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Instructors named to national demo team

Steve Benson

Five of the resort’s best ski and snowboard instructors have been named to the elite demonstration team of the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors.

Alpine skiers Andy Docken, Kurt Fehrenbach and Megan Harvey and snowboarder Butch Peterson were among 24 instructors selected from a field of 113 of the top instructors from around the United States. They were selected after surviving an intense five-day tryout in Snowbird, Utah, last month.

The three men are newcomers to the team, joining sisters Katie Fry and Harvey, who have been demo team members for eight years.

Fry was named head coach of the four demo teams – alpine, snowboard, nordic and adaptive – last fall. She taught skiing at Aspen and Snowmass, and spent the past five years managing the ski and snowboard school at Aspen Highlands before taking over at the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA).

Harvey was selected for her third consecutive term (incumbent demo team members are required to try out for the team each term, which lasts four years).

“I’m extremely proud of these guys,” Fry said. “The talent in this valley has taken us a long way – to have this representation is really awesome.”

The demo team provides instruction for ski school professionals throughout the country, formulating the core concepts, writing technical manuals and traveling the country to provide clinics for instructors.

“As a team we look at how we can bring this material to life and take it out on the road,” Fry said.

The 113 instructors at the national tryouts were selected last year from the nine geographic regions, including the Rocky Mountain, Eastern and Northwest. The actual tryouts began April 25 in Snowbird, in what the PSIA Web site refers to as a “combination of Survivor, The Apprentice, and American Idol compressed into a five-day real-world job interview.”

The first two days test the instructors’ physical abilities in a variety of terrain and conditions. By the third day the field had been cut by more than half, with only 28 alpine, 14 snowboard and nine nordic instructors remaining.

“It’s a very intense process,” Fry said.

“There were some broken skis and broken bones,” Docken said. “It was a week of managing your emotions and energy level – a lot of the time we were doing 13-hour days.

“But I was as prepared as I could be, I performed as well as I could the whole time.”

The final three days didn’t get any easier, as the applicants were tested on their teaching and leadership, movement analysis, coachability and indoor presentation skills.

“It was an awesome process to watch,” Fry said. “I’d been through this process twice, and this was by far the highest caliber I’ve ever seen.

“This is just a fine, dynamic group of people – I’m looking forward to working with them the next four years.”

Fry added that Aspen/Snowmass instructors did not have a leg up on the competition just because she is from Aspen.

“None of the selectors were from the Aspen area, and five were from Vail,” she said. “It just shows the support from the Skico has been outstanding in helping us get prepared and trained [to allow] the caliber of the pros to shine through.”

Jeff Hanle, Skico spokesman, said having five instructors from Aspen/Snowmass selected was an astonishing feat.

“It’s a great testament to the quality and professionalism of the ski school here,” Hanle said. “It’s something that makes the whole company proud to know we’ve got that many of our pros on the PSIA.”

Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com


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