Last Sunday was a classic example of what a perfect skiing and snowboarding day at Big Bear should be like. The weather was amazing with crisp blue skies and all the snow you could ask for. Temperatures were warm enough for even the smallest riders. Memories were made and new friendships formed, everybody came together as a group and made it a huge success. Riding up on the bus together, all of the kids and their families were so exited and full of expectations! For many this was their first snowboard trip of the season. When we first saw snow the bus erupted in cheers, which just grew the feeling of anticipation as we winded up the mountain road towards our destination. The movies on the bus were a great way to pass the time and just added to the amazing good vibes and memories.
The Freedom Riders snow bus was full of kids, teens and some of their parents. With a lot of new kids who went skiing/snowboarding for the first time in their life. For a beginner this is the best way to learn – with your friends by your side cheering you on and challenging you to try bigger and better runs. We made sure 3 days before to put the kids in their right age group and level, coordinating with the Big Bear ski school was amazingly fast because of our 4 year relationship with the mountain ski school. Even the instructors had smiles on their face when they saw the Freedom bus arrive.Usually the first day in Big Bear gets a little bit hectic … but, this time like magic – every thing went smooth and the kids went on the slops 20 min after arriving to the mountain. With boots and bindings strapped in we hurried up through the parking lot and jumped on the lifts together. The first moment you feel the lift carry you up the mountain you know it’s going to be a great day.
I personally saw how Maya(12) & Cyara(12) were charging the boxes with amazing style. Boxes can be scary at times, but they showed no fear and charged the terrain at full speed, with smiles and big eyes peering out from their goggles and helmets. We always stay safe and together on the runs, making sure we don’t miss a single great moment as we fly down laughing and racing all the way. Ian was riding fast and trying to jump off every ramp … Liad saw that and was inspired to charge the boxes too. Nick learned some new tricks and Aaron got so much better!
Riding up the lift with Hunter he told me that he really wanted to try and go off a jump like the other riders, but he wasn’t quite sure of him self and wondered about the best way to do it. I told him that the way to do it was to not be afraid to fall and to know that what one rider can do, another can do also. Strapping on his helmet extra tight we skidded to a stop at the runway to the first jump, with the big boys flying by at top speed, Hunter turned downhill gaining just the right amount of speed, and as I watched he launched off the lip of the jump and flew on a snowboard for the first time ever! What a sight! I was so happy to be there for such a great memory. Hunter was so excited to get back on the lift and try it again. The rest of the day he continued to push his limits and gain experience, sometimes falling but always getting up with a little less fear and a lot more confidence.
By the end of the day Daniel & Jack rode for the first time on life to lift no. 7 and shredded the slopes before heading home. Sophia & Noa were charging the slopes on skis though Sophia did announced that her mission is to learn how to snowboard. Kira & Bella were ripping together the whole mountain while Benjo was practicing in the half-pipe, he was one of the youngest kids making the vertical drop that takes years for most boarders to attempt.
Understanding the needs of the kids and putting safety in front of everything is essential for having a good ski & snowboard program. Everyone wears helmets and is versed in the rules of the mountain.Even after we separate the groups … after lunch we search for the kids who developed to the next level, moving them up accordingly. The kids who are ready for the more advanced techniques and runs get the instruction they need to avoid the frustration of learning things the hard way. With the right instruction they are able to learn much faster, which keeps the fun level high. Big Bear is all about fun and the Freedom Riders instructors are all about experiencing the mountain with the riders. The skiing & snowboarding goals are to bring the riders to the next level of riding as individual but, working as a group is very important for safety and the communication between the instructor, group and group peers.
As the sun was dipping behind the mountain – temperatures dropped and with tired legs we climbed back aboard the bus. Everybody was so happy with the mountain experience and we were ready for the way back with movies, food & drinks on the bus. The bus ride home was so fun as everyone told their favorite stories and accomplishments to both their old friends and new ones.
Special thanks to Charlie Beck & Dani Schecter who helped on the way and on the mountain, and also to the kids who showed great respect to each other regardless of skill or age.
Looking forward to seeing you and your kids on the next adventure on January 23rd. With such a great trip under our belts things are looking good for another experience where we can expand on the success our first trip this year. With many more to come I’m very excited for next time. See you there!