Lennon's tools more closely resemble those used in skiing than snowboarding. For starters, students are given ski poles to help them balance.
Lennon: When I first tried to learn snowboarding, I was spending so much time in the snow that I thought if I could maximize my time standing, Id get better faster. I knew from World Cup coaching that the poles are as important as the skis — they realign your balance and give you a check point, a read on the slope. The first time I tried snowboarding with poles, Patrick Dolan [a snowboarding instructor and currently Lennon's special assistant] tried to take them away. He said they'd lead to all kinds of bad habits. But I used them anyway, just so I could get my butt around the hill. And I discovered that when I planted the pole, I could pivot and nurse my way into a turn a little better. Poles became integral.
Postcard from Vail
Nicholas Rose, 16, a junior in high school.
This guy Boone just put poles in my hand. I hope none of my friends see me. Snowboarding with poles? Way uncool. You gotta see these old dudes poling around on snowboards. Its a total riot.
Id never tell my buds, but the poles really do help me carve. Dad too. He's taking the camp with me, and he was totally shaky on the first day. They put him in the loser group with all the other geeks. But now, on the second day, Dads jammin'. Great. These ancient dudes are getting good enough to ride my favorite trails. Don't they know they're history? When are they gonna grow up?
A version of this article appeared in the Dec 1996/Jan 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.