Welcome to the Member Spotlight, which 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: Richard O’Donnell
Member Since: 2017
Primary Discipline: Alpine
PSIA-AASI Division: Eastern
You, Your Gear, and Your Favorites
When Did You Start Skiing or Riding? I started skiing in the mid-1970s.
What is your best skiing or snowboarding memory? Rosie's Run at Copper Mountain in Colorado. That is one beautiful run!
What would you say to someone to encourage them to try skiing or snowboarding? As Aristotle said, "Adventure is worthwhile.”
What’s your favorite off-snow hobby? Since I live in Florida I can surf, windsurf, and fly fish all year.
PSIA-AASI and Your Snowsports Education Career
Certifications & specialties achieved: Alpine Level I
Resort you work at: WinterClub Indoor Ski & Snowboard in Orlando, Florida.
What inspired you to become an instructor? I when I saw instructors out on the snow working with their students, I thought to myself it must be the coolest job ever! What could be better than getting paid to ski!
Do you teach part-time or fulltime? Part-time
What other profession(s) or endeavor(s) are you involved in (summer & winter)? Information Technology Professional
What about your teaching style stands out? I bring a lot of enthusiasm to my classes. When a student progress, I’ll shout out 'Woohoo' to encourage them. I also go over a lot of material like how to get on and off a lift, how to fall, and how to get up and recover your gear after a fall so you can ski away safely!
What is your biggest accomplishment as an instructor? Becoming a PSIA-AASI member and getting my Alpine Level I certification while living and skiing in FLORIDA!
What’s your favorite PSIA-AASI member benefit? Training, meeting members, and discounts on gear!
Who is your favorite PSIAAASI Official Supplier - and why? Dale sweaters – get one!
What are your current skiing or riding goals? Skiing the Glacier Run at Chamonix, France.
What are your current teaching goals? Passing my Children’s Specialist 1 and Alpine Level II Exams.
Your Advice to Instructors
Beginners: French fries and pizzas are your friends.
Intermediates: Be honest with yourself and get in shape. The only thing holding you back from progressing is often the space from your neck to the top of your head. LISTEN to your instructor and practice, practice, practice!
Advanced Students: Are you having fun? If not, then you’re not doing it right. Don't try to be a perfectionist. Take what you learn and perfect it in your own way. Skiing and snowboarding is just 'falling with style'.
Level I: Be a kid again. Think back to when you started to ski. Put yourself in a beginner's shoes. Practice basic beginner stance and skiing techniques. Practice teaching a group to perform a skill, and finish the Level I workbook.
What’s the best piece of advice you could offer a new instructor? Do what you love and love what you do! Be the difference in someone’s skiing and riding!
Sound off... Anything else you want to share? I’ve been an outdoor skier for decades, and so I was excited to heard about an indoor ski and snowboard facility that opened in my area. I thought it was a neat concept, and wanted to check it out.
I visited and took a lesson with my family for a lesson, and I was truly impressed. I thought this is such a great way to learn to ski and snowboard. No heavy coats, gloves, or hats. For a family, the rental gear and lesson cost was included in the price. Better yet, you don’t have to get everyone packed and onto a plane.
I was hooked on the idea of indoor skiing after my first class, so much so that I signed up to become an instructor right away. I then called PSIA-AASI and asked about becoming a member and getting my alpine level I certification so I could be a better instructor. They checked out the facility and said YES! Woohoo!
I worked through the PSIA-AASI workbooks and practiced my first season. I was feeling more confident by my second season, and I signed up for an Alpine Level I exam and….. I PASSED! I've now worked two seasons at WinterClub Ski & Snowboard and I look forward to continuing to work as an indoor snowsports instructor and training with PSIA-AASI.
If you haven’t tried indoor snowsports, I recommend coming to Florida to check us out. The equipment is great and the facility is staffed by some of the best in the business. With Disney World and Universal Studios nearby, now Indoor Skiing and Snowboarding is one more reason to visit Florida! If you’re interested, you can check out winterclubski.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!