Sony of Canada

My Rope for Hope Experience

Four months ago when Make-A-Wish and I decided to team up for their first Rope for Hope event I really didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that I was interested and wanted to help. Our phone conversation concluded with me being a guest celebrity and although it wasn’t necessary for me to raise money I felt inclined to do so. Mostly because while I get to live my wish everyday the Make-A-Wish kids are facing life treating challenges which affects both them and their loving families. 

Within a week I was already at $1500 and decided to up my goal by a thousand dollars.  It took a while but all these people helped me come very close to my goal. Overall, I raised $2380 with the help of; Sony of Canada, G&G Electronics customers, Cheryl and Gary Tsuyuki, Edith, George and Kimberly Myslicki, Linda Nakamoto, Teddy Guay, Kris Owikawa, Linda Owikawa, Anna Holancin, J Peter Milner, Stacey Carmichael, Susan Sims, Derek McDonald, SportExcel Inc., Edison Wai, Canadianweb Solutions, Kristina Jacobson, Ken Coombs, Ray Edamura, Derek Salvatin, Anita Cristan, and Helen Thomas. These people made a big difference in lives that needs change. 

It was amazing how fast the time flew by and before I knew it I was in front of City Hall in Torontobeing greeted by the wonderful volunteers of the Rope for Hope event.  I had a great support crew; Garrett, Kimberly and my parents, who showed up along with my trusty camera man Roberto.  Before I knew it I was being whisked up the elevator to go up the 27 stories of City Hall to the roof. 

A company called Over the Edge were the professionals running the ropes course and I could tell they were well educated in their craft.  I would even say that climbing was their passion.  Jeff was helpful getting me into my harness and making sure it was tight and all the clips were closed and I was safe to go.  Next, I was on to a mini training course to make sure I knew how to work all the equipment.  Mad Dog from Virgin Radio in Toronto was repelling with me, and his comical comments relieved some of the tension, which was mostly coming from him…I was calm still, but that wasn’t going to last long.
The last step was getting on to the roof, it was at this time the true height of the building hit me and as my head poked out from the well of the ladder and I saw over most buildings in the downtown core.  Without even thinking I was strapped into the repel device and the safety device.  My camera man radioed in for the green light and it was my time to go. 

So now I had to get on to the ledge, the ledge that leads to nothing.  I was pretty good until I was told to turn around with my back to the abyss of air.  It got even worse when I had to lean into my harness and trust it was going to hold me…it was a 30 story drop behind me.  Once I was comfortable I was really excited to get on the move. 

It seemed like it took forever to get down the first half and I was sure to stop and take in the views of the cityscape and the lake.  I knew this was a chance of a lifetime.  After the halfway mark the rope was feeding through the device smoother and I was able to cruse down.  When my feet hit the ground I was a bit sad it was over but relieved.  It was also great to see all the wonderful people at the bottom greeting me. 
 
Other participants in the event included wish children and families, such as Tara, 18, Cystic Fibrosis, 
whose wish was granted in 2011 and had a double lung transplant in February 2012. Tara is doing so well that both her and her dad went over City Hall as a team to support Make-AWish. Wish dad Brian , and firefighter Shaun, rallied together to raise funds and support MakeA-Wish, post 4-year-old Owen’s wish to be a firefighter, which was granted on World Wish Day® in April. Wish child and wish ambassador, Madison, 14, Leukemia, and her best friend, YTV’s Life with Boys star, Michael Murphy, took part in Rope for Hope yesterday as well. 



Make-A-Wish really knows how to put on a good show and I am proud to be associated with them.  I strongly suggest everyone should do a charity event like this.  It was new and exciting and a unique challenge for myself, another gala, walk, or run does not seem that interesting after doing Rope for Hope.  So keep an eye out for the next Rope for Hope event that will be coming to your city soon!!    


Empowering the Youth

Seems in these fast times with more attention to the media and less to ourselves we can easily get lost in the mix. At least, this is how I feel and I am an adult…most of the time. 
Empowering ourselves and others give the chance for change.  This can be a catalyst to something grand, something imperative to a life. 

