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: Ciara Cooper
Primary discipline: Alpine
You, Your Gear, and Your Favorites
How long have you been sliding on snow? 12 years
Where did you learn to ski or snowboard? Brandwine Ski Resort, Ohio
What is your best skiing or snowboarding memory? Well, when I was just learning I was four. My mom was teaching me, and I had the technical skill to do any hill. She took me up a hill at Peak 'n Peak and I was terrified. I sat at the top of the hill for a solid twenty minutes, crying. My mom isn't the kind of person to tolerate crying, so she stood me up and pushed me down the hill. Needless to say, the next time, I raced her down.
What would you say to someone to encourage them to try skiing or snowboarding? Have you ever imagined flying? Well, skiing is just like that, but on the snow.
What’s your favorite ski resort or area (aside from your own)? Peak 'N Peak in New York
What’s your all-time favorite run or trail? I absolutely love Shredder at Brandywine
What equipment are you skiing or riding on? I have a pair of Cosmic Octopus skis by J Skis with Marker Squire bindings and Salomon W70 boots. I don't own poles, but I use my mom's Scott poles every so often.
Camber, rocker, flat, or hybrid? Rocker. Definitely rocker.
Describe your first ski or snowboard setup. It’s what I have now. These skis are the first pair of skis that I've ever owned.
What’s the one ski or snowboard accessory you can’t live without? My goggles. I believe that the first thing a skier or snowboarder should buy, even before their equipment, is a pair of goggles.
What’s your favorite ski or snowboard movie? I’m watching a lot of helicopter skiing videos. I just love how they are dropped on a mountain somewhere to ski.
What are your favorite off-snow hobbies? I love roller derby
What’s your favorite summer destination (or one you’re dying to get to)? I would love to visit Switzerland.
What’s the last book you read, or a podcast you’re currently into? The last book I read was A Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah J Maas
PSIA-AASI and Your Snowsports Education Career
PSIA-AASI Division: Central
Certifications & specialties achieved: Alpine Level I
Resort you work at: Brandywine Ski Resort
How long have you been instructing? This is my first year
How long have you been a PSIA-AASI member? I signed up about a week ago
What inspired you to become an instructor? Well, when I was six I told my mom that I wanted to be an instructor. Now that I am one, what inspires me is seeing people fall in love with skiing.
Do you teach part-time or fulltime? Part-time
What other profession(s) or endeavor(s) are you involved in? I am currently a fulltime student.
What about your teaching style stands out? I like to teach each person in a way that will benefit them. Even in a large group, I try my best to personalize the lesson. This way, each person learns something and improves.
What is your favorite age group to teach and why? I love to teach high school- and college-aged people.
What’s your favorite PSIA-AASI member benefit? My favorite benefit would be the fact that when I go to college I will be able to prove that I already know how to teach.
Who is your favorite PSIA-AASI Official Supplier – and why? My favorite supplier is definitely Marker. The reps are very nice and, in general, it is a great brand.
Is there a brand, supplier, or industry organization you would like PSIA-AASI to work with? I would love to see PSIA work with Jason Leventhal and his brand, J Skis. I love his skis and think that others will as well.
What are your skiing or riding goals for this season? My skiing goal is to perfect riding backwards down the harder slopes.
What are your teaching goals for this season? My goal for this season is to teach at least 50 hours. If I can teach that many people how to ski and if they fall in love with the sport, then my job is done.
If you could leave any legacy behind in the snowsports industry, what would it be? If I could leave behind any legacy, I would hope to have showed that any sized person can be a great skier. I have been told many times that I would never be a great skier because of my weight. I want to prove that anyone can be a great skier.
If there was one thing you could accomplish as an instructor, what would it be? If I could, I would love to teach race classes. I used to take them and I loved them. However, where I'm at they don't run them anymore.
What’s the best piece of advice you could offer a new instructor? Keep calm and make the lesson fun.
What’s one thing an instructor should never do or be? An instructor should never force a student to do something. If the student is scared, don't force them to do it.
Describe a scenario where you had to teach a difficult lesson and how you handled it: For one of the lessons I had, the kids just would not listen to me. One of the kids knew me and knew that I was only two years older than them, and they just didn't want to listen. What I did was take them to a hill that they had the technical skill for, but they weren't mentally prepared for it. When they saw me start to go down the hill without waiting for them, they panicked and decided that listening to me was a smart idea.
Who has had the most positive influence on you and your career as an instructor? The people who have had the most influence on my career as an instructor would have to be my mom (pictured here), for teaching me how to ski, and my teacher, Ms. Annette Lang, for pushing me to be my best. Ms. Lang has been teaching me for the past two years how to be a good instructor.
Your Advice to Instructors
What’s your advice for teaching…
Beginners: Beginners love to be able to relate what they're learning to something else they already know how to do. Make it fun and make it relatable.
Intermediates: Intermediates just want to have fun. Teach them how to do the cool stuff, like hockey stops, in order to get them to go into a parallel turn.
Advanced students: Just ride with them. At this point, they know how to ski so just get some mileage on them. Have fun, teach them some freestyle, and be the cool instructor.
What advice do you have for instructors preparing for certification?
Level I: Be calm. This is the easiest level to pass.
Sound off… Anything else you want to share? I love skiing a lot. This is something that I want to be doing for the rest of my life. Even though people don't believe that I can ski, I really enjoy being out on the snow.
Connect with Ciara on Facebook: facebook.com/CiaraCooperSki; Instagram: @IAmThePoptart18; or on the web at: Ciaracooperski.vistaprintdigital.com
Want to see yourself in our next "Member Spotlight?" Fill out this questionnaire for a chance to be featured across our social media platforms, the eNewsletter, and our website. You could even make it into 32 Degrees!