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: Geep Charlebois
Member Since: 2003
Primary discipline: Alpine
PSIA-AASI Division: Northwest, Central
You, Your Gear, and Your Favorites
When did you start skiing or riding? Second grade
What is your best skiing or snowboarding memory? Chasing a marmot all the way down the Happy Hunting Grounds at Grand Targhee in 9" of fresh powder with my younger brother. After every other turn we made, the marmot would pop up out of the snow, look at us and burrow again.
What would you say to someone to encourage them to try skiing or snowboarding? Strapping boards to your feet to slide down a hill only to do it again doesn't make sense, but it is sure a lot of fun!
What are your favorite off-snow hobbies? Hopping in the car with my sons with no plans other than to have an adventure when we stop.
PSIA-AASI and Your Snowsports Education Career
Certifications & specialties achieved: Alpine Level II
Resort you work at: Boyne Mountain, Michigan
What inspired you to become an instructor? My older brother was an instructor and my friend's parents owned the ski school.
Do you teach part-time or fulltime? Full-Time
What other profession(s) or endeavor(s) are you involved in? I was clearing glades and creating "secret slopes" on the mountain this summer.
What about your teaching style stands out? I try to infuse my lessons with humor to keep everyone interested and comfortable. I am still using one-liners that I proudly have stolen from my first PSIA event clinician, Bruno Gubetta.
What is you biggest accomplishment as an instructor? At the end of a lesson when the student is smiling and tells me that they had fun and are going to come back.
What’s your favorite PSIA-AASI member benefit? The culture of sharing information at events. There is no longer a feeling of having to keep methodology and knowledge proprietary. We are all in this together to make sure that people know how great snowsports are.
Who is your favorite PSIA-AASI Official Supplier – and why? Smith. I have a real hard time keeping track of my sunglasses.
What are your current skiing or riding goals? I plan on getting on the snow with my preteen sons more often - before they are more accomplished than me.
What are your current teaching goals? As a director, I don't get in front of the guests as often as I would like. I am hoping to average more than a lesson a week this season.
Your Advice to Instructors
What’s the best piece of advice you could offer a new instructor? When you put on your parka, you are wearing the "Jacket of Knowledge." Your students do not know that you are inexperienced. They only expect you to be able to teach them. If you find yourself stuck, improvise. That's when you become an innovator and become a good instructor.
What are some of your tips for teaching the following students…
Beginners: Keep It Fun! Adults like having fun as much as kids. Use the same games with all age groups. When introducing a "J Turn" have the turn become a fish hook. The bigger the fish, the bigger the turn back uphill. A two lb smallmouth bass requires less of a hook than at ten lb largemouth bass.
Intermediates: Listen to your intermediate students. Make sure that you know their comfort levels and what they want to accomplish. My favorite trick for getting students out of the christie and into a parallel orientation is the following. Start facing uphill in a wedge, release the wedge into a straight run, on unedged skis, turn a flat 270. As skis skid down fall line, increase edges to a hockey stop. Finish with a pole touch. Starting while faced uphill, the skier is already in the balanced, ready position. In order to complete the 270, the skier must maintain that position. The skis turning parallel at the end of the maneuver demonstrate to the student that they can make a turn without using the wedge orientation of the christie.
Advanced students: Keep moving. There is plenty of time in the lift line and on the chair to talk. A lot of advanced students that I have worked with have never thought about terrain management. Knowing how to read and approach a slope makes for faster breakthroughs. I like to take my advanced students through the easier glade areas to demonstrate and reinforce how to read the slope (brushes or gates work as well). The trees force the student to really pay attention to what is happening in front of them on the slope and to be focused several turns ahead.
What advice do you have for instructors preparing for certification?
Level I: Learn how and why the benchmarks are used in an actual lesson environment. Watch the demo videos on The Matrix. Be confident and relaxed. There is no need to rush through anything.
Level II: Know the benchmarks and how they are applied to work with students' needs. Partner, if you can, with others going for certification. Get comfortable providing and receiving feedback.
Level III: Work with a trainer to dial in your benchmark demos. Have video taken to compare with The Matrix demos. Lead clinics where you can lead your peers and provide feedback
Sound off… Anything else you want to share? One of the best places to learn how to teach is in the locker room. A staff that looks after each other and shares is often an unrecognized asset. The wealth of knowledge is immense and dynamic. There is going to be someone in there who has gone through a similar experience and will get you moving in the right direction for the next time out. I love talking to first and second year instructors after they have come in after a difficult lesson. They don't have the same amount of items in their toolbox (or bag of tricks) that I do and they have to innovate.
Connect with Geep Charlebois on Instagram: @meanwhileinotherplaces; and Twitter: @geepster5
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!