Burton Snowboards has been a pioneer in growing the reach of snowboarding around the globe and enhancing participants experience. Over the past several years they have been building an increase in attention to the younger attention with their Learn To Ride Centers that are popping up all over the globe. This year Burton and Valle Nevado teamed up to build the first Learn To Ride center in South America. We caught up with Valle Nevado’s head of international PR Kristina Schreck to learn more about the project.
How did the relationship between Burton and Valle Nevado come about?
Valle Nevado and Burton have a long history of working together, and even owner/founder Jake Burton stays at Valle Nevado occasionally. The resort also has an on-site Burton store. Burton has been growing its Learn To Ride program all over the US, and they had been looking for a good partner in South America. With Valle Nevado’s newly expanded terrain park and new kids & adults learning center built as part of the gondola project this year, the resort is a perfect fit. Valle Nevado also replaced much of its snowboard rental gear this year with hundreds of pairs of Burton boards and bindings.
Why did you decide to incorporate the Learn To Ride facility into your ski school program?
The Learn to Ride program is innovative in that it removes a lot of the pain of learning to ride a snowboard. If kids and adults have fun while learning to ride, then the chances are higher that they will get excited about the sport and return to keep improving and having fun. Burton has reported that they now see retention rates of new snowboarders having grown by 30 to 50% (depending on the resort).
One of the key elements of the LTR program is Burton’s new snowboard technology for beginners, with boards that are specially beveled to help avoid those kind of hard falls that typically come with learning to ride. Kids’ boards have a tow line so that instructors can maneuver kids and help them learn technique quickly.
What type of individual do you think will be able to benefit most from this program?
The program is very much directed towards kids with “Riglet Park,” a fun learning park for kids with a space-exploration theme. However the program is also for adults who have wanted to learn to snowboard for a long time but are afraid of getting hurt or of spending an entire day wobbling atop a slippery board.
It seems over the last few years Valle Nevado has done a big effort to grow snowboarding at Valle Nevado through expansion of it’s terrain parks and hosting a variety of local and international events, what has been the biggest motivation for this?
Valle Nevado is undergoing a $150 million Master Development Plan to grow the resort into a complete mountain village and fully establish itself as South America’s premiere resort. Given the vast amount of terrain, the most modern lift system in Chile, and plenty of lodging, dining, and entertainment options, Valle Nevado is not only the logical venue for major competitions and events, it is also ideal for ski and snowboard teams that head south to train. This year, Valle Nevado welcomes a new gondola, learning center with a new Magic Carpet lift for beginners, and a full-service Day Visitor Center with shops, rentals, lift ticket office and ski / snowboard school sign-up.
Where do you see the relationship with Burton down the road?
We hope to continue to strengthen our ties with Burton, and would like to invite the Burton team to visit Valle to film and shoot photography for their marketing purposes.