Olympians plug Learn to Ride program
BRECKENRIDGE – No spectacle ever inspired a person to try snowboarding like Kelly Clark launching into a mctwist or Ross Powers spinning into a method air off the halfpipe last February at the Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Clark and Powers, who both earned gold medals for their 2002 Olympic performances, were among the die hards hiking Peak 9 in Breckenridge Thursday to test their tricks on Halloween. They were visiting Breck to help promote the Burton Learn to Ride (LTR) program, which targets first-time snowboarders, and which is only available at a handful of resorts throughout the country. In Colorado, participating resorts include Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek and Durango Mountain.
“There is a board, boot and binding built specifically for the program, specifically for beginners,” said Jeff Boliba, resort and LTR manager for Burton Snowboard Company. “There’s a small-group ratio in the program, and the gear is replaced every two seasons, so there’s always fresh gear. Breckenridge also has a kid’s program where we incorporate trampoline training and snowboarding video games. There’s even a 90 (centimeter board) this year for kids’ learning. A lot of people, their eyes were open pretty wide watching the Olympics, especially by these two (Powers and Clark). It helped people to see what’s possible. I think everyone had a blooming respect for the sport. But after seeing that, people have so much more respect.”
Although Powers and Clark don’t have time to teach others to ride because of their own training, competitions and media appearances, they enthusiastically endorse the LTR program and vouch for its success.
“There are a lot of people that try snowboarding,” Powers said. “They don’t have the right equipment or the right program. If you go out there with an instructor who’s qualified to teach you as a beginner and equipment that’s specific for people who have never tried, it makes a big difference.”
Clearly, Burton’s specialized equipment won’t enable beginners to jump into a halfpipe and stick a series of 1080 spins and flips, but the program is famous for advancing students faster than the typical friend-taught, first-time snowboarding experience some individuals get themselves into.
“We help promote the program as much as we can,” Clark said of LTR. “A lot of boards you see out there are really advanced. It’s great that Burton makes a product that’s feasible for people that can’t ride to make it easier for them to learn.”
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