US snowboard pros counsel summer campers at Woodward Copper
Stars Blackwell, Corning, Gerard return to youth summer stomping grounds
The Never Summer snowboard company busted out its high jump setup at this week at Woodward Copper’s on-snow summer camps at Copper Mountain Resort. Similar to the Olympic track and field event, campers took their stab at clearing the high jump bar — but it was stacked between two stanchions comprised of base-to-base Never Summer snowboards. And, in this case, the campers were jumping over the bar with their boards or skis attached.
The exclamation point on the after-lunch activity was to see two members of the U.S. Snowboard Team, Chris Corning and Chase Blackwell nollieing — a nose ollie — more than 3 feet over the bar.
Whether it’s the high jump, a race in snowboard boots up and down Woodward Copper’s summer park, or the “press conference” — seeing which campers can nose or tail press the highest — Blackwell said the weeks of on-snow summer camp at Woodward Copper are all about having fun.
“I feel like growing up that was kind of always the motive whenever I was on a snowboard, was having as much fun as possible,” the U.S. halfpipe pro Blackwell said. “Especially with this Never Summer team we have at the moment, we’re all in it to have fun.”
The Colorado-based Never Summer tribe led week two of Woodward Copper summer camps this past Monday through Friday after Burton kicked off things the week before. Summit local Red Gerard and international stars like Mark McMorris and Danny Davis ripped up the Woodward Copper summer slush and served as some of the coolest camp counselors you’ll ever find before Never Summer came up the hill on Monday, June 14.
Corning, of Silverthorne, said serving as a counselor for the kids means a lot to him because it gives him a chance to provide a camp experience he didn’t have as a kid.
“Every year we try to stoke the kids out,” Corning said. “We give out so much gear, and we all take a lot of pride having fun with the kids. It’s cool to watch them get better. To be able to give that to somebody is awesome.
For Dillon resident Blackwell — a Longmont native and the 2021 U.S. men’s halfpipe national champion — it’s an experience that brings him back to his days as a summer on-snow camper. That was up at the legendary Windells camp at Mount Hood in Oregon for Blackwell. When Blackwell is riding around Woodward Copper teaching a kid how to hit a box or rail, it brings him back to his seven years of childhood memories at Windells. As a camper, Blackwell said he always wanted to be out on hill — no matter how bad the summer rain was in the Pacific Northwest.
“I remember one rainy day a lot of people didn’t go up on hill and we hiked a corrugated tube and I was sitting inside the tube as people were sessioning the thing over me,” Blackwell said with a laugh. “It was super fun, me just hanging out inside from the rain.”
These days Blackwell knows the kids are after the same thing he is: improving their skills and capturing a new trick on video to share to Instagram. So Blackwell, Corning and the rest of the Never Summer crew are out there teaching, asking questions and recording the kids as much as possible to make a camper’s day.
It’s not often in elite international sports that you’ll find the nation’s best athletes spending a week playing with children of all ages and skill levels. That’s the scene at Woodward Copper. You’ll find the likes of the Olympic champion Gerard stylishly hand-planting a quarter pipe or the World Champion Corning rotating a 720-degree rodeo flip off of an inventive wallie.
In each case, no matter what jaw-dropping trick the pro throws right next to a wide-eyed youth, the U.S. team member will ride the magic carpet back to the top of the park while chatting with the kids. Pros like Corning, Blackwell and Gerard love the camp so much they’ll carry a kid’s board up the hill for them to help the little ripper get some rest.
“I try really hard to make it feel like it’s about them because it’s their week,” Corning said. “We ask them what they are working on and their goals throughout the week. … We try to be there as a person — somebody to talk to, not necessarily someone who is a professional. We want to be their friend.”
Summit snowboarding legend Chad Otterstrom was at Woodward Copper this week helping the Never Summer crew.
“The fun part about summer camp,” Otterstrom said, “is hanging out with the kids, and that’s the most important part: making sure they have the best week of their life — because they will remember it for the rest of their life.”
Otterstrom will be back for the Academy Snowboards week starting July 11, and said the vibes up at Copper this summer are amazing compared to last summer. On-snow riding in summer 2020 at Copper pivoted away from the traditional weeklong camps to individual sessions in response to COVID-19 regulations.
“A full 100% comeback is what I was feeling,” Otterstrom said. “Good vibes.”
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