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: James Pitcher
Member Since: 2008
Primary discipline: Snowboard
PSIA-AASI Division: Western
You, Your Gear, and Your Favorites
When did you start skiing or riding? 2002
What is your best skiing or snowboarding memory? That's difficult! I think my humble beginnings at the
local plastic slope in Glasgow, Scotland have a special place in my heart. When you start with a slope made of bristles held in place by a metal grid, riding on feet of powder is a luxury!
What would you say to someone to encourage them to try skiing or snowboarding? No matter what you do, if you want to be good at anything it will take hard work. If you put the effort in, snowsports opens many possibilities that other sports don't.
What are your favorite off-snow hobbies? Bouldering
PSIA-AASI and Your Snowsports Education Career
Certifications & specialties achieved: Snowboard Level III, Alpine Level II, Children’s Specialist 2, Freestyle Specialist 1, AASI-W Divisional Trainer, SSE IV and Examiner.
Resort you work at: Plymouth Ski and Snowboard Centre, England
What inspired you to become an instructor? I wanted to ride for free and make some money. It took me a while to appreciate that teaching snowsports can be a profession.
Do you teach part-time or full-time? Part-time
What other profession(s) or endeavor(s) are you involved in? I run a small ski school in Plymouth, England, so I teach and manage year-round. I'm lucky enough to live in a place you can surf and ride in the same day, so I try to get on my surfboard too. Waves can be scarier than snow!
What about your teaching style stands out? I'm patient and understanding of people. I use humor and analogies to try to bridge the gap between where someone is and where they want to be.
What is you biggest accomplishment as an instructor? Working full time in the industry and still loving snowsports - it's all too easy to find greener pastures.
What’s your favorite PSIA-AASI member benefit? Professional development - there's nowhere else I've been where you can develop camaraderie and skills at the same time.
Who is your favorite PSIA-AASI Official Supplier – and why? Smith - I've used their goggles for years, and never been let down.
What are your current skiing or riding goals? I really want to get more splitboarding in!
What are your current teaching goals? To try to retain all the skills I learned when I was working full time.
Your Advice to Instructors
What’s the best piece of advice you could offer a new instructor? Enjoy it - there's never been a more exciting and rewarding time in my life than when I started out.
What are some of your tips for teaching the following students…
Beginners: Go slower than you think you need to, and always remember it's supposed to be fun.
Intermediates: Get them hooked on the sport - show them that skill development can take them cool places.
Advanced students: Find out where they want to go and enable them to get there.
What advice do you have for instructors preparing for certification?
Level I: It's easier than you think - practice and care will get you there.
Level II: You're not as good as you think you are! Find out what you don't know, and explore the mountain.
Level III: Push yourself in every way you can, and get as many people around you as you can to help you get there.
Sound off… Anything else you want to share? Sliding on snow will always be fun, but it's up to us snow pros to figure out how to preserve our way of life into the future. Our industry faces some stark challenges, and I believe the solutions are out there in the strength of the dedicated few who make our winter playgrounds tick. We've got to be inventive and strategic in harnessing that energy!
Connect with James Pitcher on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @snowsportsjames
Want to see yourself in our next "Member Spotlight?" Fill out this questionnaire for a chance to be featured across our social media platforms, the eNewsletter, and our website. You could even make it into 32 Degrees!