Meet Coach Graham Pollock!
When did you start skiing?
I started skiing at the age of 4 at Osler Bluff Ski Club. It’s a ski club outside of Collingwood, Ontario that my Grandpa became a member of in the 1950’s. The park was pretty small, but it was super fun and the skiing is pretty dead all the time so it is actually incredible by Ontario standards. I don’t go back often, but when I do I love to spin at least a couple laps there. It’s home, so it has a very special place in my heart.
I honestly didn’t even like skiing as a kid. I thought the idea of consciously opting to be cold was ridiculous, so I wasn’t a big fan. It wasn’t until my brother decided to join the freestyle club and I saw that hitting jumps was a viable option that I actually started liking skiing. Once that happened, I immediately fell in love and never looked back. We moved up to Collingwood, actually Nottawa, a small hamlet close by when I was 10, and that’s where everything really took off. I went from being a sometimes weekend warrior to skiing every weekend at Osler and every night at Blue Mountain—big shout out to my Mom for getting me and my brother there every single day.
When did you start Freestyle?
I joined the Freestyle Program at that time, and it became my all-encompassing identity. Growing up in Freestyle in the early 00s was awesome because the sport was in its relative infancy but quickly gaining traction. Still, we participated in everything. The team was mogul-centric, but we had big air events after the mogul events, usually requiring us to ski until it was dark and always hiking a super sketchy air site. Between those and the Wednesday night park and pipe comps at night, that’s where I showed my passion. I was never great at moguls but decent at jumps, so when I was 15/16, and they developed an Ontario Park Team, I jumped on the idea. Some of my teammates were Ahren Stein, Sandy Boville, Jamieson Irvine and Evan McEachran. I was never the greatest athlete in training and got decent results, but I just wanted to ski for the soul.
Where did you go next?
When I graduated high school, I moved to Mammoth Mountain and spent my gap year there. I spent 150 days on skis and had the best time of my life. The following year I decided to go to UBC Okanagan, where I got sucked into the University lifestyle, and my skiing got put on the back burner. In my second year of Uni, I felt this was unacceptable, and the only way to get to the hill was to pursue coaching. I got a job at Silverstar just as a means to ski more, but I soon realized that I loved it more than anything. Getting a group of 8 little groms that loved skiing as much as I did and were hungry to learn was fun and rewarding. Their excitement when they learned a new trick, overcoming their nerves at the start gate, and growing as little humans were the best job a guy could ask for. After University, I was looking for the next step, which brought me to be the Head Coach for the Yukon Freestyle Team. I loved my time there and learned a ton, but the Yukon lifestyle was not really for me, so I took a job in Whistler coaching their High-Performance Program, and that’s where I was the past 5 seasons. In Whistler, I honed my coaching skills and realized this was an actual career I wanted to pursue. Coaching high-level athletes that push the sport on and off the hill is a different dimension and exactly where I wanted to be.
What got you into coaching?
I learned a ton from my predecessor Mike Apps, and I could not have had a better role model in the coaching industry. Working alongside him helped me become better and challenged me since our athletes often went head to head. Big thanks to Mike for everything he built here with BC Freestyle, and I still pick his brain from time to time on how to give my athletes the best chance at success.
I hear you’re taking some school currently, tell me more about that.
A year ago, I began my Master’s in High-Performance Coaching and Technical Leadership at UBC. It is helping me take my coaching to the next level and work alongside some of the best coaches in the industry in a wide array of sports. I know that my athletes got a massive benefit from my learnings last season, and I am looking forward to utilizing the skills I learn more in the coming seasons with BC Freestyle.
This is going to be the best season yet for BC Freestyle. In the past few seasons, we have been the strongest province in Park and Pipe by a long shot, and I know this will continue this year. The work ethic and motivation of the current are unmatched by anything I have seen in the sport. We are still in our summer training phase with Momentum and Mount Hood camps complete. We are off to Maximise at the end of the month, followed by a three-week trip to New Zealand. After that, we have a little bit of downtime before our heavy competition season begins. I am excited to see what these athletes have in store, but they have already impressed me a ton, and I am proud of them.
What is your coaching philosophy?
My coaching philosophy is based on 4 tenets—passion for the sport, connection with athletes, accessibility to resources, and leading by example.
With the team that I have and the support of BC Freestyle, it has been relatively simple to follow and further develop my coaching philosophy. The drive and dedication of all the athletes allow me to stay passionate about what we are doing and ensure that each training day is effective and a really good time. Working in and around the province for the past 12 ski seasons, I have worked previously with almost all the current athletes on the team in some capacity, so connecting with them has been quite streamlined. With BC Freestyles’ help, I have offered the athletes more accessibility to resources than ever. We are travelling to new and exciting places, taking advantage of trampoline training at Airhouse in Squamish, and Kelowna, water ramp training in Whistler, progression airbags, and various summer and fall locations. On top of that, we have a fully developed workout program at CSI Pacific in Whistler while also getting access to Mental performance training and nutrition education. With all this help, these athletes will be able to achieve their full potential this upcoming season.
OK, here is an easy one to finish… What is your favourite food?
See, the actual question is, What is the BEST food? The answer is pizza. Anything else is incorrect.