Welcome to Snow Pros Share, which gives well-deserved shine to some of the incredibly skillful and devoted ski and snowboard instructors who make up PSIA-AASI.
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 Snow Pros Share.)
Name: Wynn Miller
Member Since: 2008
Primary Discipline: Alpine
PSIA-AASI Division: Rocky Mountain
Resort: Breckenridge, Colorado
Certifications/Credentials: Alpine Level II, Children’s Specialist 1, Freestyle Specialist 1
What inspired you to become an instructor? Taking lessons at Breckenridge, with the cadre of outstanding professionals there, inspired me to become an instructor. They taught me to ski, which is a funny thing to say because I'd learned to ski 40 years beforehand, and I'd skied every one of those forty seasons since 1960. But there was something different, something special about skiing with a group of similar skiers all taking lessons at a high level.
It wasn't simply that the movement patterns that I'd developed over the decades were inefficient. It became clear that the teacher and the students were involved in the same project, exploring the movements optimal for directing the skis and the rider in the most efficient path of travel in any one of an almost infinite number of situations. Each situation is defined by the terrain, snow surface, traffic, weather, and individual goals of the skier. In order to be able to discuss tactics, we have to understand the principles governing ski and body performance. Since that requires an interest in lifelong learning, and I've found no better way to learn than through studying in order to teach, it seemed that joining the ranks of PSIA professionals was the most efficient path to enhance my studies and help share our passion for the sport with our students.
What keeps you coming back to teach every year? Remembering the experiences that I share with students on the hill. Over the years I have taken photographs of the students in lessons, free skiing, and at play. Watching those images cycle on my computer screen, I get to re-live the experience and reflect on the joys, sorrows, and epiphanies that each of us felt at the time. Reviewing those photos also provides an opportunity to think about the teaching that occurred in those moments and synthesize experience with knowledge about movements and the pedagogy of instruction, to improve on my delivery the next time such situations arise.
What stands out about your teaching? It's hard for the subject to be objective, don't you think? From my perspective, I feel that the students (and their parents, since I most often teach kids in a season-long program) have a nice rapport with their instructor, which could be shown by their readiness to ask any question at any time about any aspect of the sport, trusting that I will respond with candor and reasonably accurate relevant information.
What's one accessory, tool, or education resource you keep in your pocket? My phone, the iPhone, which is a camera. With the camera I keep an inventory of the students, so that I can share them with supervisors in case students get separated from the class. The phone takes videos, which are an unparalleled teaching aid because I can share images of the students in motion, and commentary on ski and body performance with them or share with their parents to watch on their own time. Other apps on the phone include those that track location, weather, and slope angle, all of which are handy for teaching and navigational purposes.
Is there an "insider tip" you'd share with new members? One shared with me by wise and experienced instructor: Put your skiing aside; this is about the student's learning.
Describe a teaching or learning experience that sticks out in your mind. After a couple of years, my teacher said, "You're changing your skiing." That was a valuable experience because it taught me that learning and skiing may be different from one another; that a teacher can observe changes in a student's cognition from his movements on snow; that learning takes time; and that a wise teacher appreciates (i.e., has empathy for) the time it can take a student to learn even the most basic principles.
Where can we find you in the summers? And doing what? Most recently I've been serving on the board of North London Mill Preservation, Inc., rehabilitating a 19th century gold mill on the Mosquito Pass Road between Alma and Leadville, Colorado – the highest road in America. The non-profit company was formed by another PSIA-AASI instructor with a vision of re-purposing the old office building as an alpine hut for backcountry skiers, hikers, and mountain bikers to stay overnight in comfort at timberline, and learn about an era of mineral exploitation in history that preceded the use of such lands for alpine skiing.
Connect with Wynn Miller on Twitter: @HuckFine or this website: http://www.nolocolorado.org
Want to see yourself in our next "Snow Pros Share?" 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!