Freestyle camp meshes flips, film and fun at PCMR
Casey Mills soars over an impromptu jump in tandem with his 10-year-old partner-in-crime. Mills lands perfectly, while his cohort comes awfully close to sticking the landing.
Mills, a freestyle snowboard instructor at Park City Mountain Resort, celebrates, as do the rest of the instructors and youngsters at the specialized freestyle terrain park just above the First Time Lift.
The cheers grow louder and the smiles grow wider as participants in the new I Ride Park City Freestyle Camp watch, and more importantly, use a barrage of GoPro cameras to film their friends and peers learning how to freestyle ski or snowboard.
As part of the groundbreaking camp at PCMR, children ages 9 to 15 learn how to develop their intermediate skills on the self-contained terrain park using video shooting and editing capacities. A new way of teaching freestyle snowsports, the I Ride camp features a 5-to-1 student to coach ratio, and a number of portable cameras ready to snag footage of the young athletes learning on the go.
"I’ve always hoped to have some video analysis for my classes, and now we’re finally seeing it," said Mills, who is in his sixth year as an instructor at PCMR. "With this camp, one of the major things we were talking about was immersing these snowboarders and skiers in the actual culture of the pro really-push-it atmosphere. With no traffic and (the park being) really closed off, we can really focus and push a lot further, and get way more results."
The inaugural I Ride camp kicked off Wednesday and completed its three-day session Friday. There are five more sessions scheduled through the second week of April. Roughly a dozen kids learned the ins and outs of freestyle skiing and snowboarding Thursday morning, as instructors helped teach the technicalities of a 360 spin, or how to garner enough speed to execute an Indy grab off of one of the two jumps.
Freestyle ski instructor Jeremy Greenberger said the evolution of technology has caught up with the sport he loves, and will only help the next generation progress faster.
"It’s definitely very different from anything we’ve done before," he said. "It’s a whole lot of fun.
"For coaching, it’s a huge tool, definitely. We can watch things in slow motion and definitely can pick what’s going right and what’s going wrong, and the kids can watch what they’re doing instead of feeling like they’re doing one thing."
After each day of the camp, the kids and instructors head to the media lab at the PCMR resort base, where they end up creating a video montage of their week in the camp.
"Even when you tell somebody something, it doesn’t click all the time," Mills said. "Then having the ability to see video feedback, and being able to point at a screen — it’s just humungous."
Andrew Braden hiked around the terrain park with a video camera in hand, interviewing the children on what their experiences were like halfway through the camp. He helped orchestrate GoPro cameras (which are waterproof, wearable, versatile and high quality) on elongated rods so riders could hold them out to the side while they took a jump or slid along a box feature.
"We’re focused more on by-the-kid-for-the-kid," said the videographer/content manager. "The product is completely theirs.
"They’re going to be editing the footage — I’m just a guiding hand who’s going to help. It’s going to be their own artwork."
While some would balk at teaching a dozen children ages 9 to 15 to edit homemade videos, Braden said filming and editing is his passion and added he’s been impressed with the campers’ willingness to learn.
"There’s a lot of them who are really into it," he said. "And with the technology today, a lot of these kids have probably used something like this before.
"Being a snowboarder or skier, (the kids) have more insight into that world. They’re the ones that should be doing all the media for the sport, anyway."
While some campers threw caution to the wind, whipping their bodies in efforts to land 360-spins at any cost, some just wanted to fly, catching enough speed as possible to rocket off a jump.
"It’s fun to see them react to advice," Mills said. "It’s the future of the sport, so it’s great being able to have a hand in that."
Greenberger and a protégé began practicing how to approach a box feature near the bottom of the terrain park. The youngster held onto the rod, the GoPro on the end, as Greenberger pulled him across the box.
Once the camper popped off, he landed and threw his arms into the air in excitement.
"I imagine the next time we do this, we’ll have even more kids," Greenberger said. "Hopefully double."
For more information, visit http://www.parkcitymountain.com or call (800) 222-PARK.
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