Interview with Sam over Van Life and Snowboarding
ATBShop Team Rider Samantha Frith, takes time out of her 2 year travelling to speak with us about Avant Premier Board Test 2015, taking early retirement, living in a Van and riding in snow everyday.
So what made you decide to leave the rat race and head out travelling?
Sam: I have always had the view that you should be happy in your work and be doing what you want to do. So for years I worked summer seasons as a water sports instructor. But the money was poor. So when I met my boyfriend we decided to settle down and work hard for a few years so that we could then play for a while. In a few years we managed to pay off our debits, kit out a new campervan and save enough money so that we can afford to snowboard for a whole season and not have to work. I like to think of it as early part retirement… before I am 30 years old!
Where are you staying at present and what in?
Sam: I’m currently based In the 3 Valleys. It seems that Courchevel is acting as a bit of a magnet. I have a lot of friends based there and there is always someone to ride with. I am living in our little chalet on wheels (aka a campervan) which is fully kitted out with all the essentials. My full sized oven and little log burner are making life cosy.
You’ve been out here for 77 days, are there any regrets or moments where you’ve thought – “I’ve made a mistake I want to go home”
Sam: No. I was stood on the pistes of Courchevel 1850 as the clocks struck midnight on New Year’s Day smiling so hard, telling myself that this is going to be the best year of my life! Ok, it is not always going to be easy, and we have had a few hiccups, but I feel so lucky to be in the position I am in. I get to snowboard everyday, I have met some amazing people and I am not having to worry about tomorrow.
What’s been the best thing about your travels so far?
Sam: No brainier… Getting to snowboard everyday. Oh and not having to worry about balancing late nights and work 😉
So at the moment you’re out doing a season in the snow resorts. What’s your current setup and are you happy or are you going to change anything?
Sam: I’m riding a Never Summer 2013 Lotus 151 and Union Trilogy bindings with Northwave Opal boots. I have only recently moved to Union from Flow after 8 years. One of the best decisions I’ve made in a very long time! I have also tested some awesome ladies equipment this week so I might be giving ATBshop a call in the near future and buy myself an early birthday present.
You’re putting your kit through it’s paces – what’s broken or wearing out fast?
Sam: In my first week my top ladder on my binding snapped. I didn’t notice until I tried strapping in at the top of a mountain and had to ride all the way down with one foot firmly strapped in. The laces on my boots have snapped, My mittens are loosing their waterproofing and have a few rips and the seams on my jacket is also taking a beating by the edges of my board after carrying it around resort. I’m not even half way through my season!
Safety is really important to ATBShop, what precautions do you take to stay safe on those mountains?
Sam: I never go out without my Helmet (Bern), Back Protector (Protec), Wrist Guards (Dakine), Butt pads (Demon) and Knee pads (661). I have also got into the habit of always riding with my avalanche receiver. This might sound a bit extreme (and I could bang on about why for ages) but I believe that in the grand scheme of things, carrying an extra small device that’s no bigger than your mobile phone which will help someone find you should the worst happen is really worth it.
Any bad injuries this year or in previous years?
Sam: No! Goodness knows how? Possibly because I have always ridden with decent protection. The odd bruise here and there but nothing to boast about.
If others were thinking about doing a snowboard season what advice would you give them?
Sam: Find a good company to work for. If possible talk to someone who has worked for them and who can give you positive feedback. Or, if you are not planning to work, save lots of money!
What advice would you give to a girl getting into snow boarding?
Sam: Buy some decent butt pads! Lol. Seriously, you really cannot afford to care about how you look in the first few days of learning. I’m not going to lie, hitting the ground hurts. Wear as much padding as possible, then once you’ve got it, you can stop looking like Mr Blobby and start to fully enjoy yourself without the aches and pains.
What’s in your backpack when you head out to the slopes?
Sam: If I’m just cruising the pistes or park I generally won’t wear a backpack but will stuff my pockets with a bottle of water, chocolate bars, money, tissues, mobile phone, avalanche receiver and GoPro on a lanyard to catch a few cheeky photos. If I am planning to go off piste I’ll take my backpack (Dakine) out which contain my shovel and probe (Ortovox) a spare layer of clothing and I can then also free up my pockets!
About Avant Premier and Snowboard Tests
So Avant Premiere board test 2015 in La Clusaz was pretty awesome. For those of you who don’t know what board test is, it’s a chance for all the major snowboard brands to showcase their latest boards, boot, bindings, googles, helmets and apparel. Any shop worth it’s salt sends out their staff and team so they know what they’re buying for next season and can give customers good recommendations. ATBShop invests a lot of time and money into going out to two board tests a year, trying and testing all the kit. We also go to dealer meetings and to trade shows to make sure you’re riding the best products out there. If we don’t like it or it rides or performs bad then we don’t sell it. ATBShop only sells equipment we use and we believe in.
Sam, how many board tests seasons have you now done?
Sam: This was my fourth.
What’s the best thing for you about board test?
Sam: I get to test some amazing shiny new kit. I am always nervous about buying kit if I cannot test it first. The test gives me the opportunity to talk to the manufacturers and reps and get feedback from other ladies about what kit I should be trying.
Have you ever bought anything because of Board Test?
Sam: I instantly fell in love with my current board because I tested it. I thought I was happy with my old board but once I tested my Never Summer I was blown away and ordered one then and there.
What board brands should we be keeping an eye open for?
Sam: I was really impressed with Amplid, Signal and the new Never Summer boards.
What kind of boards have you tested?
Sam: I’m quite an aggressive rider so I tried to test some higher end stiffer boards. But, I did jump on a few freestyle boards and had some really good fun runs jibbing around.
What have the conditions been like this year?
Sam: We were so lucky this year. It snowed the day before the test so we had a chance to ride in powder on the Sunday. It got a bit icy on Monday and on Tuesday we were back to the usual piste conditions. So we had the opportunity to ride in almost every condition possible.
After board test where are you heading off to?
Sam: I’m hanging around in La Clusaz for a few days after the test. Then back to the 3valleys for a few days before heading to Les 2Alps. We also have friends based Les Arc, La Plagne and so I’ll be driving here there and everywhere for a few weeks. When the snow melts and season ends we are off to the beach and a summer of surfing, only back to the UK when the MOT on the van is due to run out 🙂
Thanks Sam for chatting with us. We hope you enjoy your time out here and come back to see us soon, stay safe.
Some of the Equipment Sam uses and recommends from ATBShop: Never Summer Snowboards, Union Bindings, Northwave Boots, Dakine Backpacks, Ortovox Avalance Equipment, Bern Helmets, Smith Goggles. Also Sam recommends Pleisure Holidays if you are wanting to Snowboard in the 3Valleys and not live in your van.