Ski instructor aimed to make Snowmass known as best |

Ski instructor aimed to make Snowmass known as best

Will Snyder was an avid skier who spent nearly 10 years with Aspen Snowmass Ski School, teaching the under 6 group and most recently serving on the Private Ski School Team.
Courtesy photo

While teaching ski lessons in Michigan, Will Snyder found his passion for the outdoors, teaching, and skiing. He called his aunt in Summit County, Elizabeth Tobias, and asked whether he should teach at Beaver Creek or Aspen. She encouraged him to go for Aspen.

“We said, ‘You are going to fall in love with Aspen,’ and he said, ‘That’s all I needed to know.’ And that’s the end of the story. He called (Aspen Skiing Co.), got a job, and made connections,” said Tobias.

That was in 2014, when he joined the Snowmass Ski School team, teaching the under 6 program.

“He was the epitome of a ski instructor,” said fellow ski instructor and friend Nathalie Nevins. “He never took a day off.”

The local ski instructor, hockey coach and player, golfer, and all around adventure-seeker died in a skiing accident in Alaska on Friday, April 21, at the age of 35.

He met Nevins in his first season as an instructor at Snowmass. They became fast friends.

“He’s my best friend. And it’s funny because everyone will say that they were his best friend. We joked he was like Spider-Man because everyone was always saying, ‘He’s my best friend. No, he’s my best friend,'” she said.

She, Snyder, and Michael Reveal, a fellow Snowmass ski instructor who passed away last year, carpooled to work at Snowmass. During their drive, they would plot ways to make Snowmass Ski School “cool” in the ski school world, Nevins said.

“The three of us were really set on being ‘Snowmass for life,'” she said.

More recently, Snyder began teaching private lessons. He was a certified Level III ski instructor and recently completed his Professional Ski Instructors of America Rocky Mountain Trainer certification.

According to Skico officials, he was a Snowmass Pro, a trainer, and a highly-requested private lesson Pro. 

“He could not sit still,” Tobias said. “He would work at Skittles over in Snowmass. He worked at the Mexican restaurant there and currently, was working at Mi Chola. He cared about his community, his family, and he loved Aspen and loved his friends.”

So much of what Snyder loved about Aspen stemmed from his upbringing in Michigan, she said. Snyder and his brother played hockey in travel leagues in Michigan.

“Skiing brought him here, and then he met the hockey community,” she said. “He got involved with the Aspen Junior Hockey program and helped make it flourish.”

Snyder coached at Aspen Junior Hockey for a few years and was the coach of the Aspen Junior Hockey 10U Squirt B team this past hockey season.

“Will was there for the kids, and that was his first priority,” said Aspen Junior Hockey Executive Director Harlan Pratt. “He wanted to give back to the kids, it was just the type of person he was. He was there to help as much as he could, which is hard to replace.”

Will Snyder was an Aspen Junior Hockey coach for a few years.
Courtesy of Aspen Junior Hockey

He was also deeply involved with his own hockey team, the Skullbeards, and spearheaded their all-pink appearance. Snyder went all-in with the pink appearance, getting all of his teammates on board with monogrammed pink bags, pink gloves, and pink uniforms.

Tobias said the pink was inspired by New Amsterdam’s Pink Whitney — a pink, pink lemonade-infused vodka created by hockey icons Paul Bissonnette and Ryan Whitney.

“The Skullbeards took it to outer orbit. They all loved it. So everything became pink because of it,” said Tobias. “He was a true leader on the team in a positive way. Everyone loved him.”

Will Snyder and his team, the Skullbeards, sported pink attire while playing.
Courtesy of Aspen Junior Hockey

Snyder is survived by his mother, Carol Nelson Snyder; siblings: Shannon Snyder, Patrick (Laura) Nelson, and Jennifer (Darren) Littell; step-mom, Lisa Snyder; step-sisters Michelle McKenzie and Danielle McClure; grandmother Patricia Nelson; aunts and uncles: Susan Nelson, David Nelson, Kelly (Kenny) Steinthal, Elizabeth (Philip) Tobias, and Ann Ostrowski; nieces, nephews and cousins: Dillon Snyder, Watson Littell, Hogan Tobias, Jack Tobias, Thaddeus Ostrowski, Rob Ostrowski, and many other extended family and friends.

Born in Gaylord, Michigan, Snyder was a graduate of Michigan State University. After college, he spent time in South Carolina, where he earned his boat captain license. He was also a tour guide at Tidal Wave Water Sports during his time there.

In lieu of flowers and because of his love for hockey, the family requests donations be made to a GoFundMe supporting Snyder’s nephew, Dillon, who is a hockey player just like his uncle. (

“(Dillon) was the love of his life,” said Tobias.

There is also a GoFundMe Will Snyder Memorial Fund to benefit Aspen Junior Hockey, another of Snyder’s passions. (

There will be a memorial service on Thursday, April 27. It will start with a remembrance service at Home Team at Inn at Aspen from 4-6 p.m. and a celebration of life at Mi Chola beginning at 6. Friends and family are encouraged to wear pink or party shirts in honor of Snyder.