Snowboarding pros reflect on the closing of Whistler’s Camp of Champions

This story was originally published on SNOWBOARDER.

As you all know, the famed summer snowboard destination Camp of Champions announced its closure last week, via a letter written and posted on social media by the camp’s founder, Ken Achenbach.

Since then, comments have poured in by the hundreds, with many pledging their support for COC as well as grieving about the loss of one of snowboarding’s most iconic platforms.

Over the years, Camp of Champs has played host to some of the most prestigious pros in snowboard history long before they were professionals. Be it coaches, counselors, diggers or just weekday warrior visitors, COC groomed many a snowboarder that went on to change the landscape of professional snowboarding, so we decided to reach out and let them tell you their story, be it their experience with Camp of Champs or simply what they thought of its closure.

It’s both a sad state of affairs for the snowboard industry and a harsh reminder of the global fight we are about to endure with climate change, and we at SNOWBOARDER Magazine would like to extend our condolences to Ken Achenbach and thank him for the lasting effect that Camp of Champions will forever have on our culture.

Camp of Champions summer snowboard camp

The course set up at Camp of Champions before it was forced to close. Photo: Courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb

Craig McMorris

Camp of Champs was a very special place. I never got to go as a camper but when I started to compete I was able to get in. I learned so many tricks and met so many people there. It will be missed!

Jake Kuzyk

The first time I rode COC I snuck in. I had no sponsors and I wanted to be in the recap video so bad. I was too scared to ride around so I went straight to hiking and trying to film tricks.

It was always a really exciting thing for Canadians to be a part of. Being there at that time helped me and so many others.

Mark McMorris

Camp of Champs was sort of like a fairytale land for kids. The view, the park, and the people were top notch. It will be missed.

Camp of Champions summer snowboard camp

Mark McMorris getting jibby during a previous Camp of Champions. Photo: Courtesy of Erin Hogue

JP Walker

I used to watch some of my snowboarding heroes rip the pipe at Camp of Champions in videos and in print long before I ever set foot on the Blackcomb glacier. Back then it was just a short halfpipe tucked behind the rocks, almost seemingly to keep the snowboard hooligans out of view from the rest of the summer ski training camps. It grew lane by lane every summer and quickly became the premier spot to ride if you were anywhere in the Whistler/Vancouver area for the summer.

I worked as a full-time coach for five summers up there riding the pipe and thinking about those old VHS tapes that I bootlegged from somewhere. Guys like Marc Morisset, Sean Johnson, Noah Salasnek and Jeff Brushie. By the time I made it to camp they weren't riding up there anymore, but I still rode hard in all types of conditions. I was fueled by the stoke of emulating what I saw in just a few short minutes of fuzzy video and a rare photo or two of those riders spinning and poking in a slushy pipe. I was living my dream, snowboarding in the summer and getting paid to do it.

Hard to beat when you are a kid trying to come up in the shred game and Camp of Champions was the perfect place for me to do it.

Joe Sexton

Camp of Champions was truly a special place. Its location made it feel like you were overseas or at least very far from home. The vibe in Whistler is magnetic, everyone being so appreciative of snowboarding and sharing the same love for something. I met some of the best people there, coaches and campers alike.

Camp of Champions really cared for everyone that was there and they strived to make sure everyone had a great time. They will be missed, and it will be a very important piece of snowboard history.

Camp of Champions summer snowboard camp

Torstein Horgmo enjoying some summer hangtime at Camp of Champions. Photo: Courtesy of Erin Hogue

Torstein Horgmo

I grew up watching Crapneto religiously, dreaming of going to Whistler in the summertime. After my first summer at COC in ’08 it ended up being the one thing I looked forward to the most out of the whole year, for like five years straight. Legendary place, best camp ever. Thank you for everything, Ken.

Mikey Rencz

It's a sad one for snowboarding in general and especially Canadian snowboarding. Such a long history of good snowboarding and good times on that glacier.

Camp of Champions summer snowboard camp

Mark Sollors claims Camp of Champions was integral to his professional growth. Photo: Courtesy of Erin Hogue

Mark Sollors

Camp of Champions was huge for me. Twice as a camper then climbed the ranks from lunch boy to coach. I wouldn't be where I am or who I am if it wasn't for the past 15 summers spent at Camp of Champions.

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