After a grueling four-day competition and selection process held April 17 – April 21 at Breckenridge, Colorado, the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) announced the names of the PSIA-AASI members selected from 81 total candidates to serve on the 2016-20 PSIA-AASI Team.
There are many talented new team members, and TheSnowPros.org has been giving them the personal introduction they deserve. Here, meet Vail snowboard instructor Chris Rogers.
Can you tell the members a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, where long winters make for a natural introduction to snowsports. My parents say I learned to ski before learning to walk. After graduating from high school, two buddies and I bought an RV and spent three months riding at more than 30 ski areas in Canada, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Colorado. That trip launched me into a career in snowsports, first in journalism, then in snowboard education. I live in EagleVail, and manage ski and snowboard school training at Vail Mountain.
What is your teaching background?
In the fall of 2004, I moved to Steamboat for a year off between college and a "real job." Scott Anfang, who I met a couple years prior as a result of the road trip, convinced me to try teaching, and I accidentally discovered a passion (and a career). I love teaching, and from day one of new-hire training, knew this was going to be more than just a job. Leading training was just a natural progression from there.
What is it about snowboarding that is so appealing to you?
The complete freedom of our sport. During team training, the snowboard team talked a lot about Alpine's Five Fundamentals, which start with the concept: “as a nation of skiers, what do we value as ‘great’ skiing?” We don't ask or answer that question in snowboarding. Great snowboarding is primarily defined by the stoke level of the participant, and where they are in the Y model.
I also love the sensations, like a face full of snow on a powder day, the feeling of your edge biting into fresh corduroy, weightlessness at the apex of a jump. There’s nothing quite like it.
What drives you when you're not on snow?
Somewhere in the last 12 years, my passion evolved from snowboarding to teaching people to snowboard, and then again from teaching snowboarding to training others to teach. In the last few years, I would say that’s grown to encompass developing people in a more general sense. Beyond just training ski and snowboard instruction, what really drives me is being in a career that enables me to encourage others in areas of personal growth and professional development.
How have you been able to make a career out of teaching (and not work in an office)?
This one is funny, because I do work in an office. It's just that I have two of them; one is on-mountain with my boots and board, and the other is at the bottom of the mountain. We all have to find our path to making this a career. It took me a couple of tries, exploring the journalism and marketing sides of the industry before finding my place in ski school. The first few years can be tough to make a living, but I focused on training and certification, and built good relationships in the locker room. Within a few years I was primarily working private lessons and leading training. I actually credit the journalism and marketing experience with helping me get ahead as an instructor.
Now that you're on the team, what are your goals?
I see a lot of opportunity for us in the digital realm. From e-learning to social media and YouTube. I have a few projects in the works that I’m not quite ready to share, but technology is opening a lot of really cool doors. Right now, you go to a clinic, work with a clinician, and get a bunch of "homework" to keep working on. Just like Kahn Academy, we could flip the classroom - imagine putting on a VR headset and starting a clinic with a team member the week before they visit your resort. You'd get the content to work on before the clinician arrives, and go straight to application on hill.
What does PSIA-AASI membership mean to you?
PSIA-AASI is a community of like-minded ski and snowboard education enthusiasts (nerds) like me. It's the keys to understanding so much more about our sport, and getting to share that with millions of lesson-takers across the country. It's travel, adventure, excitement, friends, and a world of lifelong learning.
- Peter Kray