Ski Instructors Confidential |

Ski Instructors Confidential

In 1947, Canadian-born Nic Fiore was invited by Luggi Foeger to be the ski school director at Badger Pass in Yosemite National Park.When he first arrived in Yosemite, Nic stood at the bottom of the park, gazing up at El Capitan and the surrounding granite cliffs. Mistakenly thinking this was the ski area, he looked at Luggi and said,”It looks like pretty good terrain. Where do the beginners ski?”Ronald ParodyWrightwood, Calif.

A ski instructor was riding the chairlift with a young boy when he saw a rather large man making his way downhill. He remarked to the boy,”How can anyone that fat, ski?”The boy replied to the instructor, “That’s my Dad.”The rest of the chairlift ride was a mountain of silence.Phil KrichbaumVail, Colo.

Long before alpine skiing took off for the masses, I used to film my friends’ rudimentary attempts at skiing. In the evenings over beer, we would gather around the projector and kibitz one another’s futile attempts at staying upright. Soon, another unknown ski photographer named Warren Miller started making his own 8-millimeter films with more commercial aspirations.Some of Warren’s early attempts at filmmaking were primitive, at best. It was not uncommon for his films to have overexposed frames and scenes where the camera moved around with a large thumb in the corner of the screen. So, before he went out on the road to present his films to paying customers, he would show them to his friends. This gave him the opportunity to get feedback and allowed him to practice his narration.Film was also expensive in the 1940s, so Warren tried to use as much of the raw footage as possible, discarding little. Instead of tossing unused footage in the trash, he would work it into his presentation and gloss it over with witty dialogue.Aware that I had made some early ski films of my own, Warren came up to me after one of his screenings and asked,”Wolfgang, what did you think about the film? I only had to discard 35 feet of footage.”I looked at him and said, “Yes. That’s the problem.”Wolfgang LertSan Francisco, Calif.

An older gentleman was skiing on one of the catwalks late in the season. With him were two young children, most likely his grandchildren. Not paying particular attention to the conditions, he came to an area where the sun had melted the snow down to mud. He skied right into the mud and fell flat on his face.I expected the children were about to learn a few new words from grandpa as he attempted to right himself. Instead, the gentleman got up, brushed the mud off of his face, turned to the youngsters and said,”Let that be a lesson to you kids. Skis don’t work very well in mud!”Dave YostVail, Colo.

Early one morning, I was skiing down an easy trail with a group of British teens. It was the day after a major snowfall and the trees looked like they had been covered in fluffy white cotton candy. The kids were really excited. They had grown up just outside London and had never seen 3 inches of snow cover before.When we stopped at one point to re-assemble the group, one of them asked if they could take off their skis and “tread in the forest.”Soon, they were tumbling and frolicking in the woods, eating the snow and attempting to throw powder at each other. They were gleefully playing, the way you would expect much younger kids to play.When they were all done rolling in the powder, one of the boys came out of the woods and stood on the side of the trail with snow still caked onto his wool socks. Ecstatic over the deep, fluffy powder, he announced to me,”That was unbelievable! The snow was into me woolies!”Glen CoatesOkemo, Vt.

In the middle of a particularly nasty winter, I had a beginner’s class of middle-age visitors from Texas. On this day, it was snowing very hard. To be more precise, it was absolutely dumping. To help make light of the situation and to take their minds off of the inclement weather, I had them shuffle back and forth on one ski, play games, etc.Just before we were about to push off for the chairlift, I stopped and asked the class if anyone had any questions. One middle-age lady who was caked with snow said,”What’s the deal here? My travel agent told me that it only snows here at night!”David Hedderly-SmithPark City, UtahThese 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 available at the Aspen Book Store, or online at, 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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