Monthly Archives: April 2011


Over the next few months I’ll be sharing some brief memories of my favourite cities I’ve visited over the years.  Where better to start than with Vancouver, possibly my favourite city of all.

I’ve had the pleasure of spending quite a bit of time in Vancouver and it just seems to get better with every visit.

So what is it?  What makes it special?  And why is it that whenever I fly into this city I hear people saying “wow I could live here” ?

You might think the answer is obvious.  The view.  The classic North American sky line, the Pacific Ocean and the backdrop of the Coast Mountains make Vancouver one of the most spectacular cities on the planet.  But in order to discover the secrets of the city one must look beyond the view.  On arrival in Vancouver I would recommend dumping the luggage and heading straight to the waterfront.  The design of the high rise condos that overlook the harbour seem to blend seamlessly into the water and mountains beyond and don’t look at all out of place.  They add something that is key to the place, the wealth and a sense of clean, healthy living.

A stunning, if rather expensive location!

The clean, sleek lines of the high rise condos roll out onto the sidewalks filled with people running, cycling, jogging or just enjoying a stroll.  This is a city where activity and health is king.  If you’re not an active person in Vancouver then you are in the minority!  On a beautiful sunny day the sidewalks will be filled with people enjoying what the city has to offer.  Stanley Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America.  On any day it is full of Vancouverites enjoying this truly magnificent space.  A 15 minute walk from downtown takes you into the park with its seawall walks, tree lined paths and numerous skating and cycling lanes.

I’ve had the pleasure of eating in some of Vancouver’s finest restaurants, my favourite being The Lift Bar and Grill. Why? I could sit their for hours just looking at the view!

Vancouver is a city that loves its sport! The Vancouver Canucks are the cities biggest sport attraction! NHL is Hockey truly is Canada’s game and to steal an old slogan “Its Vancouver’s Canucks”. You can’t avoid them in the city, pretty much everyone is a fan and when the team are on a run and when Rogers Arena is rocking then there is no better place to be in the city!

Its towel time!

If you get the chance to take in this city then do it! It has a great atmosphere, stunning views and its just a down right great place to be!


BBQ Blog!

Any of my regular readers will know that I use this page to talk a lot about winter sport and occasionally about coaching.

As a slight light-hearted interlude to this and to attempt to record just how much meat myself and my bbq loving Canadian house mate eat over the course of this summer, I’ve started the BBQ BLOG!

Canadians love BBQ

Central Scotland isn’t know for its BBQ weather but the recent spell of summer thrust us into action to sort out our outdoor cooking device. Everything was installed and ready to go on Thursday 21st of May and within 15 minutes, it rained.  Nevertheless, we cracked on that evening, the following evening and tonight (Saturday) making it 3 days in a row. Its highly likely that due to Canadians’ love of outdoor cooking that our BBQ will be in action every night.

Lets take a look at the meat count so far:

  • 2 Standard Beef Burgers
  • 1 Pork and Apple Burger
  • 1 Sirloin Steak
  • 3 rather large kebabs
  • 2 Piri Piri Chicken Breasts
  • 2 Rib Eye Steaks
  • 1 Home made beef burger
  • 4 Standard Sausages
So 16 bits of meat in 3 days between 2 people is a nice steady start.

One can never have enough meat!

So there you go, 3 days in and everything is going well so far. Hosting a larger scale event on Sunday which will dramatically add to the amount of meat cooked.

Our first real test will come when rainy season begins.

Perseverance will prevail where all others will fail!


Developing expertise in coaches

I’ve recently been considering expertise in coaching in relation to sports like my own (ski cross) which as yet don’t have any formal coach education systems.

Schempp and McCullick in Lyle and Cushion 2010 state that there is no substitute for experience when it comes to developing expertise in coaching.  The challenge for myself as a ski cross coach is “where does the expertise come from?”  Many coaches, including myself, have experience in the sport although the sport has changed significantly over the past few years.  Ski cross coaching in my experience comes from doing the job.   This does result in inexperienced ski cross coaches finding themselves coaching at a high level due to experience they have in alpine racing.

Schempp and McCullick 2010 go on to state that many coaches ignore the lessons offered by their experience but in ski cross this might be a good thing as many coaches just don’t have the experience in the sport.  I questioned my own experience in the sport and how this relates to my coaching.  Having competed in the sport, albeit in a different era, I had some experience to fall back on however in a one month block of training the athletes would complete more runs on a ski cross course than I had completed in my life.  Whilst this meant I had limited experience as a competitor, I did mean that I had been through the process of ski cross competition which was invaluable in my early days as a ski cross coach.

I drew heavily upon my alpine racing experience as an athlete and as a coach in terms of planning and structuring the training and competition phase.  I used the experience of ski cross athletes to help with the planning and training activities and I would say that much of my experience now as a coach draws heavily upon the past experience of my athletes.  The first season of competition was a learning experience as I learned that the schedule of ski cross races placed many unexpected challenges on the athletes which led to changes in the program for my second season as a coach.  In a new and ever developing sport it is important to be very open minded, use your own experience, learn from the experience of others (athletes and coaches) and to be prepared for the sport to change direction suddenly.


