Sunday, February 19, 2012

Oakley Progression Sessions: Le Massif is a wrap. The weekend was utterly awesome: it was the perfect way to kick off the 2012 OPS season and an exciting moment for OPS to expand into Canada.

Day two was even better than the first. Bluebird weather greeted the coaches and participants as they headed out to shred the mountain Sunday morning. Le Massif’s park crew added another jump and flat rail to the private park for Sunday, too. Everyone was fully stoked to spend the day shredding.

The day began with warm up laps, as lady snowboarders and skiers ollied, slashed, and rode switch down the trails of Le Massif. One of the main themes of Oakley Progression Sessions is that freestyle snowboarding and skiing aren’t confined to the park, and for the women at Le Massif, this was a particularly resounding point. Coaches Christine Savage, Marie-France Roy, Dom Vallee, Kim Lamarre, and Kaya Turski highlighted existing freestyle skills that the group of lady rippers already had within their freeriding. For many of the women, they hadn’t previously realized that they possessed many basic park skills and that these talents could be adapted to turn the whole mountain into a giant snowboarding and skiing playground.

After lapping and learning Sunday morning, the afternoon was spent in the OPS park, perfecting tricks and building upon lessons from the rest of the weekend. The private park is always a highlight of OPS stops, as it gives the participants a place to comfortably practice their favorite tricks on a variety of park features. It also is pretty dang cool because it isn’t very often that a group of ladies get a roped-off, just-for-them place to ride. Oakley took the Le Massif park experience to the next level, too, when the Oakley Canada staff brought in two of their snowmobiles and shuttled women uphill when they wanted a break from hiking. Talk about VIP status!

“It was so fun,” said Kim Lamarre, “Making the girls smile and making sure they had fun was the goal of my weekend, and just seeing the girls smiling the whole time, it was amazing.”

Head Coach Christine Savage was helping girls on a jump in the OPS park when it was time for everything to close down. “Our park was pretty close to where the lodge was, but in order to get back up to the building, you had to ride down and take a chairlift up,” said Christine. “The lift closed at 3:30, so they announced last call in the park. The girls that were hiking the jump with me were like, ‘we want to keep hiking; we’ll hike back up to the lodge, if that’s ok.’ So, we stayed, kept sessioning the jump, and then hiked all the way back to the lodge, just so the girls could get four more hits each. That was dedication.”

The OPS awards ceremony capped off the weekend. Women were given prizes from Oakley for learning, trying new things, overcoming fears, and possessing positive attitudes. Oakley Progression Sessions’ top honors, the “You’ve Got Skills, Girl” award, was giving to Helen, a snowboarder who had been riding for only a few years and defined what OPS is all about: an incredible passion for riding, an infectious positive attitude, and the ability to keep a huge smile on her face, whether she had stomped a new trick or had taken a spill.

As OPS: Le Massif wrapped up, smiles, hugs, and high fives were shared amongst everyone. The incredibly special atmosphere of Oakley Progression Sessions had affected a whole new group of women in the first-ever Canadian OPS stop.

“I think it was a really good stepping stone for skiing and snowboarding women in Canada,” said Dom Vallee, who has been involved in the OPS program since it began last year. “Le Massif was my favorite OPS stop yet.”

In March, Oakley Progression Sessions goes to Copper Mountain in Colorado, Mammoth Mountain in California, and Loon Mountain’s “Droppin’ In” in New Hampshire.