Life in Chile for a Canadian Racer

Close to 60+ Ontario athletes will be travelling to the Southern Hemisphere in search of snow this month. They’ll find lots in Chile and according to the tips below they could even find some powder!

Thank you to the 8 AOA coaches & Scott for contributing to this article.

Just how many trips to Chile have AOA coaches made?

  • Kip Harrington, OST Head Coach & Program Director – 20+trips to date
  • Cam McKenzie, OST Men’s Head Coach – 7 trips
  • Scott Barrett, AOA Executive Director, CAST/OST Alumni – 6 trips (my first trip was with the OST women’s team in 2000 and Kip was my coach!)
  • Katie Twible, OST Women’s Head Coach – 5 trips (my first trip was at age 15 entering FIS. We went down to La Parva and it was my favorite trip because I was doing speed and learning how to jump. Coming back from that trip I felt like I could fly and conquer anything that season. That trip helped me to get through my first nor-am race at Lake Louise.)
  • Bebe Zoricic, SOD Coach – 4trips
  • Will Gyles, SOD Women’s Coach – 3trips
  • Graeme Buckrell, U16HPP Coach– 3trips
  • Heather Metzger, U16HPP Coach – 2trips
  • Jacques Reid, U14 Athletic Consultant to AOA – 2trips

What you’ll love about Chile….

Kip… The skiing first and foremost – long wide open runs, great terrain, winter snow with short lift lines except on a few weekends. Every now and then they get big dumps of snow and we can powder ski right off the lift lines. Chileans don’t really like powder, so it is all for us! But I love Chile in general. People are quiet, friendly and funny. The landscape is unique. And if we are lucky we will see giant Condors (birds with 3.5m wingspan) circling overhead.

Cam….The best part has to be the skiing. Wide runs, varied terrain, not too crowded. Tech or speed, freeski or gates – there are pretty much limitless options.

Scott…. The sunsets and sometimes being able to watch them while skiing down the hill!

Katie…  I love the huge open mountains. It is all above tree line so when Chile gets dumped on with snow there are endless amounts of face shots and tons of open spaces to ski.

Will…. Winter snow, lots of wide open and varied terrain and (usually) short lift lines.

Graeme… Skiing without trees!  I also loved being able to sell all my ski equipment down there for American money and not having to pay to bring it back!  You’ll find AMAZING Super G and speed tracks that are very safe since there nothing to hit.

Heather… winter conditions, beautiful scenery, simple life – a little like going back in time 🙂 experiencing a completely different culture.

Jacques…. Chileans are usually very friendly and happy to see foreigners! A day off in Santiago is always a great thing to do – and for those struggling with the elevation this might be just the day off you need! Also be sure to head out to a restaurant and order “Lomo a la pobre”, translated to “poor man’s steak”… its inexpensive and will fill you up! (see photo) One place I loved was in La Parva, adjacent to El Colorado, a great restaurant called “La Marmita” specializing in all kinds of Fondus with a great Chilean atmosphere…

What you might not love about Chile…

Kip….The food can be a bit salty and repetitive. I just remind myself that I’m there for the skiing, and bring some snacks.

Cam… The language barrier can be tough. You can always find a way to communicate (and usual someone that speaks English) but I kick myself for going on another international camp where I haven’t learned the local language. I really have to change this.

Katie….the long, intense bus ride out of Santiago to the top of the mountains.

Will… Long flight, although with the direct flight now there is less chance of losing luggage.

Bebe… The altitude may be challenging for athletes. Make sure you are fit.

Graeme.. It’s like camp, close living quarters and sometimes hard to find space.

Heather…. “instant” coffee  – pretty nasty 🙁

Jacques….You can be isolated which gets a bit tedious…make sure you have some good movies downloaded as you may not have a wonderful Wi-Fi connection. Bring a book, magazines, homework!..something that doesn’t require the internet.

Some last minute advice…..

Kip….Enjoy the awesome skiing! You will be at the top of a mountain on the other side of the world! You can expect that the language and culture will be something new, but respect that and have fun. Ski teams of all ages from Quebec and Ontario have been making the trek to Chile for 40 some years. Erik Guay and his family used to ski in Chile for most of the summer when he was 12-13 years old. Don’t be shy, have fun and I will see you all down there!

Cam……..Eat, Hydrate, Rest. Always. You’re going to be staying at altitude while skiing in Chile and it can quickly take its toll on the body. Drink thoroughly and consistently throughout the day. Well-timed naps are your best friend. If all else fails, wait until the sunsets for all  the Instagram content necessary to make all your friends back home envious of your ski racing, jet setting lifestyle!

Scott… Take it all in and enjoy the moment! It’s not every day that you get to go skiing in the southern hemisphere during a Canadian summer.

Katie ….bring extra energy bars for on hill that you like from home. Bring other food, like peanut butter, that you like to eat. Sometimes it is hard to find the food you like down there in their stores. Pack gravol (motion sickness pills) l in case you get car sick. The road is really back and forth climbing up the mountain from Santiago. Also don’t be afraid to sit in the front of the bus if you get sick. If you have had problems in the past with high altitude make sure to go to a doctor before you leave to get high altitude medication. We sleep at 10,000ft!!

Bring layers! It is winter in Chile 🙂

Lastly, bring an awesome attitude, not every kid your age gets the chance to go and ski in a foreign country and Chile is a pretty amazing place!

Will …..Be ready to reduce your time on-line. Take it all in and leave the camp a better skier and more experienced person.

Graeme ….Load up on movies, make ski videos, view sunsets and take it all in.  It is really fun being in a 3rd world country and seeing the culture of others.

Heather …..Be open minded and embrace the opportunity to learn about the world and how others live – learn a few key phrases to help you communicate:

Please – por favor

Thank you – gracias

Good day – Buenos dias

How are you – como estas?

Hot chocolate – chocolate caliente

JACQUES…..You’ll be in close quarters so get ready to make new friends. For the U16s WATCH the FIS athletes and the ONTARIO SKI TEAM train and race. Hopefully you’ll see some National level athletes as well. Visual learning is key and this is your chance to take it all in.

There you go…Chile in a nutshell…good snow, good sunsets, nice people and good food to be found if you look for it!

From the coaches & staff of AOA have a great trip South!