Halfpipe Skiing for Sochi 2014

So today the IOC delivered the news many had been waiting for! Halfpipe skiing is to be included in the 2014 Winter Olympics for both men and women.

Its great to see the IOC and FIS make recognition of the fact that winter sport is changing and this move to include another “youth” sport will only help broaden the appeal of the games. Snowboard halfpipe has been in the Winter Olympics since Nagano 1998 and has been a huge hit ever since. The buzz and draw that Shaun White brought to Vancouver 2010 was unrivalled in winter sports and now skiers have the chance to show what they can do in the pipe!

This means freestyle skiing now has 4 medal events (Ski Cross, Aerials, Moguls and Halfpipe) and with Slopestyle still not ruled out (decision pending a inspection visit to Sochi on the 23rd of April) we could see another event added to what is already a diverse and highly appealing array of events.

Halfpipe skiers beware though! This means changes to what you do! FIS competitions will become the mainstay of your competition and the number of talented athletes you thought were out there will double over night. Nations will form national halfpipe squads and the professionalism in the sport will increase to a new level. I’ve seen it in ski cross and GB are still playing catch up to the big nations. Be prepared to work harder than ever before, be challenged in ways you never thought possible and be ready for the toughest of challenges in attempting to qualify for the games. Just has halfpipe fought hard for its inclusion, all you halfpipe athletes out there will have to fight hard for your place in the games! Enjoy the journey, its tough but will sure be worth it.


10 things that make Scottish Snowsports awesome!

In no particular order I’ve decided to list 10 things which I think make Scottish Snowsports Awesome. We often hear it said, mostly from our friends south of the border that its more expensive to get to Scotland than it is to get to the Alps. Well, not everyone lives in Surrey and not every flight is a budget one to Geneva, Zurich or Innsbruck! See if you agree with my list and feel free to add some more!

1. The Terrain - If you are looking for huge motorway pistes then look elsewhere! If you want hills with a bit of bite then come to Scotland.  Each of the centres has its own uniqueness from the back corries at  Nevis to the West Wall at Cairngorm. There is something different and to me it feels like I’m skiing on a real mountain!

2. The Atmosphere – Is it just me or does anyone else get a real buzz about clicking into the bindings on home snow? I don’t know what it is but when driving up to Glenshee or riding the Nevis Gondola I get a level of excitement that I don’t seem to get anywhere else. Maybe its a sense of pride that I’m skiing in a place where many think you can’t or maybe there really is something special about the Scottish hills!

3. The Locals - What a friendly bunch they are! Happy to help, assist or just chat away after a day on the slopes. Most people seem to really get a kick out of people visiting the area and are only to happy to provide a traditional Scottish welcome!

4. The Weather – It can be bad, it can be good. I’ve had some of my best days ever in Scotland and some of my worst. I could say the same about Whistler though. The point is, its not as bad as people say it is. Just come prepared, you are going for a play in the mountains. Its not sunny all the time and you won’t find a Foille DOUCHE to drink champagne in after a day on the slopes. Enjoy the weather for what it is. Its part of the experience!

5. The Price – Touchy subject here. Its not super cheap but you won’t be paying 12 euros for a coffee either. I’ve paid just over £20 (with a student discount) at Glenshee which I think is good value. 1 hour in a snow dome can cost more! Resorts can be good at reducing prices if there is less terrain available. Bed and Breakfasts can cost £30 a night and the price of beer is cheaper than in most towns.

6. Location – WOW! Go stand on the summit at Nevis Range and look out down the sea lochs and tell me that’s not special. You are in one of the most beautiful parts of the United Kingdom and you will struggle to find views as good anywhere else!

7. Nostalgia - Some of the lifts are a bit old, there are snow fences everywhere and you see the odd bit of kit from 30 years ago! If you like skiing and boarding as it was before budget airlines and motorway pistes then you will enjoy a day out in Scotland. Everyone is out enjoying the snow, thats the most important thing!

8. Variety – Touched on this before but felt it needed its own heading. There really is ample terrain for all levels. Great beginner skiing at the Lecht or on the Cairngorm plateau and steep and deep in the back bowls of Nevis. For more intermediate levels then you will find blue runs aplenty to cruise down and enjoy the ride!

9. Snow – We get a lot of it! The problem is it melts. But then we get a lot more! Its not always perfect but if the wind comes from the right direction then the resorts just fill up with snow. Cairngorm had lifts open into June in 2010!

10. Fun – Its all about fun! I think skiing in Scotland is fun. I think skiing anywhere is fun! I enjoy the experience, the old lifts, the chatty lifties, jumping the odd patch of heather. It can make for an interesting day!

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