Starting the season with a Bang.

How are you starting this year’s season? I started mine last weekend not with just a bang but rather a Big Bang. The Snowboard Asylum teamed up with Tamworth SnowDome to provide two days of everything snowboard with the Big Bang Snowboard Show Weekender. I travelled with my good, non-snowsport friend Nikki and her 11 year old daughter, Elene who was super-keen to try snowboarding. We drove over 400 miles from the north east to the west midlands spending eight hours in the car. The Big Bang can help prepare for the season in so many ways, but was it worth travelling all the way to the West Midlands and what exactly is the craic?

What lessons are available? There are freestyle, freeride and women only sessions for the adults. Freestyle tuition is delivered by Definition which is run by former Olympic coach Gav Learmonth. I have been on one of their weekend courses and know the tuition to be superb. The freeride option is delivered by Snowboard Coach and I have been ably taught by Ash Newness and his instructors many times at the UK indoor snowslopes. However, on this occasion I opted for the women only session taught by Tammy Esten from Mint Snowboarding. Tammy has taught me many times in Alpine conditions but never in the UK, and although there were no blue skies in evidence the teaching was as confidence-inspiring as ever. There were 15 students who varied in ability but we all put in the work to tailpress, ollie and ultimately to ride a small, basic box rail.

Taster session in full swing

Taster session in full swing

What if I’ve never snowboarded before; can I take part? Most definitely, as the Big Bang caters for those who would like to try snowboarding and get a feel for what it’s all about. Elene got 45 minutes in the beginners area moving around with one foot strapped in and one out, sliding straight down the slope before trying out her heel edge. She finished with strapping in her back foot to slide down the slope in a final triumph. She reported, “It was a good first experience and I really want to do it again. I’d have liked some more individual instruction and the chance to go higher and faster but overall it was really good and I would love to do it again!”

I am thinking about a new snowboard but don’t know where to start; can Big Bang help? It’s a great event to help you decide what you need, as you can try out lots of snowboards and get advice from knowledgeable experts. In my session the Burton Socialite was a popular board which several women were trying. It’s not often you get a chance to ride before you buy, so if you are up for some new hardware the Big Bang is a great place to hang out.

What about my youngest children: surely they cannot snowboard? It depends upon their age as there are different options for different age groups. Kids aged three to six years old can have a go in the Burton Riglet Park using specially designed mini-snowboards. And those children aged upto eight, who wish to step up from the Burton Riglet Park, can participate in the mini-shred session with Mint Snowboarding. Checkout the video below to see what the Burton Riglet Park looks like.

Is there anything for non-snowboarding friends and family to do? There certainly is with restaurants and shops and an ice rink and swimming pool.

How much does it cost? This will vary depending upon what you are signed up to do; the 45 minute taster costs £10 and an all-day slope pass, with a break for lunch, cost £69. The coaching sessions were free but a slope pass had to be purchased to participate. The slope pass was for a specified time period and that was up to each person to decide how long they wanted on the slope.

Was there anyone from Team GB? This year Olympic Slopestyle Bronze medallist Jenny Jones and snowboarding doyenne Lesley McKenna were on-hand with Tammy Esten from Mint in the women’s only sessions. Jenny demonstrated the perfect ollie; she made it look so easy and of course not one of us could replicate anything like it, but it was fun to be in such good company.

It was a long day but worth it to spend time feeding the inner snowboarding-beast and for Elene to get her first taste of snowboarding. It was fantastic to see so many people enjoying the snow and feeling the stoke. My season has started thanks to the Big Bang; what are you doing to start yours?

Ta Ta For Now

Kate.

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