Welcome to the Member Spotlight, an online feature on TheSnowPros.org that gives well-deserved shine to some of the incredibly skillful and devoted ski and snowboard instructors who make up PSIA-AASI. Whether instruction is a full-time career or a part-time pursuit balanced with other endeavors, PSIA-AASI members have valuable insights to share gleaned from their experiences on snow.
Enjoy getting to know your colleagues from far and wide who share your passion for teaching skiing and riding! (And fill out this questionnaire for the chance to share YOUR story and insights in Member Spotlight.)
Name: Megan Holthaus
Primary discipline: Snowboard
You, Your Gear, and Your Favorites
How long have you been sliding on snow? Skiing for 25 years; snowboarding for 15 years
Where did you learn to ski or snowboard? Perfect North Slopes, Indiana
What is your best skiing or snowboarding memory? This has been my favorite thing to do since I was 2 or 3 years old, so it's hard to pick just one memory. Visiting friends in Breckenridge, father/daughter trips to Snow Shoe, family vacations to Colorado when I was younger, instructor trips to Seven Springs, backyard shred sessions with my friends... all of the memories I've made on any snow-covered hill or mountain with my family and friends are irreplaceable!
What would you say to someone to encourage them to try skiing or snowboarding? Deciding to ski or snowboard is one of the best decisions you can make! It might be frustrating in the beginning, but if you don't give up it will change your life. This community of skiers and snowboarders is so much fun to join, and you won't find better group of friends anywhere else. Plus, what else is there to do in the winter in the
I try to take advantage of Perfect North's employee guest passes to get as many friends as possible skiing or snowboarding for the first time. Usually if they try it once, they're hooked for life.
What’s your favorite ski resort or area (aside from your own)? Breckenridge, Colorado
What’s your all-time favorite run or trail? Imperial Bowl
What equipment are you skiing or riding on?
Board: Ride Compact 143
Bindings: Ride DVA
Boots: Ride Mode
Bindings: Salomon L10
Boots: Salomon Quest Access 70W
Camber, rocker, flat, or hybrid? Rocker
Snowboarders, what’s your stance width and angles: 22.5" & 9, -9
Describe your first ski or snowboard setup. I got a Lamar board and Lamar bindings for Christmas one year and was instantly hooked after the first few days riding that winter!
What’s the one ski or snowboard accessory you can’t live without? The Grom Grab (for teaching) and a good play list on my iPod (for riding)
What’s your favorite ski or snowboard movie? Out Cold
What are your favorite off-snow hobbies? Rock climbing and camping
What’s your favorite summer destination (or one you’re dying to get to)? Costa Rica and the Red River Gorge
What’s the last book you read, or a podcast you’re currently into? If I'm answering honestly, the last book I read was the PSIA Alpine Technical Manual (haha).
PSIA-AASI and Your Snowsports Education Career
PSIA-AASI Division: Central
Certifications & specialties achieved:
Snow Sports School Manager
Adult snowboard instructor (Snowboard Level I)
Adult Ski Instructor (Alpine Level I)
Children’s ski instructor
Children’s snowboard instructor
Resort you work at: Perfect North Slopes
How long have you been instructing? 10 Years
How long have you been a PSIA-AASI member? 2 seasons
What inspired you to become an instructor? Both of my parents and my three older sisters were all instructors, so by default instructing has always been a big part of my life. When I was finally old enough to join the team and start working with the community that I grew up in, I couldn't wait! The main reason I wanted to get involved from the beginning and the reason I continue to love this job is the people I get to work with every day.
Do you teach part-time or fulltime? Fulltime
What other profession(s) or endeavor(s) are you involved in? I work at Perfect North Slopes year round. During our winter season I manage the Snow Sports School and try to ensure that everyone has a fun and safe day on the slopes. In the off season I help our team with various jobs around the hill, such as getting ready for our Mud Stash, painting, tuning rental equipment, cutting grass, etc.
When I'm off work, I like to volunteer for the Muscular Dystrophy Association for their annual summer camp for kids with neuromuscular diseases. It's great to be a part of the best week of the year for those kids every summer!
