Snowboard club taking programs to the next level 

Night halfpipe, clubhouse to help Whistler Valley Snowboard Club

For the past seven years the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club has been coaching young riders, teaching them the ropes in parks and the pipe and giving them the tools they need to progress to the next level.

Some of the graduates of the program have gone on to represent Canada on the World Cup team – notably Sarah Kopinya and Mercedes Nicoll. Others have gone on to pro status, picking up sponsors and appearing in contests and films. Tyler Massey is the latest to make that step, getting an invitation to join the best of the best in the Ripzone Snowboard Invitational big air contest.

Today the program has close to 60 riders and is supported by a dozen coaches, including a number of graduates and pro riders. They take part in contests locally and around the province, and many go on to represent Whistler in the provincials, junior nationals and nationals, and Canada in the junior world championships.

With a good reputation, strong coaching and a solid relationship with Whistler-Blackcomb, the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club is preparing to bring itself and its athletes to the next level.

"We’re going through our transition right now," said Rob Picard, the head coach and founder of the WVSC.

"We’re trying to work on a five-year plan, and really see the future of the club. With the night halfpipe at Base II we hope to get the mountain more involved with the team program and amateur developments.

"We’re trying to get a clubhouse at Base II… so we have a more social scene with the club. That’s where we’ve had problems – all of this (Olympic development) money is being put into programs and being handed out, but we get forgotten about because there’s not enough parent involvement."

Currently funding isn’t an issue for the team, which gets by on dues and an annual grant from the Whistler-Blackcomb Foundation. More funding will be needed to maintain a clubhouse and travel to more competitions. They could also use a van, says Picard.

The goal for next season is to expand the number of kids involved in the program to 100, something Picard believes is possible as a result of their partnership with Whistler-Blackcomb and the fact that this is the first year that the club will advertise its services. The night halfpipe that Whistler-Blackcomb is planning to build at Base II, in advance of the 2005 FIS Snowboard World Championships, will also help, as the number of programs the club offers can expand.

The WVSC is one of the first snowboard clubs of its kind in Canada, and it’s by far the largest and best organized. Picard says the creation of other clubs will ultimately benefit the WVSC by creating a real grassroots for snowboarding in Canada.

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