Today I was able to see others in my hometown community of East Scarborough take steps to empower the local youth at the 2012 Unity in the Community Youth Conference hosted by the East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club.  I was invited to speak on a panel discussing empowerment and how we were empowered. 

One person spoke about how education and being self sufficient empowers them,  referring to the “catch a man a fish or teach a man to fish” phrase.  Another spoke about how expression through art empowered them with the freedom of creativity.  I spoke about how inspiring youth through setting an example of following a passion supported by hard work empowered me.  What I didn’t say was that even just being there, feeding off the energy in the room also empowered me.  What a feeling!

I then found my way around to different workshops.  The first was with Claude, he was speaking to a group of males about how education was the key to success.  He emphasized that it doesn’t matter if you do it all at once, because sometimes life happens, but you do need to complete it at some point to give you the best chance at success in life.  The next was with a group of young females and that leader spoke about how media contradicts itself constantly, how it is important to recognize this and take it into account when buy products or thinking about one’s body image.  The last one was with Amir, this was mostly a discussion on how our perception of others affects us and why certain faces makes us feel differently about people before we become acquainted with them.  I am sure the participants in the groups were as enthused as I was. 

The last big event was the community walk, a 5km walk around the heart of East Scarborough.  Not only was it a chance to get out into the beautiful Torontosun, but it also gave me the fortune to speak to some of the youth at the conference on a more personal level.  Three students in particular caught my attention.  A bubbly girl named Khusubu, the creative one, Taylor, and the comical one Mayo.  I loved learning about what their passions were and their special roles in their clique of friends.  I was so impressed on how bright and insightful this gang was for being in grade 8, they all spoke at least two languages and were so open minded.  I was especially taken with 13year old Khusubu and her discussion on how insecurities are derived from fear…she is going to email me the book she is writing and the one her friend is writing…no big deal.   
 
When I left the conference with certificate in hand and a thank you card I really felt as though I needed to thank the East Scarborough Boys & Girls club for having me at the event.  I loved meeting new people, like constable Mat Crisp, and talking about how to make changes and improvements in local communities.  I felt recharged and motivated to go out and empower the people around me.  This day was the best part of my week and I will be sure to carry it for a long time! 

Special Thanks to Nneka for the invitation

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Passion Pushes Athletes

Lately I have been trying to notice everyday people who live with passion in their lives.  Since I have been spending a lot of time in Blackcomb’s park I have had the chance to meet up with new riders who are truly locals.  
First, I met Martin; he is from Argentina and an instructor for the resort.  He packs in whole days where breaks are seldom.  Next I met JP, fully educated and trying to make a  career in Whistler in the fitness industry.  He also is on the mountain every day he can be with big smiles, taking full advantage of his pass.
It is clear to me that snowboarding is their world.  It’s what they dream of day and night, where goals are not necessarily to be a pro, but to learn, practice, and improve.  Snowboarding is their passion and I was excited to see them expressing it.  The past couple of days have had a lot of great times. 
All this makes me think of the passion of other athletes, not just snowboarders.  With 76 days left until the start of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, I can almost feel the excitement building across the country, and I too want to get involved.
I decided to choose an athlete to follow to and though the Games, this will give me an inside feel to the big event from a participant’s point of view at the Summer Games.  
Rosie MacLennan
I have a connection to a few athletes who are potential or are going to the Games already but none who’s sport can be related to snowboarding.  That is until I remembered my Pilates trainer, Fanny at Health Movement, also trained a trampoline athlete, Rosie MacLennan.  Trampoline would be perfect as it is several acrobatic movements in a row and it’s judged.  I definitely felt there is a connection. 
I contacted Rosie and she is thinking about it now. I am excited to connect with another athlete whose passion is pushing them towards perfection and greatness.  There must be many similarities in our journeys to the Games.  This also gives me the change to help promote the interest of our Olympic team, so we are all active in supporting them. 
Until I get a response, it’s back up to Blackcomb to practice my own craft.  My own qualifying for Sochi starts August 25th at Cardrona resort in New Zealand, and I am going to be ready to bring it!

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Above the Clouds

Seems like life always has more curve balls than expected, thus far my time in BC has been a bit frustrating.  Festivals, weather and other miscellaneous happenings are interfering with my plans.  As I have said before, during these days it is important to see the positive side.  

