World-class skier Sarah Burke doesn’t like to go out for a beer after a long day of skiing (most of the time). She doesn’t like to watch TV, cook dinner, or play around. Sarah Burke likes to take a nap, and a hearty one at that. Napping practices and rigorous training put Burke at the top of her game, but she didn’t get that way all on her own. Momentum Ski Camp whipped her into shape beginning at age 14. And now, Burke is returning to her roots to coach the first ever Girls Week at Momentum July 2-10 in Whistler, BC.
John Smart founded Momentum Ski Camp 18 years ago in 1992 as a mogul camp. Smart started adding terrain park features to the camp in 1997, which helped kick start the freeride revolution. Today, the camp runs both mogul and freeride programs, and skiers can do a mix of both if they want. “When I started this camp I thought I would do it for no more than ten years,” Smart said. “However what I didn't realize at the time was that this camp was an extension of my passion for skiing and this is not something you want to quit.”
Smart may have aged a little in the years he has been a part of Momentum, but his achievements in the skiing world are still impressive. Smart was a mogul skier on the Canadian Team for ten years, competed in two Olympics, won 13 World Cup medals, 3 National Titles, and the World Pro Mogul Championships. He hopes to be able to infect campers with the same passion for skiing that led him to such success. “How we do this is to expose them to the most positive role models on snow who just so happen to be some of the best skiers in the world,” Smart said.
That’s where Burke comes in. Since her time as a camper at Momentum, she’s won three gold medals at the Winter X Games, one gold medal at the US Freeskiing Open, and was voted ESPN’s 2001 award for female skier of the year, making her the perfect coach for the first ever Girls Week during session 3 (July 2-10) of the camp. Girls Week will run alongside of Momentum's regular camps, but will be offering girls-only groups and more focused attention on female campers. Coaches include Sarah Burke, Roz Groenewoud and Meg Olenick on the Freeride side. Olympian Kristi Richards and World Cup skier Chelsea Henitiuk will head up the mogul side. “We want to really encourage young women to get and stay involved in freestyle skiing and what better way than through the mentorship and great technical skills of these inspirational skiers,” Smart said.
Smart hopes that the positive learning environment will inspire the girls to follow their passion for the sport, boost their confidence, and give them an unforgettable week of training and fun. “It’s a male-dominated sport and it gets intimidating,” Burke said. “I still get intimidated and I’ve been around it for years. But there is an energy with a group of girls. It’s inspiring, like, if she can do it, I can do it too.”
Smart believes that men and women have very different learning styles, which is why he and Burke thought that girls-only sessions would be beneficial. “I think men are more driven by something odd that makes them take chances. Perhaps it's the forces of testosterone, but they push themselves to perform by their competitive nature and desire to impress themselves and their peers,” Smart said. “I think women thrive in a more nurturing environment of encouragement and support, especially in the arena of extreme sports where the fear factor can, at times, get in the way of their potential to succeed.”
Even though Burke began competing with the boys at an early age, she is excited to spend time with the girls doing what they do best: helping each other push the future of skiing.
July 2-10 Whistler BC