National Academy Day 5: Experiential Volkswagen, Great Rum + Snow Withdrawal

As the final day of National Academy, Rider Rally, and Telemark Academy begins, spirits are high thanks to blue sky weather and the opportunity to put a strong finish on an incredible week of riding and learning.

Thursday certainly produced several memorable moments as, among other accomplishments, PSIA-AASI Team Manager Jeb Boyd led a group into the North Summit Snowfields, and Alpine Team member Eric Lipton led a group into the iconic Big Couloir.

“It was a total high,” Boyd said of his group’s descent down exposed open funnels of windswept powder. “To see them get up for that was exciting for our whole group. Everyone had so much fun that I was even more excited just to be skiing with them.”

Down in the valley, PSIA-AASI’s Official Suppliers upped the après game with product giveaways, free beer, and good music that had attendees dancing in their ski boots until the sun went down.

Here are few more highlights as ski and snowboard instruction’s best event of the year winds down.

Getting Experiential with Volkswagen
PSIA-AASI Official Automotive Partner Volkswagen took over the Big Sky Plaza for the second season in a row, offering hot waffles, interactive games, a raffle, and the chance to check out some of the brand’s 4Motion AWD vehicles such as the roomy Atlas and sporty Tiguan.

According to Volkswagen Experiential Marketing Specialist Jon Jafari, “The experiential approach is all about getting our vehicles in front of consumers. This is key to how we build relationships with people and give them an opportunity to sit down inside our vehicles and make up their own minds.”

He added that working with PSIA-AASI members, who actively advocate to the snowsports world, provides an essential link to the mountain resorts and outdoor-minded consumers that Volkswagen thinks will be most attracted to their 4Motion offerings.

Cocktail Clinic
In an entirely new National Academy offering, Mount Gay Rum, PSIA-AASI’s Official Spirit Supplier, offered an overview of the brand, as well as a quick clinic on how to make a very tasty Rum Old Fashioned.

National Brand Manager Dominic Alling provided a brief history of Mount Gay, which is the world’s oldest commercial rum distillery, and has been making rum in Barbados since 1703. Attendees got to sip samplers of Mount Gay’s Eclipse (aged 2-5 years, and recommended for cocktails), Black Barrel (aged 7 years, and perfect for sipping), and XO, for ‘extra old’ (aged 15 years, with a rich, oaky taste and smooth finish).

Alling’s Old Fashioned recipe included an orange slice gently muddled with sugar and Angostura Aromatic Bitters, mixed with an ounce of Eclipse and ice, perfect for finishing a day of riding on the deck in the sun.

Does the Fun Have to End?
After such an action-packed season, which saw the release of the new Teaching Snowsports Manual, the PSIA-AASI Team’s bar-raising Interski 2019 presentation of The Learning Connection, and now the completion of a successful end-of-season event for all disciplines, it’s hard to believe that the season is coming to an end.

Some snow pros might be forgiven for anticipating a bit of withdrawal as the snow start to melt and the lifts shut down.

“I am going to miss the energy and excitement of this event, as well as the exploration,” said PSIA Alpine Team member Brenna Kelleher, who is a Big Sky local. “It’s going to be hard watching everyone start to go home.”

Kelleher did add, that after a seminal season with the team, including a pinpoint focus on creating some incredibly polished Interski presentations, she is going to have “Some really fun takeaways that I am going to remember for a long, long time.”

– Peter Kray