Yes, those are people!
Where's the Pipe?
I have been home for two weeks and due to weather, contests and photo shoots I have not ridden a solid day in the pipe.  Most of the time the pipe looks like this.
 That’s not to say that I haven’t been getting work done, just not the work I planned to do.  I came here to work on two specific tricks, but end up riding jumps, rails and the natural features of the mountain.  The positive part is that I still work on the essence and fundamentals of the tricks on these other features, and I must admit that I do have a lot of fun working new components. 

This makes me think about my seminar on passion and how a good work ethic supports my following of snowboarding.  Sometimes I don’t want to try new things because I know I will be awkward at them, let’s face it…no one wants to look uncoordinated and sloppy.  But in the end I trust my coach and am determined so I am willing to put myself out there; at this time of the year it means getting soaked too!  I know it will all contribute to the successes of my goals in the future. 

For today, it’s getting some house and computer work done.  I have the privilege of Rope for Hope, a thirty story repel in June for Make-A-Wish Foundation, so, I will be looking for sponsors.  Check out all the action HERE

For tomorrow, it will be waking up and looking to get the most out of my day.  My fingers are crossed for the sun to be out!!!    

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Passion

The last ten years of my life have been passion driven, and I must say that I am privileged to have found things I was passionate about at a young age.  I was lucky enough to be exposed to many experiences to gauge what my possible passions were.  However, not every kid out there is as fortunate as I was, and I am pretty sure the schooling curriculum does not include finding your passion.  So, for the past few weeks I have been composing a presentation to take to schools and social groups to get kids thinking.


My goal is to get them to think about what they are good at, enjoy, and are interested in.  Or to just be more conscience of what is happening around them so they can get some ideas on what they could be passionate about.  I feel this is an important step to get kids motivated and confident again. 


Included in my presentation is talk about how to make passions a realistic occupation, since I have so many great examples around me to pull from.  I live with examples like my friend Tenika, who is pursuing acting and modeling, but has her Bachelor of Arts in political science.  When speaking to her about this project she reminded me that your passion almost has to be an obsession, where perseverance gets you though many set backs.  With her, it is audition after audition, where getting turned down is a very common occurrence.  Another amazing example is my parents and our family business.  They deal with a lot of crap, but they are passionate about retail.  My Mom loves the social aspect and my Dad loves directing and taking care of everyone.  At times he sounds like air traffic control, making it happen for the people around him.  Lastly, I think of my own adventures and how the love of snowboarding makes me responsible and have initiative to work on my own on the mountain and off the mountain.  We are all people who followed our calling.   
 
Even though all our passions are different we all have one common trait…a great work ethic.  This characteristic allows us to live our passions as a job, where we live to work and not work to live, and we are okay with this.  It would be amazing if the next generation of workers lived like this too.  More people would take pride in what they do, work quality would rise, and the ordinary person would live a much happier life.

I am excited about this project and having the opportunity to inspire others to follow and live their dreams, as I was inspired to do years ago.  I have found great supporters like Sony of Canada, Iyashi Bedrock Spa, Anakie, Scott Goggles and iFound.  And I can’t forget about my incredible parents and coach/partner Roberto Marfia.  My supporters mixed with passion and work ethic is a recipe for success.  And with a little help, I believe anyone can follow this recipe.  I would love the chance to help a kid find their way and place in this world.         

If you would like more information on a presentation, which right now is a free presentation, please fill out a email form at /   

Canadian Snowboard Championships

The Canadian Snowboard Championships are over and as I had forecasted, it was a great contest.  The contest was unlike any I have been to before.  Probably the best Canadian contest in a while.


For me it started with arriving in Calgary three days in advance.  My first day riding was a fun one and it was great to see some new faces around the Calgary Olympic Park pipe, but I was especially stoked to see the old faces too.  The sun was out with warm and soft conditions. 

There were the same conditions the next day, so the officials made the decision to cancel practice.  It was a little funny because I was starting to see a pattern emerge.  This was the third cancelled practice before the contest this season.   

