Monday, March 5, 2012

In delightful contrast to Saturday’s wintery weather, the sun blared down on Sunday at Copper Mountain, Colorado, making the early March day feel more like the middle of April. The snow was soft, perfect for tackling new tricks in the park, and learning laybacks and tripods on the trails. It was a perfect day for 50 women to rip up the park together at Oakley Progression Sessions’ second stop of 2012.

At 8am, fifty women shuffled quietly into The Barn at Woodward at Copper. While they were excited for another day on hill together, they were moving slowly after the first day’s intensive and awesome activities. It didn’t take long to shake them out of their daze; Chanelle Sladics led a warm up yoga class to energize the women, and before long they were flipping into the foam pits, jumping on trampolines, and yelling and screaming excitedly. OPS  Copper day 2 had begun!

Oakley pros Jenny Jones, Chanelle Sladics, Kristi Leskinen, Lauren Perkins, and Helene Olafsen, along with coaches Christine Savage, Mary Walsh, and Woodward at Copper coaches Katie and Amber headed to the lifts with the group of excited snowboarders and skiers, who were ready to take advantage of their experience on day 1 and dial in new tricks.

By mid morning, the beautiful weather beckoned the women to Copper’s 22-foot pipe. Halfpipe is often the most intimidating feature on the hill for many women in Oakley Progression Sessions, and breaking down its overwhelming appearance is often monumental for the riders, introducing them to something that they immediately fall in love with. “Taking the girls through the halfpipe for the first time was a highlight for me,” said Kristi Leskinen, “90% of our group had never skied in a halfpipe before. I had them follow me and you could hear the girls screaming and yelling the whole time. We got to the bottom and they were like, ‘that was like a rollercoaster ride!’”Sunday afternoon is one of the best parts of OPS weekends, because the OPS park becomes a progression party. After the patented OPS Mob Run, where the entire group takes a lap down the mountain together, the participants rode into the park and took over the jumps and rails. All of the fundamentals and improvements that the women had learned already in the camp coalesced; spins were stomped, frontboards and 5-0s were nailed, and smiles spread across the faces of all the women. Oakley’s Bryan Shelton pumped up the jams with a perfect playlist that echoed through the park and at one point, a dance contest broke out—turns out the Chanelle and Helene are really good at the worm!

The weekend ended with the OPS awards ceremony. While participants and coaches munched on finger foods, important moments, great attitudes, and progressive riding were recognized. As usual, tears were shed, laughs were had, and a pretty awesome game of Ninja/Bear/Hunter was played. Oh yeah, and there was an impromptu rap performance.

“I didn’t’ really know what I was going to,” said Helene about her first time at OPS. “I met so many girls, hyping each other up, having so much fun, making such a good community. They were all so willing to learn. I was really inspired.”

“What’s special about this weekend is that it’s really empowering,” said Chanelle, who has been coaching at OPS for three years. “People let down their guards and feel really safe and they learn new tricks. They’re not afraid to celebrate it and they dance, and they laugh and they cry.”

Thank you to all of the women that came out to Copper and made this weekend so memorable, and thank you so much to Copper and Woodward at Copper for being such excellent hosts and contributing so much to the weekend!

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