: I was a bit concerned. I’d heard some feedback here about them being really damaging to your boots, etc. However, I really liked them actually. They’re a brilliant no-nonsense binding. Tool-less adjustments and just straight forward straps. I’d heard from other members that the toe strap isn’t so good, but I felt like once I’d adjusted it to fit my boot, it was a snug fit and I didn’t feel like I had to crank them tight to feel connected to the board. To me, the ratchets were super smooth and had no issues whatsoever. Once they were done up, I didn’t have to think about them at all. I do however, think they could make them a little lighter. They feel a bit heavier to me, but not that bad that it would put me off purchasing them. Like I said, they were real easy to set up, super good with tool-less adjustment, felt really comfy and a reliable binding!
Notably, I didn’t ride long on day 1, but I liked the binding a lot and I’m keen to ride them more and more as the season goes.
Board: Ok, so the board was fun! Light, poppy and just playful. Monday was a little firmer snow-wise and so, I didn’t feel like I could trust it as much at speed, but the Ollie Pop was alright, over all. I did find that it kept up speed, but then, I’m not used to magnetraction. If I was flat basing across some cat track area’s, I had to make sure I wasn’t being lazy with my edge pressure, and ensure that I didn’t catch an edge. I rode it for a couple of trips through the park, but there weren’t many features and not really any jumps yet, but it handled that just fine. It was also a lot of fun to butter and press and I didn’t have to put too much energy into it at all.
I liked the Ollie Pop, but I wouldn’t say it is my favorite of all the boards I’ve ridden. Again, I managed to score it for $40 so it’s a win/win for me. However, that being said, if I was buying from new, my personal style would be more inclined towards something a little more stiff. I think I’d enjoy this board more if I was riding at much slower paces overall, and hanging with some more beginner friends and I can just play around!
Roxy Eminence 143 (2013 model) with Flux RK30 bindings (2013 model)
I’ve only ever heard good things about the Eminence. The model has been around for a while, as part of the Roxy ‘stable’ of boards and if it’s good enough for Torah Bright, I figured it would be more than good enough for me! I’ve had a few friends who’ve either owned, or ridden the Eminence and so I was hoping that the board met my expectations…
Bindings: I’ve had the Flux’s since last year back in Australia and I really, really like them. Again, tool-less adjustment and considering they are ‘mens’ bindings and I’m quite small, the highback is perfect for me. My small sized feet fit in great, with a little bit of sizing adjustments to the ankle and toe straps, and so; I’m a huge fan. There is something to be said for a company that just focuses on building one particular product. And even more so, when it is a Japanese company. They have great binding options for all kinds of riding styles and needs, but not too many that they aren’t able to improve on all of their models through R&D. I find my RK30’s to be super light and equally as comfortable. I never feel like I have to crank the straps too tight and the ratchets are the smoothest I’ve come across. They are definitely my favorites out of my current collection of bindings. I’d recommend these in a heart beat!
Board: Ok. Let me just say that I was NOT disappointed with the Eminence. In fact, I’m chewing my nails a little out of nervousness…I was hoping to try out the Roxy boards a bit more and then possibly sell them. I mean, I definitely don’t need 6 boards (or do I?... ) and so, the Eminence is somewhat similar to my Lipstick…but, but…I loved the Eminence!
We were charging a lot faster on day 2, the snow conditions were great and we were really playing around more with carves and speed. The Eminence was with me all the way and it was so. Much. Fun. Lot’s of pop and so, I was getting more air off the features I’d been hitting the day before. Super light, so it was a dream in spins and no probs at all with pressing. I think getting some runs in on the Ollie Pop the day before, helped with me learning more about the feel of magnetraction. So, by the time I jumped on the Eminence, it didn’t feel as alien to me.
Overall, I’m rating the Eminence as a close front runner as one of my favorite rides and I think I’m going to keep it. We may see it getting picked out of my quiver frequently during the season. What’s more exciting, is I feel like I’d love it in the half pipe as well. So, I’d like to give that a go!
Next board I’ll review is my DC Ply – again, a completely different board to the ones above, but I want to ride it again and give some feedback.
In the meantime, I am potentially looking at some good options for a stiffer style of binding, that will be good for my Malolo. Does anyone have any recommendations??
Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions about the reviews above!
Until next time
Awesome stuff, Lu!!!!!
Doesn’t matter if we’ve been/seen/unkeen on anythin Whistler!!!!!
Some of haven’t/had/can’t/wont but it’s snow and boarding and it’s all good, as it’ll give everyone that Stoke that we all seek!!!!!
And it’s unreal to see yet another Flux Fan on here!!!!!
Try some NOW bindings, I think they have a small size run this year. I freakin love NOWs, I have 2 pairs haha. If else fails, you can always go EST to maximize board feel with your malolo, not too sure what the women’s models are called.