By Marilyn Smulders - February 21, 2011
C A N A D A G A M E S
No matter how many times she’s done it, Charlotte Butcher confesses to being nervous and scared as she looks over the lip of the halfpipe, ready to plunge herself down the three-metre wall and into the icy bowl.
“Sometimes I can’t think about it, I just ride,” says the 19-year-old snowboarder. “And then once I do it, I remember how exhilarating it is. It’s so much fun, you want to loop back and do another run and another run.”
Even though she’s “still learning” the halfpipe and only a year into serious competition, Ms. Butcher made the cut for Nova Scotia’s snowboarding team. The first-year Dalhousie student will compete in the halfpipe at the Canada Games. From nearby Port Williams, N.S., she’s thrilled that the snowboarding events (halfpipe, parallel giant slalom and snowboard cross) will be held at Ski Martock, her home-away-from-home since first strapping on a board.
Snowboarding can be tough to master and some girls get turned off, especially if learning comes with an audience, she says. “It can be hard to get the hang of it. You can feel kinda clumsy,” says Ms. Butcher, who is studying community design at Dalhousie. “A lot of girls are afraid of being judged by the guys who are standing around.”
She believes getting confidence is a matter of taking lessons and practicing until hurtling down a hill with both feet lashed to a board feels like second nature.
Helping her get ready is her coach Natasha Burgess, one of two coaches for Nova Scotia’s snowboard team.
“I think snowboarders have great attitudes,” she says. “The competition can be intense but they’re relaxed and level headed. It’s really a fun sport.”
Like a lot of other women in the sport, Ms. Burgess started out as a skier and ski instructor until a shortage of snowboard instructors at Martock convinced her to give it a try. As a skateboarder, she turned out to be a natural at snowboarding.
She believes four years of kinesiology study at Dalhousie is good preparation for coaching, covering the basics of sports psychology, coaching, physiology and biomechanics. “As an athlete, I believe you have to be fit and psychologically ready. I’m really interested in working with the thinking athlete.”
Dalhousie is a proud Sapphire Sponsor of the 2011 Canada Games. For more: