New Book Shares History of Skiing Through Eyes of an Instructor
My Life in Winters, a new book by Mike Ewing, a 50-year ski instructor, entrepreneur, innovator, and former president of the PSIA-AASI Northern Rocky Mountain Division, shares the history of U.S. snowsports through the unique perspective of a teacher.
Mike, who first earned his PSIA pin in 1965, has worked in snowsports as an athlete, ski patrolman, and injury researcher, and also as a sales rep, designer, and business owner.
Along the way he has shared on-snow experiences with alpine legends such as Wayne Wong, Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin, and Phil and Steve Mahre, been eyewitness to some of America’s most storied Olympic moments, and laid fresh tracks on some of the most iconic slopes in the country.
Here, he sits down to share some of the highlights of his seven-decade snowsports journey. (See the bottom of the page for a special book discount specifically for PSIA-AASI members).
Mike, how did you get started as a ski instructor, and how did that open doors in the snowsports industry for you?
I started as an instructor after achieving the rank of Eagle Scout in 1956. Roman Fisher, who was my scoutmaster and the Monarch Ski Area general manager asked me to stay involved and “pay it forward” by helping other scouts achieve their goals. So I taught young scouts how to ski and served as merit badge counselor, which led to me first teaching professionally in 1960 Christmas Break.
Seventy-one years of skiing is a lot of great history. What did you enjoy the most about writing this book to share with other ski enthusiasts?
Seventy-one years of Skiing, 66 years of teaching. PSIA Certified since 1965. What I have I enjoyed the most is sharing all the history and being able to pass along my insider’s view of the ski industry.
Wayne Wong, Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin, and the Mahre Twins (Phil & Steve) are true alpine icons. Is there a particular story of skiing with one of them you’d like to share?
I think my involvement of getting the Mahre Twins started with Lange Ski Boots and K2 Skis is a story that I love sharing because of their spectacular careers and the fact they stayed on those products for their entire careers. I believe the K2 brand was enhanced a hundred-fold over because of their successes.
Rumor has it you were in a Warren Miller movie. Tell us more about that.
I skied for him the winter of 1962-1963, the first year Vail was open. Vail founder Pete Seibert and I skied the Back Bowls with Warren and I jumped off Cliff for him under Chair 4. I think I was possibly the first to do so. It makes me laugh when I see the stuff guys are jumping off now.
How did your perspective as an instructor, especially regarding how we welcome people to the sport, inform how you view so many of the innovations and trends that have made skiing what it is now?
From my perspective as an instructor, I believe the changes in skiing are the result of how best we can make it easier to reach a level of skiing that makes skiing fun for our clients. When we think back on the days skiing on skis without steel edges and bindings that were non releasable, we have to feel a sense of how much safer the gear is now and the whole industry’s progress. Lift improvements, coupled with grooming and manmade snow, have made it possible to get people to a competent level of skiing in three days of lessons.
Are there any other highlights PSIA-AASI members can enjoy reading about in My Life in Winters?
Historically, PSIA-AASI has been a leader in moving forward and lots of great innovations came out of experiences that resulted in rethinking how we were approaching the problem. Some of the best are highlighted in the book. I’m also proud of the inclusion that the ski industry is showing and in leading the sports world in gender equality, which I write about in chapter20, Women in Skiing.
To get your PSIA-AASI member discount on a copy of My Life in Winters, go to Etsy.com/shop/MyLifeinWinters and enter the code 25PSIAAASI at checkout. Or, just use this URL.