Freeski champion putting on ski camp next week in Rossland

Local skiers will get a chance to ski with one of North America’s top freeskiers next week in Rossland.

Former freeski champion Alison Gannett is offering two Rippin Chix freeski camps at Red Mountain next wekend. One meant for locals on Friday

Local skiers will get a chance to ski with one of North America’s top freeskiers next week.

Alison Gannett will be putting on a Rippin Chix workshop on freeskiing next Friday at Red Mountain. Gannett, who lives in Colorado, travels all over the U.S. and parts of Canada doing camps.

Gannett will be doing a two day weekend camp, but the Friday camp is geared towards locals.

Sign up for the locals camp is at the Snow Sports at Red.

At the time of writing this, there was only one spot left for the Feb. 18-19 camp.

“So there is no shortage of people to sign up from around the area,” Gannett said, adding that there was still room, however, in the one-day locals camp she is doing on Friday Feb. 17.

Gannett said that for the weekend camp, 95 per cent of the women participating have never been to Red Mountain Resort, as they  are mostly from the States.

People come from far and wide to participate in the camps and they were even featured in the New York Times, along with Red Mountain Resort, as one of the top women’s camps in North America.

“Red Mountain is one of my dream hills,” she said. “I think it’s one of my top five in the entire world, probably only beat out by the Himalayas in India.”

She said she favours this hill because she looks at not just the hill, but the surrounding atmosphere around town as well.

“It is the charming town, a lot of times you can find a great hill, but it doesn’t have a great town,” she said, adding that some ski villages can be a bit pretentious.

The other reason she likes Red:

“Of course the amazing skiing,” she said. “You can take the Motherlode up and you can just ski 360 degrees off all sides, there’s not a lot of traversing. It’s really about fall-line skiing.”

Fun skiing to her is all about flow and she says Red has an innate natural flow to it.

In 2003, Gannett started teaching ski camps and heard comments that she would never get women that would want to take a double-black diamond steep camp. She proved them wrong, however, selling out most camps since.

Gannett says the camps are more down to earth and cater to those types that don’t usually do lessons, but are naturally strong skiers.

“It’s a different kind of camp,” she said. They are at a high level, but she said she gets a large range of people, from ages 12 to 60.

“One of my camps, I had two 80 year olds and one 90 year old,” she said, with the only prerequisite being the ability to do a minimum of 10 consecutive turns on a groomed black diamond run.

“So you don’t have to know how to ski trees or bumps,” she said.

Gannett said she has a very unconventional teaching style.

“I was trained, when I was younger in ski racing and I coached racing for awhile and then I went through the whole PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) certification system as a teacher,” she said. “Then I started competing in freeskiing and I kept asking the guys that I was training with, ‘how do you do that air?’ or ,’why did you do that move over that rock?’ And they’d say, ‘Oh, well you just go.’”

Gannett then decided she wanted to create more of  a progression program for herself, which she said was meant to start where PSIA ends.

“It (PSIA) doesn’t really teach you some of the techniques that you would need for a freeskiing camp,” she said. “So I started developing a series of baby steps for myself of how to learn all these moves in steep skiing technique.”

Gannett says she sees a life changing event for most people through the camp.

“The letters I get are just amazing,” she said. “The biggest difference is really confidence, because once you learn what all your tools are in your toolbox for different situations, the real gift is not being afraid anymore. There’s a lot of freedom to the confidence you get. “

Gannett said that freedom carries over into everyday life, which Gannett illustrated with a story about one girl who had always hated her job and was inspired to move on and find a job she really enjoyed after the camp.

The camp is a fundraiser for Gannett’s Save our Snow foundation, which looks into cost effective solutions to climate change to help save the snow for future generations.

Registration for the local camp is at the Snow Sports desk at Red Mountain Resort and for the weekend camp at www.alisongannett.com.