Welcome to the Member Spotlight, an online feature on TheSnowPros.org that 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!
Name: Angus Graham
Primary Discipline: Alpine
You, Your Gear, and Your Favorites
How long have you been sliding on snow? 32 years
Where did you learn to ski or snowboard? Sunday River, ME
What is your best skiing or snowboarding memory? 2016 Alpine Team Tryouts was amazing, but going out on wicked cold days with my mother Marguerite would have to be the best. She had me on snow from the age of 2 and has been encouraging me ever since.
What would you say to someone to encourage them to try skiing or snowboarding? Just go one time. Ride a chairlift and your life will be changed forever. Take a lesson. Invest in a lifetime experience just once. Yes it will cost you money, but that is nothing compared to a lifetime of memories.
What’s your favorite ski resort or area (aside from your own)? Highlands Bowl has some of the best inbounds terrain I have ever skied.
What’s your all-time favorite run or trail? White Heat at Sunday River. Just because...
What equipment are you skiing or riding on? It depends on the day and the weather. I love the Tecnica Mach 1 boot and the Blizzard Quatro skis. When I head to the backcountry, the Cochise Pro 130 boot and the Blizzard Zero G 108 sure do shred powder with ease.
Camber, rocker, flat, or hybrid? Yes. Please. Everything. If done well...
Camber - Blizzard WRC/Quattro/Brahama = Awesome front side GS type skis.
Rocker - Blizzard or Peacemaker (most underrated twin tip rip stick ever.)
Flat - Blizzard Spur or Bodacious.
Hybrid - Blizzard Cochise and Bonafide.
The Best. Period.
Describe your first ski or snowboard setup. Red boots, white skis. That’s all my mind can conjure after 32 years. They were rad though!
What’s the one ski or snowboard accessory you can’t live without? My POC helmet.
What’s your favorite ski or snowboard movie? Too many. "Ski Patrol." "Aspen Extreme."" Hot Tub Time Machine?"
What’s your favorite off-snow hobby? I am a ceramic artist by trade. In the summers I make pottery.
What’s your favorite summer destination (or one you’re dying to get to)? Portillo... Mmmmmmm
PSIA-AASI and Your Snowsports Education Career
PSIA-AASI Division: Rocky Mountain
Certifications & specialties achieved: Rocky Mountain Division Trainer; Alpine Level III; Children’s Specialist 2; Freestyle Specialist 1, candidate for 2016 Alpine Team Selection
Resort(s) you work at: Sunday River, Snowmass, Aspen
How long have you been instructing? 12 years
How long have you been a PSIA-AASI member? 9 years
What inspired you to become an instructor? My mother. She raced at New England College and still makes a great turn.
Do you teach part-time or fulltime? Fulltime
What other profession(s) or endeavor(s) are you involved in? I’m a ceramic artist.
What about your teaching style stands out? Establishing a connection to the whole person.
What is your favorite age group to teach and why? Any person, any ski, anywhere, any condition. Iif my boots are on and skis are clicked in, then life is great.
What is you biggest accomplishment as an instructor? Making it to the last day of the 2016 Alpine Team Selection was an unbelievable feeling. So many amazing and passionate people all in one place. Such a great time.
What’s your favorite PSIA-AASI member benefit? Patagonia deals
Who is your favorite PSIA-AASI Official Supplier – and why? Patagonia, Blizzard, POC, Tecnica, Hestra. All make top-notch gear.
Is there a brand, supplier, or industry organization you would like PSIA-AASI to work with? Whole Foods
What are your skiing or riding goals for this season? I am going to apply to become an E1 examiner with the Rocky Mountain Division of PSIA-AASI. I would like to continue to inspire others to keep learning, growing, and sharing with others to the best of their ability.
What are your teaching goals for this season? Teach and play and inspire as many smiles and good feelings as possible.
If you could leave any legacy behind in the snowsports industry, what would it be? Smiles. Lots and lots and lots of smiles
If there was one thing you could accomplish as an instructor, what would it be? I would love to be a member of the PSIA Alpine Team.
What’s the best piece of advice you could offer a new instructor? Keep going. Speak less. Listen more. Ask more questions. Keep the group moving. Go slow. Have more fun than you think is possible. Be safe. Smile, Smile, Smile. Make it the best day ever, no matter what. Always.
What’s one thing an instructor should never do or be? Remember, Campers: "Ego is not your amigo."
Describe a scenario where you had to teach a difficult lesson and how you handled it. There are no difficult lessons. Just changes of perspective. I was impatient once. I learned real quick that patience is the greatest gift I can give myself.
Who has had the most positive influence on you and your career as an instructor? Joe Dunn and Jonathan Ballou
Your Advice to Instructors
What’s your advice for teaching…
Beginners: Have the best day ever. Lay an epic foundation. Make it as easy as possible, and help minimize any and all fear. Identify and facilitate movements, understanding, and motivations.
Intermediates: Ski, ski, ski. Pick one skill, one task, one thing to work on and stay focused on that one thing. Be aware of the group and keep them moving and having fun. Identify and facilitate movements, understanding, and motivations.
Advanced students: Keep them moving even more. Use clear and concise statements. Talking happens inside or on the chairlift; less on the hill. One focus. One task. One drill. Address the whole person and their needs. Identify and facilitate movements, understanding, and motivations.
What advice do you have for instructors preparing for certification?
Level I: Be a sponge. Be nothing but a sponge. Absorb and have fun. Make it awesome for everyone around you. Take in as much as possible and enjoy the process.
Level II: Study. Practice and study. Take what you have absorbed and process it both internally and externally. Practice it with others.
Level III: Train. Train. Train. Work at it. Love the process and the information. Don’t stop.
“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
― Bruce Lee
Sound off... Anything else you want to share? If everyone skied there would be no war.
Connect with Angus on Facebook: facebook.com/Angus Graham; Instagram: @anguspotterski
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