WVSC marks 20 years of shredding 

Founder reflects as anniversary approaches

PHOTO COURTESY OF ROB PICARD - SHINING MOMENT WVSC alumnus Johnny Lyall flew through the Olympic rings during the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
  • Photo courtesy of Rob Picard
  • SHINING MOMENT WVSC alumnus Johnny Lyall flew through the Olympic rings during the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

A lot can change in 20 years, especially in snowboarding.

The Whistler Valley Snowboard Club (WVSC) has been there through it all, founder Rob Picard recalled.

"When we originally started in '97, we only started with a handful of people. I think it was six or seven in our program to begin with. Then we hit '99, 2000, we hit close to 80 members," he said. "With the changing of the industry and snowboarding having its ups and downs, now we're back on the rise again. We had some lower numbers a few years back and now we're climbing back up again. There are more kids snowboarding in the community and we have a really big base for our younger program right now (ages nine through 13)."

Picard noted the club recently finished its tryouts for higher-level programming and said there are about 16 strong candidates heading into next season.

After operating on a smaller scale for about the first half of its existence, one of the bigger changes in the club's history was expanding its offerings.

"What we've done is implemented a five-day-a-week program. We've been working with competitive athletes and structured a full-time program. We've shifted from just running a weekend program, as in 2008, we started running on a full-time basis," he said. "We saw the need for it as the Olympics came to Canada and we wanted to structure our program so that it would benefit some long-term competitive snowboarders."

The next step was to go from filling winter weeks to filling summer months, Picard said. WVSC members used to go to Austria in the summer, but now go to the southern hemisphere to get a better bang for their buck.

"We're slowly now becoming a year-round program, and going into next year, we have even more competitive athletes starting into our program," he said. "We work with Camp of Champions on the glacier and we also go down to Perisher and end up doing a month in Australia.

"We try to spend a month before the mountain opens here, officially, down in Colorado to get some early training so they have their competition runs and tricks developed before January."

Though some top boarders have passed through Picard's programs, he appreciates the opportunity to help out anyone with a passion for the sport.

"We've had a lot of our guys that have been successful developing an identity in the industry," he said. "We had Mikey Rencz, a pro snowboarder and really big name, Mercedes Nicoll, who's going in for another Olympics (her third, should she qualify).

"But the biggest thing is just the friendship and the families that we've worked with."

Picard also reconnected with a WVSC alum in Tamo Campos on the weekend when the latter spoke at Multiplicity on Sunday night. As both a boarder and environmentalist, Campos has excelled, making Picard proud.

"I feel very lucky that I had the chance to be a part of his life and watch him grow," Picard said. "He commented to my girlfriend that I was his weekend dad. That's such a great feeling to have an impact on these young guys and feel that what we're doing is meaningful."

The club will officially mark its anniversary this Saturday, April 15 at 11 a.m. beginning with the Halfpipe Fam Jam in the Blackcomb Halfpipe. There will be an après at Merlin’s from 4 to 7 p.m. while further festivities will begin at 9 p.m.

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