Ski Instructors Confidential
Years ago, while teaching in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, we offered “Ski Weeks” to the public. During Ski Weeks, we would typically meet the new students on Monday and stay with them through Friday.As a general rule, we would spend two or three days at the bottom of the mountain until the students were ready to ride the lift up to ski beginner and intermediate terrain. One particularly annoying student had an unquenchable need to talk. During class, after class, it didn’t matter. As long as HE was the center of attention.At the end of the second day, I suggested to all of the students to bring cameras in the morning because the view was going to be spectacular where we were going next.On the third morning, our talkative friend didn’t bring a camera. He brought a movie set: a suitcase filled with camera equipment, including telephoto lenses, tripods, reflectors, lens filters, extension cords, etc. Being the consummate professional, I hauled his suitcase around for the next two days. At the end of the third day, I agreed to hold on to the suitcase and return it to him the next morning.The morning of our final day together, a number of instructors agreed to go for an early-morning run before convening class. We decided to play a little practical joke on our talkative friend, so we took his camera equipment with us.After reaching the top of the mountain, we lowered our trousers so that one of the other instructors could take photographs of us “mooning” our talkative client. A little “going-away” present as it were. At the conclusion of the week, I handed my client back his suitcase of camera equipment safe in the knowledge that I would never see him again.He gushed, “Oh, this has been the greatest week of my life. I have learned so much and you have been so helpful. I can’t begin to tell you how nice you have been to me.””In fact,” he said, “I’ve booked another vacation, so we can continue this in two weeks!”Booie AlwardQuebec, Canada
Many years ago, I was ski school director at the Red River Resort in New Mexico. Red River was a minuscule ski area that ran on a small but efficient staff. In the days before modern grooming, we only had two snowcats to pack the snow and one of them was usually on the fritz. We also had at our disposal a large contingent of migrant workers at the resort who made up the packing and grooming crews.While usually meaning well, the migrant workers were notoriously unreliable when it came to showing up for work. One day they would show up, the next day they wouldn’t. One morning, we had over 6 inches of new snow, so I thought to myself, “I’d better get up early and plan on running the snowcat myself or we won’t be ready to open on time.”When I prepared to board the snowcat, I was warned by the maintenance foreman that the cat had a peculiar habit of unexpectedly quitting. He suggested that I bring along my skis in case I needed to get back down “on foot.” After several hours of packing the freshly fallen snow, I decided to head back down to the bottom of the mountain. Sure enough, without warning, BOOM. The snowcat lurched to an abrupt halt, miles from nowhere.After a number of futile attempts at starting the cat, I decided to leave it where it was and head down on skis. Looking down at my feet, I realized I was wearing my after-ski boots and had neglected to bring along my conventional ski boots. Contemplating my situation for a few moments, I adjusted the bindings to my after-ski boots and headed down the mountain.On my way down, I passed an instructor teaching a class of intermediate skiers. Being the ever-present public relations man that a ski school director should be, I stopped by the class to say hello and to introduce myself. While chatting with the instructor, I noticed another class farther down and headed over to schmooze with them for a few minutes.At the end of the day, I ran into the two instructors down in the locker room. I asked them, “Say, did you happen to notice anything unusual about my equipment today when I was talking to your group?” The two instructors looked at each other quizzically and answered, “No, not really. Why?” So, I told them, “I skied all the way down the mountain and stood in front of your class wearing after-ski boots.”The two morals of the story:First, if you’re a really great skier, it doesn’t matter what type of boots you wear.Second, ski instructors are not as observant as they think they are.Eric WindsichVail, ColoradoThese stories were taken from “Ski Instructors Confidential: The Stories Ski Instructors Swap Back At The Lodge,” a collection of more than 160 tales from ski teachers around the country. The book, compiled by freelance writer and ski instructor Allen Smith of Vail, is not in stores yet, but can be purchased at http://www.snowwriter.com, or by calling 1-800-201-7892, ext. 97. The book is $12.95, plus $4.95 for shipping and handling.
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A ski season surrounded with uncertainty kicks off on Wednesday. The six inches of new snowfall Tuesday will allow opening of an additional 62 acres on Aspen Mountain, bringing opening-day total to about 160 acres.