Eric Burr: What PSIA-AASI Means to Me

Working as a cross country ski instructor with PSIA-AASI is the pinnacle of my lifelong skiing career. I started teaching alpine in 1965, when commercial cross country lessons weren’t yet offered. Several years later when working as a snow ranger at Olympic's Hurricane Ridge, some of the other rangers wanted to improve their cross country skills so I’d teach them on my days off. I finally joined PSIA-AASI in 1983 and became a full-time cross country instructor in the 1990s.

I’d say the best part of being an instructor is getting people excited about nature and spending time outdoors. My students often ask about the forest wildlife and want to know how they can help protect these areas. Some of my most memorable experiences come from leading what we called "backcountry” (and is now called "touring") candidates out for their certification tests. We would stay overnight in the boondocks and leave with a lot of fun stories.

Being a PSIA-AASI member has introduced me to many friends. When I’m not on the snow, the magazines help me stay in touch with the wider world of skiing outside our little isolated valley. If you want to learn more, my book, Ski Trails and Wildlife: Toward Snow Country Restoration, tells a more complete story of what PSIA-AASI has done for me.


Eric Burr is a retired National Park ranger/naturalist and heli-ski guide. He is a Level III cross country instructor, and it follows naturally that turning touring skis is one of his specialties. Eric has written about his experiences skiing for magazines such as POWDER and Nordic World since the 1970s.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of 32 Degrees. Log in now to the online version to access other great content that will up your instructor game.

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