After an epic powder night, I am the lucky person sitting on the first chair of the Eagle Express. Passing Powderface, the adrenaline is pumping fast through my body, so excited to get the first tracks of the day! Almost at the top, and suddenly -
"Ladies and gentleman’s we are beginning our descent, please check your seatbelts"...
Damn, I was dreaming on the flight back to Amsterdam.
Nine months ago I did not have a clue what I could expect from Vancouver Island and more precisely of the Comox Valley. Now sitting in my hometown, I realize that my home is Vancouver Island instead of the Netherlands.
I feel like a stranger when I order a cup of coffee in the cafeteria; how do you order something in proper Dutch? (Yes now I have the problem that I don’t speak Dutch or English well!) Explaining to the waitress why I have trouble with my mother tongue, I start to talk about my Canadian dream. At the end of the story her reaction was: "Wow, where heaven exists, I hope it looks like Vancouver Island!"
Many people are asking me: "Erik, what is more fun: skiing or snowboarding?" Honestly, I can’t answer this question. Either way I get a big smile on my face when I can hit the slopes. But, I have to note that my answer for a long time was snowboarding this season.
When I began the project to become a Ski Hero, I never realized that skiing could be this difficult. In my opinion, it isn’t that hard to hit the slopes but the real challenge starts when you want to be a strong technical skier which is essential to pass the level 1 and 2 CSIA exams.
The biggest benefit of my journey was without a doubt the Section 8 Snowsport Leadership Program. During 12 weeks they supported me through lessons, video analysis, different disciplines (back country and park) and general feedback to achieve my goals. But, without any ski experience and a busy schedule, it is hard to get the mileage required to increase muscle memory. Muscle memory means that your body learns to use the technical movement of skiing more naturally.
During my entire stay in Canada I was never as nervous as during the last week of the course which is the level 2 CSIA exams! Over five days I had to convince the examiner that my skills where enough for the Level 2 standards. The feedback after Day 1 didn’t help to increase my confidence: "Erik, please have some fun with skiing, you’re way to nervous and it’s affecting your skiing!"
After five days of skiing and teaching we where waiting for the results on the sunny deck of Fat Teddy’s. When the examiners arrived, the atmosphere changed. Everyone was wondering if they had passed or not. When you pass, you get a certificate and an envelope with feedback on your skiing and teaching. If you don’t pass, you just get the envelope.
My examiner, Darrin West, was the last examiner to give out results. The crowd was yelling enthusiastically every time someone was passed, and meanwhile I started to get more and more nervous. "Did I pass or not?!" At one point, there where three envelopes and just two certificates left. I realized that I hadn’t passed and started to feel like a boxer who just been knocked out. I was right- Darrin called the two other names and my envelope was left. Like a bad loser, I walked over to him, gave him a hand and was reaching for the door behind him. I didn’t want to be there, I just wanted to be alone and somewhere else! When I was opening the door, he said: "Erik, wait a second, I have something for you..." From behind his back he pulled out my certificate. That moment felt like heaven, I had passed for my level 2!
Back in the Netherlands, I realize how many amazing people have helped me with realizing my Canadian dream. Many thanks and credits to all those people, I hope to see everyone next season!