OAKLEY PROGRESSION SESSIONS CLOSE OUT AT NORTHSTAR
Day two of Oakley Progression Sessions at Northstar-at-Tahoe opened up with better weather than the Saturday, much to the delight of the OPS participants. Following a yoga session led by Dom Vallee, the women raced up onto the slopes and headed to the OPS private park in order to pick up where they left off the day before.
The day was packed. A huge session on the OPS jumps went down the in morning, with all levels of riders pushing themselves and one another to go faster, pop more, and stomp spins. Women that hadn’t ever made turns in the park before were landing 180s and learning methods.
Gretchen Bleiler led a pipe clinic, imparting her experience and wisdom to the OPS ladies. The women were stoked, to say the least–it’s not every day that an Olympic medalist teaches you how to ride halfpipe. Gretchen shared tips and coached the women through the pipe, which can be one of the most intimidating aspects of park riding. After a few laps, everyone was beaming.
Dom and Kristi Leskinen hung out in the OPS private park much of the day, helping all of the women reach their goals on the jumps and jibs. As the afternoon wore on, the level of riding got higher and higher. Maybe it was the KIND bars, maybe it was the catered lunch that Northstar provided, but whatever it was, the energy in the OPS park didn’t fade at all. Shifties, all sorts of grabs, and tons of 180 variations went down on the jumps. On the flat box, which was perfect for learning new tricks, girls were throwing down 270s on, 180s off, tail presses, frontboards, and more.
Clair Jennings-Bledsoe, a Northstar local, was determined to perfect her frontboards and through her solid persistence, rode away from the park at the end of the day with the trick dialed.
“I thought one of the best parts of OPS was having a private park, where I wasn’t afraid to fall in front of people,” said Claire. “I ride Northstar all the time and it can be really intimidating to try to step up to a jump when people are throwing sevens off of it. OPS was a really supportive environment. All of the girls were really cheering each other on.”
Melanie-Iris Anderson was the recipient of the You’ve Got Skills, Girl Award. She amazed the coaches by going for everything, and always smiling, no matter if she landed or crashed. And, if she did fall, she was right back up at the top, ready to try again, all the while encouraging the girls around her. “I think OPS takes away all nervousness about anything,” said Melanie. “Everyone is cheering for you, it feels good to encourage other people; it’s complete comfort, which you don’t get on a normal hill. And pros fall, too, which is great, because I’m a faller.”
Said Melanie of the weekend, “It was the time of my life. If I died today and went to heaven, I’d be at this weekend 24-7. I made amazing friends, met awesome people, and learned more than I have learned in the last five years. I’ll definitely be back next year with my friends!”
And that wraps up the first year of Oakley Progression Sessions. From the Oakley crew, the coaches, and the pro riders, thank you to all of the ladies that came to OPS to ride, ski, and progress not only their own skills, but also women’s snowboarding and skiing as a whole, through supporting one another and pushing the collective boundaries of women’s riding. All of us look forward to next year.