What about your teaching style stands out? The ability to adapt each lesson for the student(s) I'm teaching. I try to change my style each lesson to keep it fun for whoever I'm teaching and to be flexible for my students so the lesson works for their individual personality.
What is your favorite age group to teach and why? Teaching all ages is fun, but I enjoy teaching kids the most. It's rewarding to see how excited they get when they make their first pizzas and first turns during a lesson, and to see how proud their parents are when they come down the hill with smiles on their faces. It's even better to see the kids come back year after year and ask you to ski or ride with them again.
What is you biggest accomplishment as an instructor? I love seeing students that I've taught over the years become really passionate about snowboarding or skiing. One of the snowboarders I taught a few years ago is now a children’s snowboard instructor here, and I'm really excited that he wants to pass on his passion for the sport.
What’s your favorite PSIA-AASI member benefit? The knowledge that PSIA-AASI provides through the exams, clinics, ed staff, manuals, and magazines is invaluable!
Who is your favorite PSIA-AASI Official Supplier – and why? Patagonia – I love that I can use their gear for snowboarding and skiing in the winter, and for rock climbing the rest of the year.
Is there a brand, supplier, or industry organization you would like PSIA-AASI to work with? It would be great to have PSIA-AASI team up with REI if possible.
What are your skiing or riding goals for this season?
Skiing: I'm working on improving my stance on steeper terrain; constantly reminding myself to keep my weight forward and to flex my joints more throughout the turns.
Snowboarding: I'm working on reverse carves and toe-to-toe turns while free riding, and urban rails and 360s in the park.
What are your teaching goals for this season? This season my teaching goal was to get my PSIA Level I certification, which we just did last weekend. Now I'm working on getting ready to take the AASI Level II exam next season.
If you could leave any legacy behind in the snowsports industry, what would it be? Enthusiasm for creating new skiers and boarders and enthusiasm for skiing and snowboarding in general!
If there was one thing you could accomplish as an instructor, what would it be? Sharing the passion of winter with as many people as possible! I try to create lifetime winter athletes every time I teach a lesson by keeping it fun and exciting for the students.
What’s the best piece of advice you could offer a new instructor? Take advantage of the group of instructors you're now a part of. Participate in free clinics for instructors to improve your riding/skiing, shadow seasoned instructors to learn some of their tricks they use in lessons, and get to know one another so you have more friends for off-season hobbies (kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, hiking, camping, etc.).
What’s one thing an instructor should never do or be? Don't be boring and don't lecture the students.
Describe a scenario where you had to teach a difficult lesson and how you handled it: had a lesson with a younger child with Asperger's, and he was having a hard time focusing on the lesson with all of the other people on the beginner hill. To keep his attention on where he was going, I took off my board and ran in front of him yelling and waving my hands around to keep his attention on me. I probably looked like a lunatic, but it worked and he was linking turns in no time!
Who has had the most positive influence on you and your career as an instructor? My dad and I are extremely competitive with each other, which has made me want to get better each day so I can keep up with him. He's really supportive and pushes me to get better at my job every day.
Your Advice to Instructors
What’s your advice for teaching…
Beginners: Try to be creative so you don't get burnt out in teaching beginners all season. Learn to incorporate a little freestyle into these lessons – such as ollies, nollies, presses, and flat spins. It breaks up the frustrating parts of learning to turn for the students and gives them something to show off to their friends later in the day.
Intermediates: Find out what they would like to learn in the lesson, build off what they already know, and make it fun! They're probably excited to finally be on chairlifts and steeper terrain, so help build their confidence by praising each accomplishment.
Advanced students: Find out what they would like to learn in the lesson and customize it so it's fun! Don't just teach what you like teaching, unless that's what they want to learn.
What advice do you have for instructors preparing for certification?
Level I: Clinic with Level II- or Level III-certified Instructors as much as possible. During the exam, relax and have fun; if you prepared ahead of time you will be fine!
Level II: Clinic with Level III-certified Instructors as much as possible!
Level III: Clinic with Level III-certified Instructors as much as possible!
Connect with Megan on Instagram: @megan_the_dragon
Want to see yourself in our next "Member Spotlight?" Fill out this questionnaire for a chance to get featured across our social media platforms, the eNewsletter, and our website. You could even make it into 32 Degrees!