Founded eleven years ago, Evolve Chile has been providing a summer shred/surf outlet for teens ages 13-18 while giving them a chance to travel and explore a culture that is about as far from their local mountain’s as you can get. Boasting coaches that teach at three different ski and snowboard locations in Chile, including Valle Nevado, La Parva, El Colorado, and Termas de Chillan, Evolve’s founders have built the program and are now expanding its offerings to include a women’s program and a surf session. We caught up with Camp Director Daniel Rinzler to get the scoop behind Evolve, the local Chilean snowboard scene, adding adult programs to the mix, and his expectations for this summer.
Tell us a little about the history of Evolve Chile and the people behind it?
The idea behind Evolve Chile started in early 2000. Jeff and I had been shredding snow and waves in Chile since the late 90s. In 2005 while we were on a Heli ride in Portillo we realized that there were no summer camp operations happening in Chile. We developed some strategic partnerships with two resorts, partnered with our friend Ruben in Termas, and the rest was history. Jeff Richmond is one of the main owners and directors of the camp. Jeff is a world traveler with a strong addiction to powder. You can be sure to find him in the backcountry of Chile and British Columbia.
How are things looking for this summer? I understand the volcano’s eruption have put schedules on hold for a number of resorts?
Luckily the Puyehue volcano eruption has not really affected camp thus far. I think as a whole the season in South America started a little bit later then usual and that’s probably because of the eruption. Argentina is being hit the worst right now.
How are bookings trending this year?
This year was a lot better than last. Last year’s volcano eruption scared many of our North American campers away. Although none of the mountains were affected, a few people stayed away for added safety. This year, our numbers have doubled and we have also had a strong year with girl riders . The female market is always a tough one to go after.
Tell us a little about your marketing plan and how you differentiate yourselves for riders and their parents’ dollars?
Our biggest selling point is riding powder with pros in the summer in the southern hemisphere, surfing , and getting exposure to new culture. There are some awesome camps out there, but our product mix is unbeatable. Kids get to learn Spanish, shred three different resorts (Valle Nevado, El Colorado, La Parva) tour around Santiago, Viñas del Mar and Val Paraiso. On top of all the variety we have a surf camp in Viñas where we work with one of the top schools in the country.
While most camps run their programs at one resort, you guys take campers to different mountains. What are the pros and cons of doing this?
We used to take them to four Mountains but now we are partnered with Valle Nevado, which is North of Santiago. Valle is interconnected with La Parva and El Colorado which is an added bonus for campers. In years past, campers had to buy other passes to access the other terrain but in 2011 we are including a multi-mountain pass which allows our coaches to take kids on [different] types of terrain. There really isn’t any cons to doing this because everyone needs variety. Valle Nevado has diverse terrain coupled with the best park in South America, El Colorado has bad ass steep terrain for pow days, and La Parva has fun super long runs with natural features for campers to play around with.
How has the local snowboard scene changed since you started doing camps in Chile?
I think that over the past five years the scene has changed quite a bit in Chile. Every year we are bringing more and more well known pro’s who are spreading the word about Evolve Chile and Chile as a whole. The biggest change we have seen is that more and more pro’s are coming to film in Chile and making guest appearances at camp. Last year was pretty big having Travis [Rice’s] crew filming for The Art of Flight. We have also seen the snowboard scene grow. For many years skiing was the dominant sport in Chile. Valle Nevado’s has also helped us out quite a bit. This year a new and improved park will be featured along with a new camper compound which will feature a mini ramp, ping pong tables, TVs with video games and areas for campers to chill after each session. We are also working with Valle on having a pipe for athletes to train in next summer for the upcoming winter Olympics in Socchi.
You mainly focus on riders aged 13-18 but also host an adult Signature Session. What are the biggest differences in catering to those two groups?
The biggest difference between the two is that on the adult Signature Session “campers” can sign a waiver, go heli riding along with hiking the backcountry. They also get to enjoy the crazy night life down in Farellones.
What benefits do you offer sponsors you work with such as Lib, Dakine and Sessions?
Our sponsors have really been hooking us up over the past few years. We offer our sponsors a chance to expose the brand to the fast growing South American market. Our campers, coaches, and brand really influence the Chilean market. We usually have athletes from all the brands who sponsor us and this is huge for them because they get the unique content to keep them going through the summer.
Three predictions for the Southern Hemisphere season?
– Lots of dry fluffly snow
– Bluebird after every storm
– Empanadas for everybody
Anything else you’d like to throw out there?
If you have the time and money to come explore the Southern Hemisphere then Evolve Chile is where it’s at. If you need any advice on shredding down south hit us up and we would be stoked to help you out. Also, make sure you “like” Evolve Chile on Facebook.