Member Spotlight: Northwest Division's Nils-Erik Riise

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: Nils-Erik Riise

Age: 49
Primary discipline:
PSIA-AASI Division: Northwest

You, Your Gear, and Your Favorites

Where did you learn to ski or snowboard? Stevens Pass, Washington

What was your first ski or snowboard setup? My first set up that I remember was when I was 5. It was a pair of shiny red "Jet-Speed" wooden skis with screw on edges and nice pair of lace-up leather boots.

What is your best skiing or snowboarding memory? I have three that stand out. 1) Skiing 3 feet of blower on a blue bird subzero day down the Valle Blanche in Chamonix, France with my good friends Stan and Jojo. 2) Helicopter skiing blue bird hip deep blower in Canada with my father on my 21st birthday!!! 3) Learning to ski as little tyke at Olympic s Ski School at Stevens Pass in the seventies. It was magical to me - the snow, the mountains, and the freedom and exhilaration felt while skiing. It was awesome.

What would you say to someone to encourage them to try skiing or snowboarding? It is the most exhilarating experience for anyone at any level. After a few lessons it will become much easier than you would think. Plus, it's a sport that you can share and enjoy with your family for the rest of your life.

What are your favorite off-snow hobbies? Kite boarding, cycling, and mountain biking

PSIA-AASI and Your Snowsports Education Career

Certifications & specialties achieved: Alpine Level III, Telemark Level III, Alpine DCL, Former Telemark DCL, Past NW Tech Team Member, Children's Specialist 1, Snowboard Level I, and USSA Level 200.

Resort you work at: Stevens Pass, Washington

What inspired you to become an instructor? Do you mean Who? My father first and foremost and my good friend Stan Aunan.

Do you teach part-time or full-time? Full-time

What other profession(s) or endeavor(s) are you involved in? Owner/Operator Red Rooster Kitchen and Home – a gourmet kitchen supply store in Leavenworth, Washington.

What about your teaching style stands out? Whole to part to whole. Simple and fun.

What is you biggest accomplishment as an instructor? Becoming a Divisional Clinic Leader and having made it onto the PSIA-NW Tech Team for term 2010-2013.

What’s your favorite PSIA-AASI member benefit? Lift ticket discounts and countless opportunities to learn and improve.

Who is your favorite PSIA-AASI Official Supplier – and why?
Head Skis and Boots, Leki Ski Poles, Smith eye wear, Patagonia, Mountain Khakis, and Slingshot. All of these products function the best for my desires and expectations I have of mountain and outdoor equipment. Strong, durable, extreme high performance, they are all the best in their categories in my opinion.

What are your current skiing or riding goals? Free ski more.

What are your current teaching goals? Continue to improve my course setting skills and I want referee more races. Those are my weaknesses currently as a ski coach.

Your Advice to Instructors

What’s the best piece of advice you could offer a new instructor? Have fun, ski or ride a lot, work hard learning about every aspect of your craft and sport, study hard, be open to learning and changing, share your excitement for learning and love of the sport with others as much as you can. If you want to make a career out of ski or snowboard teaching/coaching commit to it and learn as much as you can early in your career path so you have options in the future.

What are some of your tips for teaching the following students…

Beginners: Keep the terrain you ski on flatter than you think it should be. Challenge yourself with skills and drills before tipping up the slope. Find a great coach and learn.

Intermediates: Learn what you don't know and don't know how to do. Three key words - mileage mileage, mileage.

Advanced students: Don't under estimate foot and ankle activation, learn to feel the snow and develop your understanding of how to respond to what you are feeling when you are sliding.

What advice do you have for instructors preparing for certification?

Level I: Spend a lot of time practicing teaching, learn the skills concept, and skiing.

Level II: Ski and teach a lot, begin to develop a stronger understanding of how body movements affect the skills concept and ski snow interaction, keep it simple and real, and reduce your focus on teaching canned progressions.

Level III: Ski and teach full time or as much as possible. Attend as many clinics as possible, challenge yourself constantly and realize that once you've made it here that you've just begun your journey in the world of ski teaching/coaching.

Sound off… Anything else you want to share? Love what you do and share your excitement and passion with others for mountain sports as much as possible. If you've ever skied and never taught full-time, you must do it at least one season in your life. It will be the best thing you ever do for your career and your skiing/riding/teaching abilities. Plus, it's the coolest way to make a living ever!!!

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!

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  • Member Spotlight: Northwest Division's Nils-Erik Riise


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