PSIA-AASI Celebrates the Life of Bill Lash: 2/1/1928 – 4/23/2023
William “Bill” Lash, one of the Professional Ski Instructors of America’s original founders, the association’s first president, and champion of Interski 1968 in Aspen, Colorado – the first and only Interski to be held in the United States – died on April 23, 2023, in Seattle at the age of 95.
Known as the man who “called the vote” that officially created PSIA at a national instructors’ meeting in Whitefish, Montana, in 1961, Bill was a lifelong promoter and proponent of the power of professional instruction to share and grow the lifelong adventure of skiing. He received PSIA-AASI’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.
Lash was a prolific author of instructional manuals and methodologies including the Outline of Teaching Methods in 1958 – “the first complete ski instructors’ manual distributed on a national level,” according to Bill’s U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame induction in 1983, as well as 1963’s The Official American Ski Technique, also known among instructors as “The White Book.” Bill firmly believed in the power of community and collaboration to create lasting alliances for the professional development of instructors, their students, and the international teaching network.
Here, some of PSIA-AASI’s current and recent leaders share their thoughts on Bill Lash’s impact on U.S. snowsports instruction, the importance of working toward common goals, and the opportunities he created for all of us.
(Left to right) Paul Valar and Bill Lash with an early copy of The Official American Ski Technique, PSIA’s “White Book,” which would first set the standards for ski instruction in the U.S.
“I feel immense loyalty and duty to the original vision of the founding fathers. Bill didn’t just become PSIA’s first president, he was a driving force in the snowsports industry. His philosophies and vision for a unified organization endure within our association. With over 33,000 members, spread out around the country and even the globe, his original concept and passion for a unified teaching system continue to be used and assessed to this day.
Bill spoke of trust, teamwork, and collaboration over 60 years ago… that is what will continue to drive success for PSIA-AASI into the future and it is the responsibility of today’s leaders within the organization to continue to build a strong, diverse, unified community of snowsports instructors.”
– Eliza Kuntz, PSIA-AASI Board Chair
“Bill Lash was a pioneer in the U.S. ski industry and pivotal in the creation of PSIA and, ultimately, PSIA-AASI. We would not be the strong, successful organization we are today without Bill’s vision of a national association of instructors.”
– Peggy Hiller, PSIA-AASI Chief Executive Officer
“My fondest memory of meeting Bill relates to his ability to see the bigger picture – the possibilities of what PSIA could be for the entire country. He saw the reality that it’s all about connecting with people and would travel around the country to learn about each of the regions. He talked about how it’s not always easy, but it is always better if we work together. It’s good to share same vision and goal of how much greater we can be when we focus on what’s best for instruction, and work in the interest of the bigger picture.”
– Nicholas Herrin, former PSIA-AASI Chief Executive Officer
“I had the pleasure a few years ago to spend an afternoon with Bill Lash, discussing the early years of PSIA. I hadn’t previously understood the struggles our young organization went through in its early years. During those hours together, the perseverance and dedication of the men who created and nurtured the organization became obvious to me. As its first president, Bill was instrumental in creating the dream of an American teaching method taught by certified instructors across the country for the betterment of both the skiing public and the industry. At times during my own time as PSIA-AASI president, I often found inspiration in focusing on that dream. I am sure that Bill is proud of where the organization is today and of the diversity in its membership and leadership that is bonded by that dream.”
– Ed Younglove, former PSIA-AASI Board Chair
“I read about Bill’s passing and it caused me to reflect on his role with PSIA and how much he did. His idea of a national body, with international links, was extraordinary at the time. We are still working to live up to his vision for a national teaching method and certification to benefit our students and our instructors. It took a long time for the trust and understanding to bear fruit and Bill fought hard for it. He was a methodologist, a teacher, a researcher, a diplomat, a technician, as well as a tenacious negotiator and mediator. We are so fortunate to have inhabited his passionate vision and dream. Thanks Bill!”
– John Armstrong, former PSIA-AASI President
(Left to right) Ed Younglove, Bill Lash, and Nicholas Herrin.
Evolving Into the Future
Read this article about how Bill set the foundation for PSIA-AASI to evolve into the future. Bill said, “the future of skiing in this country – both from a recreational and professional standpoint – depends on the quality of instruction at our ski schools.”