Once again I turned to my mental coach, Bob Palmer, to help me visualize some snow time, giving me an edge on other athletes.  We had a great session in substitute for the last day of training.  Although almost nothing could prepare me for the conditions on contest day. 

It was a Friday and it was warm all day.  We didn’t get started until the late afternoon hoping the cooler temperatures would help keep the pipe’s shape.  Although we waited later in the day to start, the semi-qualifiers of the women and men left some ruts and bumps across the bottom and down the walls.   The worst part was that the temperature was dropping leaving the rutted shapes frozen in the snow.

I had qualified in third place and it was time for finals.  Dropping in was like a rodeo, not knowing where I was going to be bucked, but I was able to pull together a run on my first one and it was decent but I thought I could improve on it. At the end of the women’s first run I was in second. 

At the start of the men’s first run I could see a crew of people start walking up to the pipe course.  They came up the rider’s right side of the pipe and all the way to the starting area.  They were even walking all over the drop on the right side of the pipe.  A bunch of people had costumes on like 80s one piece ski suits with wigs, astronaut cowboys, pokey, etc.  People started walking down the bob sled track and one guy even passed was lying in the patrol toboggan; it was mayhem.  Once we got some crowed control at the top the men were able to start dropping again.

I saw a lot of men getting bucked around the pipe and when I went for my second run all I was thinking about was just staying on my feet.  I accomplished that but the run wasn’t so pretty.  So I was relying on my first run’s score.
  
My first run won me second place.  I wanted to do better but I was so happy to see how proud my parents were.  It was enough for me.  

                                                                                                           Another awesome part was the flash dance mob and their 2000 boom boxes all tuned into the same transmitted station, from a FM transmitter, the party was pumping in the viewing area.  It was nice to have a Canadian contest with more than 50 people at the bottom.  Here are some pictures, as you can see it was crazy. 

I was satisfied with second, but winning would have been awesome.  Still, it felt good to get back on the podium; it has been a long contest year.  Looking back at all my results this year I noticed that I had a better placing with every contest.  This is the important thing to look at because it’s going to be a build up to Sochi.  I don’t want to be hitting the ceiling now, peaking at the right time will be paramount.  

I didn’t get to say a speech on the podium but I am so thankful for the people who came out to support me.  Of course there were my biggest fans my Mom and Dad, Stacy Carmichael, Bruce Inguard, Chris Castle and Wyatt (my littlest fan).  Thanks guys for hanging out in the cold.  I can’t forget about Joanne Wright, she was our snowboard mom when I was starting all this and it was great to see her again.

Of course none of the people who make my life less stressful, my sponsors Sony of Canada, Scott, Anakie, Iyashi Bedrock Spa, iFound, and Allian.  I am the luckiest person because I get to live my dream every day.

I could never forget about all the hard work my coach puts into me as well.  His dedication and commitment has been paramount to my season results.  So a huge thanks to Roberto Marifa and Focus Elite Training. 


Now I am excited to get some time again to train, and I have taken more things into account this time.  I know what I need to work on in the pipe and out of the pipe to help spring me in front of the competition.  Training season here I come!!
  

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Last Leg of Contest Season

I left the US Open at Stratton Vermont last week with a feeling of needing more.  It was a strange contest in the sense that they ran close to a thousand runs in the pipe the day of my qualifying.  For the first time they ran both men’s pre-qualifiers and qualifiers in the same day, including women’s qualifiers, heat of 70 men and ladies for two runs.  Strange.  This translated to the women’s second run as a write off, with some of the women even choosing not to take a run because of the condition of the course.  The organizers then decided not to let the men ride their second run that late afternoon because of the dangerous condition of the pipe and let them ride the next morning…I just wish we had the same luxury. 

So, I had to finish my contest there with an unsatisfactory finish and turn to just having fun with my family instead.  I was ok with it because I had a great time, renting skis and skiing with my Mom and Dad.  My latest video blog is about this, check it out here. It was a lot of fun to make. 

Now it was time for me to focus on the new task at hand.  Canadian Nationals, also known as the Snow Crown event.  I made some appointments in Torontoto see my witch doctor and to get into Iyashi, my two favourite places to get fixed and unwind.

