Soldiers’ ski and snowboard camp comes to Heavenly |

Soldiers’ ski and snowboard camp comes to Heavenly

Tribune staff report

Chad SellmerMike Hight, a Heavenly Ski Resort terrain park worker, tests a jump during the South Shore Soldiers' Ski and Snowboard Camp on Wednesday at Heavenly

The South Shore Soldiers’ Ski and Snowboard Camp got under way at Heavenly Ski Resort Tuesday with some big air, lots of smiles and bright, sunny skies.

The camp consists of four sessions for adults only, beginner through advanced, with four days on the snow using the Soldiers’ private terrain. The terrain park includes tables from 10-60 feet, more than 20 rails, fun boxes, a boardercross course, a superpipe and a snowskate park.

Each weeklong camp features one party with a live band or DJ, as well as a bowling party with complimentary drinks and a raffle. But more importantly to the participants, the camps also include intensive coaching from local professionals and daily video analysis.

This is the second year of the Soldiers’ camp and the first year that skiers have been invited to participate. Co-organizer Ed McClain, who also coaches the Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation team, was busy outlining the first day’s activities as riders launched off jumps and rails in the terraced terrain park behind him.

“The first day is always a scramble,” McClain said. “We’ve got to get a lot of banners up, lots of fencing and the organization. It’s always a mad rush on the first day, but it gets better every session as we go.

McClain said the camp offers a number of reasons why riders of all ability levels should be psyched to show off their stuff. Each session features video analysis, professional instruction and a chance to meet and hang with a host of local snow celebs, as well as the opportunity to pose mid-air for magazine shots and video footage.

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“The number one priority for a lot of people is exposure,” he said. “They know the filmers and the photographers are going to be here. For the campers, it’s a chance to improve, to be coached by pros, to hang out and to meet some of the people who have maybe been their idols for years.”

Special guests who will make appearances all month long include pro riders Kevin Jones, Tara Dakides, Kurt Wastell, Shaun Palmer, Eddie Wall, Kyle Clancy, Andreas Wiig, Danny Kass, Nate Cole, Tina Basich, Sean Johnson and others. “Guest skiers” include Jonny Moseley, Dash Long and Sarah Burke, among others.

“The pros have an open invitation for the four sessions, so it’s up to them,” McClain said. “They have to fit it into their own contest schedules, so when they show up, they show up.”

Soldiers’ snowboarding coach and former X Games gold medalist Jimmy Halopoff said the best part of serving as the camp’s head director is working with kids.

“I do this for the love of snowboarding, because it’s been such a huge part of my life,” Halopoff said. “I was hurt a couple of years ago and I was just sitting on the couch. I’ve always loved working with kids and I decided to start thinking of something to do when this camp came up. I get a lot of satisfaction from watching kids have a good time, laughing and having fun. “We have such a good crew all around us, and it’s a good group of people to hang out with.

Some special requests will be made of the pro riders who visit the camp.

“The camp appeals to all levels and we also have some stuff that’s really big for the pros to come here and do,” he added. “It’s exciting for the kids to sit here and see stuff they would normally have to watch on video. They can see it right here live in front of their eyes.”

Halopoff also praised the “Soldiers’ lounge,” which features couches, TVs and video game consoles.

“That’s where we have our whole setup for the video revues and it’s a really cool atmosphere,” he said.

McClain said the first two sessions, the first of which began Monday, are so far “pretty slow” with 15 to 20 registered campers. The second two weeks are both “pretty packed” with about 30 in each session.

“More are coming in every day,” he said.

This year a special local’s package is offered for $99, which gives the purchaser private terrain park only. Other packages include lodging as well as the full camp.

Jude Smith of Leeds, England is enrolled for the first time in the Soldiers’ camp in the midst of a round-the-world trip.

“I think the coaching is really good,” Smith said. “So far I’ve had one-on-one coaching for the whole morning and I can do whatever I want. If I want to learn rails, they’ll take me on some rails and teach me that. If I want to learn jumps, they take me on the kickers. It’s good, really good.”

For more information on the camp, call toll-free 1-(888) 712-7772.