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: Tad Sheldon
Member Since: 2016
Primary discipline: Alpine
PSIA-AASI Division: Western
You, Your Gear, and Your Favorites
When did you start skiing or riding? My earliest memory of being on skis was when I was seven years old. I had a terrible time with the rope tow, and instead decided it was easier to walk up the hill and put my skis on at the top.
What is your best skiing or snowboarding memory? My wife and I were skiing Winter Park in Colorado when we cut through some dense trees and found ourselves at the top of a glade with untracked powder. It was my first time in real powder, and I could not get enough of it.
What would you say to someone to encourage them to try skiing or snowboarding? I know of no other sport where you can have fun with friends while getting a good outdoor workout in winter. It's beautiful and sooooo much fun!
What are your favorite off-snow hobbies? Hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, and photography
PSIA-AASI and Your Snowsports Education Career
Certifications & specialties achieved: Alpine Level II and Adaptive Level I
Resort you work at: Northstar at California
What inspired you to become an instructor? My wife is four years away from earning her 50-year pin. She has been full cert since she was 19, and has always been so passionate about the sport. After I retired from my Silicon Valley high-tech job, I was looking for something to do and instructing seemed like the only thing to do.
Do you teach part-time or full-time? Full-time
What other profession(s) or endeavor(s) are you involved in? I drive for the Seniors Program in my home town. I also try to mentor former colleagues in the high-tech industry. But mostly I enjoy spending time with my family when we are all together in the Lake Tahoe area.
What about your teaching style stands out? I am empathetic towards my students. The need for empathy was driven home as I learned a new sport this summer, mountain biking. It can be a pretty terrifying sport for those who are just starting out. It reinforced for me that there are many students out there who view skiing the same way. So, if I can get them to have a breakthrough with more confidence, it means the world to me.
What is you biggest accomplishment as an instructor? My favorite student is a young autistic boy. Getting him to drop the edgy-wedgy and do a wedge turn down a blue run topped my season last year.
What’s your favorite PSIA-AASI member benefit? The great training I've received, as well as the great pro discounts.
Who is your favorite PSIA-AASI Official Supplier – and why? I really don't have one supplier, but I have more Blizzard skis than anything else. I like how they roll.
What are your current skiing or riding goals? I never had the opportunity to ski for a full season until I retired three years ago, so my journey of understanding what good skiing means has really only begun. I plan to get another certification this season, but I have not decided which way to go yet. There are so many opportunities!
What are your current teaching goals? I would like to focus on getting more women skiing so they can ski with their loved ones and really enjoy this sport.
Your Advice to Instructors
What’s the best piece of advice you could offer a new instructor? Three things: 1) Study the teaching progressions in the PSIA-AASI manuals, they are tried and true. 2) Put yourself in your student's shoes and be empathetic, don't be impatient. 3) Take advantage of the training resources your ski and snowboard school offers and listen to those who have more experience than you.
What are some of your tips for teaching the following students...
Beginners: Have fun.
Intermediates: Have fun.
Advanced students: Have fun.
What advice do you have for instructors preparing for certification?
Level I: Study the progressions, practice your demonstrations, and be coach-able.
Level II: When doing your teaching demonstration, focus on only ONE skill. Don't skip from rotation to edging to pressure.
Level III: If I pass, I'll let you know.
Connect with Tad Sheldon on Facebook: Tad Sheldon and on Instagram: @oldtadpole
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!