My witch doctor I can’t give details on her identity, but I will say she is the best and has worked with many famous Canadian athletes.  I always feel like a can of worms going to see her since there’s always something wrong with almost every sector of my body.  Still, it’s great to keep things in check and get my hips and spine realigned, my ankle scaring broken down, etc, etc.  She’s not really a witch, but I call her that because I instantly feel changes after seeing her and that is hard to accomplish with normal physios. 

I was sure to get into Iyashi for a relaxing, almost meditative time.  Not only was the heat good on that cold rainy day, but so was getting things in order in my mind.  I was happy to hear just how much rock bathing was catching on in Toronto; I think people would like it if they tried it, it’s a great way to quiet down in the hustle of a city.

I flew to Toronto to Calgary the next day and was greeted with bizarre weather.  In one day it hailed, was sunny and warm, then very windy, and finally snow finished it off.  Typical Calgary weather in the spring! I met up with friends and made plans to go see John Carter at the Imax.  It was the best movie I have seen in a long time; very inspiring for the next day of training. 

That day was today.  I had a decent day of pipe riding.  Some real pipe legends have come out for this event, including Olympian Crispin Lipscomb.  It was really fun to get back in the pipe with my old friend.  Brad Martin and Bahamian rider Kory Wright were also out boosting airs.  No one got crazy, just had fun, in fact I think I did more ticks today they did.  I laded my run a few times after warming up to the new pipe.

I really want to do my best in this contest.  We lost a day of training; tomorrow’s training was cancelled due to warm weather coming in.  I have scheduled a virtual session with Sport Excel so to me I will be riding the best private pipe.  I have the need to get more out of this contest, especially after the unsatisfied feeling the US Open left in me.  I am hungry for the podium and am doing my best to get myself there.  Friday will be a great day, a great contest!       

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No Matter the Weather

When I turned up at practice on Monday morning I was ready for anything; thank goodness because of the 80km wind gusts and sometimes white squall conditions were unfavourable.  Practice started late because the pipe maintenance people had to deal with the six inches of snow in the bottom and when the course did open we had to ride in the gusty cross winds. 

Many athletes left training with only a few runs under them but our crew, Lauren Shanahan, Coach Roberto Marfia, and myself, stayed until the end.  I had heard a storm was coming in and I wanted to get a good feel for the pipe.  The pipe its self had a beautiful shape…it was just the stubborn weather that was adverse.   

I awoke Tuesday morning to sun out my window but still there was that pesky wind.  I had a bad feeling about practice.  Sure enough the message came down the line that practice was cancelled for both snowboarders and skiers.  This was going to be the last day of practice before qualifiers.  A bit annoying but I was okay with this, I had Bob Palmer that evening, so I was going to ride in my mind anyway. 

This extra time gave me the opportunity to get some much needed work done.  I started my athlete page on Facebook and sent the word out to my FB friends.  I updated my website with news and some pictures.  In addition to all of that I set up a meeting with the Make-A-Wish foundation to see if I could be a part of their Rope for Hope event.  In this event 90 participants who raise the most money repel from a 30 storey building in the heart of downtown Toronto.

When Roberto came back from the riders meeting that night it was said that if the skier qualifiers were cancelled on Wednesday then the formatting would be changed to a one run qualifier including both skiers and snowboards, opposed to the separate days for skiers and snowboarders who get two runs each.  Again this was all good because I have Palmer in my corner.   

My meeting with Bob Palmer was great.  We went through some preparation exercises that will give me the edge on my competitors.  To me I had a great day in the pipe, working my passes and running through new tricks I want to land.  I ended the meeting in a state of readiness. 

That night I went to bed listening to the howling of the wind outside my window and even was woken up by it in the middle of the night.  I had a feeling that the skier qualifiers would be pushed back and the alternative format would be implied. 

Sure enough today, the now 160km winds cancelled the skier qualifiers and there was no practice for anyone.  Here is a picture taken with my Sony NEX-5 with a fisheye lens.

Once again I am left to snowboarding in my head where it is always sunny and with a perfect pipe.  To me, I have already performed my run about twenty times and practiced a bunch of drills. 

Tomorrow it should be sunny out, go figure.  I might only have one run, but I am ready for that run and will make it count!      

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