Member Spotlight: Intermountain’s Nathan Jarvis

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: Nathan Jarvis
Member Since: 2011
Primary Discipline: Alpine
PSIA-AASI Division: Intermountain

You, Your Gear, and Your Favorites

When did you start skiing or riding?

What is your best skiing or snowboarding memory?
Every time one of my students (all ages) gets a big grin on their face and almost shouts, “Wow! That’s way more gooder than before! Let’s do that some more!”

My focus is on fun and memory-making as much as it is on acquiring new skills, so words like “gooder” and “gooderest” are normal terms for us. I get to make favorite memories over and over again each season. Being there when a new skier is “born” and/or an experienced skier enthusiastically breaks through to a new level of playfulness—that’s the best!

What would you say to someone to encourage them to try skiing or snowboarding?

  • Do you wish you could fly? Let’s go ski!
  • Do you like to play big? Let’s go ski!
  • Want to stay young? Let’s go ski!

What’s your favorite off-snow hobby?
Building things… usually out of wood.

PSIA-AASI and Your Snowsports Education Career

Certifications & specialties achieved:
Alpine Level II and Children’s Specialist 2. I’m also on the Park City training staff.

Resort(s) you work at:
Park City, Utah

What inspired you to become an instructor?
I love to ski. I have been involved in teaching all my life (well, for the last 43 years at least), and working in my art studio by myself is sometimes a brain drain. Working as a ski instructor is one of those things that my heart had been whispering to me for decades, so when we left the Kansas City area and moved to the Utah mountains it became time to answer the call.

Do you teach part-time or full-time?
Part-time plus (just shy of FT).

What other profession(s) or endeavor(s) are you involved in (summer & winter)?
I am an internationally known award-winning illustrator. I have been a freelance illustrator for over 40 years (New York Times, Highlights for Children, General Mills, every major educational publisher, Children’s Television Workshop, Scholastic, to name a few).

Last year I launched a new business, Smartful Kids, that focuses on quickly changing worried, whiny or bored kids into curious, connected and playful learners!

And most recently Olympian Libby Ludlow and I teamed up to co-create A-B-Skis, an alphabet book about the magical world of skiing. She and I are passionate about improving beginner conversion stats among the sport’s most important people—families and the little kiddos who will be keeping resorts open, fighting for sensible environmental stewardship and breathing life into the industry’s many supporting businesses.

Libby did a wonderful job of capturing the spirit of skiing in a playful way. Her U.S. Ski Team and Olympic experiences combine with her new identity as a mom to little (soon to be) rippers in a way that makes her choice of A, B, Cs different from other writers. Libby really nailed it as far as capturing the heart and soul of why skiing is the funnerest fun a kid could hope for.

What about your teaching style stands out?
I am a big believer in patiently helping skiers “own” (master is a slippery word) a new skill on friendly terrain before adding steeper stuff under their feet. Fun is better than fear. And owning skills, always choosing friendly terrain, and adding adventures that anchor rather than erase those skills is at the heart of my teaching style.

Oh, and I have a two-faced rubber duck on my helmet. I am known by many as “Silly Nathan”—something I answer proudly to.

What is your biggest accomplishment as an instructor?
I think that my greatest accomplishment is the way I incorporate the really well developed and academically sound PSIA-AASI resources into my “everywhere life.”

I love helping new instructors become enthusiastic returning instructors. I love having guests become friends who come back to ski with me year after year. But I am especially happy with the way I incorporate enthusiasm and playfulness into the instructing process.

What’s your favorite PSIA-AASI member benefit?
Getting to rub shoulders and share ideas with some really talented and fun professionals who share my interest in growing the sport, and the awesome people who put on a resort uniform and make magic happen for others

Who is your favorite PSIA-AASI Official Supplier – and why?
SWANY. I love their gloves. My hands have never been casualties to the cold weather when I have SWANY gloves on my stuck in a blizzard self!

I love SMITH, too! Great gear all around.

What are your current skiing or riding goals?

  1. Finish up my Alpine Level III.
  2. Create a new a “best day ever” story to share every day I am on the mountain.

What are your current teaching goals?

  1. Earn Children’s Specialist Trainer.
  2. Continue to help create enthusiastic, playful, and well prepared new instructors every year.​

Your Advice to Instructors

What’s the best piece of advice you could offer a new instructor?
Have fun. Be alert. Ask questions. Get all the training you can. And start each day by asking yourself, “What can I do to help my students have something to laugh and brag about?”

What are some of your tips for teaching the following students…


  • Be patient.
  • Boot drills are golden.
  • Be positive and encouraging.
  • Focus on helping new skiers discover the sense of safety in being able to simply stop when they want to…on really friendly terrain! No stop? Not safe! No fun! Done!
  • Smile… for real!
  • Be even more patient!


  • Be patient.
  • Focus on one skill to explore — and do it in multiple ways all day.
  • Choose friendly terrain where skills can be owned rather than just experienced.
  • Create adventures that are fun, add a little bit (not a lot) of challenge, and leave students asking for “more please!”  Have the students play around with being “instructor for the run” — let them lead (with appropriate guidance).

Advanced Students

  • Listen to their wishlist.
  • Match the target skill with appropriate terrain.
  • Share “insider knowledge” about the mountain.
  • Focus on one skill to explore — and do it in multiple ways all day.
  • Make sure to make it fun, whatever you are doing.
  • Honor the guest’s trust — they are competent skiers who look to us for “polishing” rather than “sanding” — so make sure to help them see their new shine!

What advice do you have for instructors preparing for certification?

Level I

  • Have fun. It’s a friendly process.
  • Practice what you are learning…including, maybe especially, when you are teaching.
  • Ask trainers all the questions you have.
  • Take advantage of all the PSIA-AASI resources.
  • Have some more fun, but also be serious about it!

Level II

  • Embrace the learning curve.
  • Think more deeply about how the 5 fundamentals show up in your own skiing. Think more deeply about how you talk about those skills. Practice what you are learning…including, maybe especially, when you are teaching.
  • Ask trainers all the questions you have.
  • Take advantage of all the PSIA-AASI resources.
  • Be patient and persistent.

Level III

  • All of the above, and spend as much time skiing with mentors as you can.
  • Study the handbooks/manuals with understanding as the goal rather than merely remembering.
  • Combine your creativity with technical understanding when thinking of how to improve your own skiing and teaching, and then do the same when considering how to help someone else do the same.

Sound off… Anything else you want to share?
I will be in attendance as a sponsor at the upcoming Eastern Division Snowsports School Management Seminar at Killington, Vermont December 2-4. I’ll have copies of A-B-Skis and materials about Smartful Kids on hand — both really good tools to reach for when seeking to build better beginner conversion stats.

Connect with Nathan:
Facebook: nathanjarvisart
Twitter:  @nathan8403230
Instagram: @nyj_art
Pinterest: nathanyjarvis