A non-profit organization formed in memory of a local snowboarder sent its first athlete to Whistler where he learned from some of the best on the slopes earlier this month.
Boarding for Brant was created last year in honour of snowboarder Brant Holenstein and helps athletes achieve their sporting dreams.
This year was the first time the organization was able to send an athlete to ride slopes outside the Bulkley Valley.
“It was fun, there were good people to go with and we got lucky with the weather,” said 17-year-old Austin Arnett, who went on the eight-day trip to Whistler to attend Camp of Champions, a summer snowboard camp.
“We met a few pros which was cool and riding different features was cool because their park is a lot different from what we have here,” said Arnett.
In between snowboarding and mountain biking, Arnett was also able to watch Canadian snowboard legends Mark McMorris and Simon Chamberlain carve out the slopes.
According to Jason Krauskopf, president of RAYZ Boardshop and Holenstein family friend, Arnett was the perfect choice.
“Brant Holenstein was a kid exactly like Austin, so that’s why this was so fitting,” said Krauskopf. “Austin was the natural choice . . . He’s a role model, where Austin might be looking at Mark McMorris, all the little kids look at Austin Arnett in Smithers.”
Being able to watch the pros at work was incredibly motivating, said Arnett.
“It’s a lot different when you see people who are a lot better than you, it makes you want to try more,” he said.
Krauskopf added that while Arnett managed to learn new tricks, the trip was also about the experience.
“Austin is at the top of his game in Smithers, but to excel in any sport, you need to see people who are better than you,” he said. “You always need people better than you to push you and get you to the next level.”
Every year, the organization hopes to send an athlete to a ski or snowboard camp through donations and proceeds from Boarding for Brant apparel.
Holenstein passed away last May in a farming accident in Quick.
To contribute, visit the Boarding for Brant Facebook page.