Monday, March 19, 2012

The Oakley Progression Sessions crew woke up at Mammoth Sunday morning, surprisingly chipper after a long Saturday riding powder and a solid St. Patrick’s Day celebration during early evening après. At eight am sharp, all of the OPS snowboarders and skiers bounded into the meeting room, raring to attack the trails of Mammoth and learn new tricks. Unfortunately, the weather had plans of its own, but poor visibility and high winds were not enough to deter the energy of all of the women. After a solid yoga warm up, jackets were donned, gloves were pulled on, and facemasks were adjusted—it was time to head out to the hill.

“The weather didn’t hold any of the girls back,” said Oakley pro skateboarder and OPS snowboard coach, Lauren Perkins. “They still charged, they didn’t give up, and that’s one of the most inspiring things to me.”

The morning plan was to ride over to the OPS private park, which was situated near Canyon Lodge. Coaches and participants weren’t exactly sure what the status of the parks in that area would be—main mountain was intimidatingly windy and snowy, making Forest Trail Park fairly inhospitable, so it was with fingers crossed that the crew headed up Chair 1 to check out the other part of the resort.

Luck (and a hardworking Mammoth Unbound staff) was on the side of the Oakley ladies. As the girls made their way down to the OPS park, spots of blue sky began to emerge; the dreadful weather at main mountain disappeared behind rows of trees and it was a completely different world at the top of the OPS jumpline. The riders and skiers were already enjoying slashing powder and learning laybacks and other sweet trailside tricks, so as the weather opened up, the already big smiles broadened even more.

“It was really great to be able to share my home mountain with all of the girls at this stop of OPS,” said Kristi Leskinen, who lives just down the road from the resort. “Because of the weather, we got to explore so many different parts of the mountain than if we had just been taking park laps. I got to be part tour guide, part coach. It was so much fun, and Mammoth Unbound built us a fantastic private park, which was the perfect place to find sunny weather on Sunday.”

The OPS park definitely was amazing. A slew of rails and boxes, a double line of cheesewedges perfect for learning, and for the first time in OPS history, a private halfpipe. Everything was set up in such a way that riders could take a run in the pipe with Dom, session the rails with Chanelle, Helene, and Marie, and hit jumps with Kristi all in the span of a half an hour. Talk about an epicenter for progression—women were learning tricks left and right with the help from the OPS coaches.

“I loved it,” said Autumn, a returning OPS lady who attended the weekend at Northstar last year. “I don’t care, windy days, snow, whatever, OPS is the place to go.”
As the lifts came to a stop for the day, the OPS crew celebrated their accomplishments at the awards ceremony. Laughs, high fives, and hugs were shared as coaches and riders recounted highlights from the weekend. The ladies of OPS: Mammoth braved some gnarly conditions and came out on top.

“We had a sick time,” said Marie-France Roy. “My favorite part of the weekend was riding pow with the girls, just seeing how stoked they were, even though it was blazing wind the whole time. I don’t know, we just made it happen and I didn’t see one bit of negativity the whole time. It was really, really sick. Lots of new tricks were learned and lots of new friendships.”

Oakley Progression Sessions wraps up the 2012 season at Loon Mountain, New Hampshire for Droppin’ In next weekend.

Photos: Westenbarger