When I tell people that I work in the snowsports industry, they tend to say something like, “Well, you must be a good skier.”
To which I typically reply, “I’m good enough to know how many people are better than me.”
That’s the truth, because when it comes to skiing ice or gates, maintaining turn shape through a variety of conditions, or just plowing through the kind of heavy, cut-up crud you often find in the Sierras or the Pacific Northwest, I could use a lesson or two. And even though I tend to have the best time of my life on the mountain, I know there’s always work I can do.
What surprises me is how many times I’ve heard that same thing from the skiers I look up to. Like when I listened to Bode Miller talk about how much time he needed to put in on his slalom skiing—at an Olympic press conference in Whistler where he had just won a gold medal in combined! Or how I watched top freeskier Chris Davenport shift his focus to the backcountry, and dedicate himself to ski mountaineering in order to hike and ski from the summits of all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks in a single year.
Or, especially, how everyone I interviewed about making the 2012–16 PSIA-AASI Teams seemed to think their greatest accomplishment was putting themselves in an environment where they can keep learning something new. How, rather than talking about what they had just done, they all wanted to talk about what they are going to do.
PSIA Alpine Team member Jessica Simpson said she couldn’t wait to work on new ways to use innovations in ski technology to attract and retain new skiers. PSIA Adaptive Team member Geoff Krill said, “I get to keep learning,” and is looking forward to doing more with the Movement Matrix to instantly share instructional insight with PSIA-AASI members nationwide. New AASI Snowboard Team member Tony Macri is looking forward to working with more instructors—and also with more people in the industry—to strengthen existing partnerships for the benefit of everyone on snow.
And new PSIA Nordic Team member Jim Shaw just wants to turn as many people as he can onto telemark skiing, and said, “I came here because I just wanted to help out and be involved, at any level I could.”
Among all the team members I’ve talked to, I sense a wave of optimism—of opportunity—for where ski and snowboard instruction can go from here. Which I imagine is at the root of the fascination we all share for skiing and snowboarding; how the better you get, the more you realize how much else there is to know.