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Not So Black Sheep, by Joey Vosburgh

There has always been a harmless rivalry between skiers and snowboarders. The joking battle between friends for which is best; defending your “team” and mocking the other. So on the firs tday of one of my courses, when the lodge owner talking about what it takes to be a good guide joked “and if you’re a snowboarder, you might as well go home right now!”, I laughed it off.

I had spent the past 8 years touring hard, mainly with skiers and had stopped feeling inferior. If anything the jokes motivated me to prove them wrong. Pushed me to break more trail, to be the fastest at my transitions, and to ski my split when it would save time. So when the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) changed it’s policy on splitboard’s in the Ski Guide certification I was excited. I had the opportunity to show that I could meet the very high standards of the ACMG and prove that I could perform to the standard or better no matter what tool I decided to strap on my feet.

The reality is that there are differences beyond one plank vs two. For example, skiers and snowboarders use terrain differently. So having snowboard guides makes sense for an industry in which a growing portion of the clientele are snowboarders. The ACMG was onto this and had fully welcomed the use of splitboards for the Ski Guide courses and exams. They seemed interested and even excited about me being there.

The courses came and went with the usual amount of stress. To be honest, I really enjoyed them. The stress motivated me to be self analytical and there is always more to learn; the instructors were f*$king awesome and I learnt endless new tricks to apply to my own techniques. At the last training course I was recommended to proceed to the exam. It was a big moment for me and I began preparing for what I knew was going to a lot of hard work.

Rogers Pass and the Rockies were my exam venue. At first I was excited at the thought of nailing the exam on my home court, but as it got closer I realized there wasn't much advantage. If anything it would be hard to shake potentially bad habits I had developed over the years and the examiners may expect more from me.

Obviously I was stoked to hear I passed the exam, anyone would be. But I would like to bring recognition to the splitboard guides from previous years that had more struggles with the ACMG than I did. Since 1996, when Scott Newsome became the first snowboarder to pass the ACMG exam, there have only been a handful. Since 2012, everyone had to show they could also ski to the standard. Thanks to them the trail has been broken and with the right amount of training, confidence and positivity this lifestyle will become a reality for more splitboarders to come.

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