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: Audra Schmidt
Primary discipline: Alpine
PSIA-AASI Division: Rocky Mountain
You, Your Gear, and Your Favorites
When did you start skiing or riding? When I was 3
What is your best skiing or snowboarding memory? Kayaking across Laguna Inca in Portillo, Chile, and skinning up and skiing the Four Fingers
What would you say to someone to encourage them to try skiing or snowboarding? Skiing, snowboarding, and all snowsports give humans the freedom to experience and be a part of the mountains in a way that is singular to winter sports. I couldn't imagine how much smaller the world would be had I never learned to ski...
What are your favorite off-snow hobbies? Making a running list of all the people I want to love and things I want to do... it's infinite
PSIA-AASI and Your Snowsports Education Career
Certifications & specialties achieved: Alpine Level III, Children’s Specialist 2
Resorts you work at: Aspen Snowmass and Ski Portillo
What inspired you to become an instructor? Teaching gave me access to the mountains at an early age and an affordable lifestyle.
Do you teach part-time or fulltime? Fulltime
What other profession(s) or endeavor(s) are you involved in? School teacher, licensed in Colorado and Idaho; following my dreams
What about your teaching style stands out? Creating a comfort zone so that we can push our comfort zone. I know how to make someone feel safe and comfortable so that they're confident, which then allows them to push their limits and grow.
What is you biggest accomplishment as an instructor? Raising skiers from 3 to their teens who have become more confident and experienced as big mountain skiers than I am!
What’s your favorite PSIA-AASI member benefit? Affordable gear and continuous opportunities to learn and develop as athletes, as well
Who is your favorite PSIA-AASI Official Supplier – and why? Smith; born and raised in Idaho, so it's a potato thing
What are your current skiing or riding goals? Develop off-piste and out-of-bounds skiing (i.e., going up so I can go down, including down, through, and off natural features)... Being able to access even the most isolated terrain
What are your current teaching goals? Developing my sense of presence in extreme terrain, so that I can guide clients through safely and with a "thriving" mentality versus "surviving”
Your Advice to Instructors
What’s the best piece of advice you could offer a new instructor? Follow the best skiers and instructors around (hint: they're not always the loudest).
What’s are some of your tips for teaching the following students…
Beginners: Goal #1: Learn to enjoy and be part of the environment
Intermediates: Allow time to explore and play with new movements or skills, including time to make mistakes. This allows ownership and autonomy in an organic way.
Advanced students: Advanced skiers do better with "sync-ing" an expert skier/the instructor than with following their tracks (unless intentionally prescribed). Allowing a client to synchronize ski with you develops natural flow down the fall line and the ability to access movement patterns without trying to think about too many things at once; it proves to be a cool way to create autonomy within high-level skiing.
What advice do you have for instructors preparing for certification?
Level I: Watch, observe, and pay attention to experienced instructors who are teaching beginner and intermediate lessons.
Level II: Ski with the best skiers, a lot! Create a map/plan of how you want to train for and pass the Level II exam; this allows for realistic goal-setting versus shooting for the moon in one shot.
Level III: Collaborate with peers who are also training for their Level III, and take advantage of eager peers who are working toward becoming trainers and examiners. I couldn't have passed without doing both.
Sound off… Anything else you want to share? Ski instructing, for me, is about loving people, loving to ski, and loving to share skiing with people.
Connect with Audra on Instagram: @audralynnlove; Twitter: @audralynnlove
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!