Ski instructors sync up on Aspen Mountain
April 5, 2013
ASPEN – If you’re skiing on Aspen Mountain Friday, you’ll likely see lines of identically clad skiers forming figures on the slope above Bonnie’s restaurant.
It’s no accident: Men and women from Aspen, Telluride and Beaver Creek are here for the Aspen World Synchro Championships. Most of the athletes are instructors in their home resorts who participate in the technical sport to hone their skills – as well as have a little fun.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to improve my skiing and meet new people,” said Amy DaRosa, an instructor at Snowmass who joined Aspen Team Diva-Ettes this year. “For most of us, we’re just in it for the social aspect.”
Members of the Aspen Demo Team, who are all instructors at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands, said one of the reasons they started synchronized skiing is so they have an excuse to ski together. Team member Joan Valentine also pointed out the unique nature of the competition.
“Skiing is an individual sport,” she said. “It’s challenging in an individual sport to create a team element.”
Snowmass ski instructor Kelly Beairsto, who coached the Diva-Ettes this year, said the team spent half its training time this season working on skiing skills alone.
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“If we don’t have similar technique, it’s hard to synchronize,” DaRosa said.
Diva-Ettes team member Andrea Bishop, also an instructor at Snowmass, said the sport doesn’t just require technical skills, though. Synchronized skiers have to be aware of their teammates and their paths as well as use their peripheral vision and ski as technically as possible.
“I was using parts of my brain that I never had to use before,” said Bishop, who started competing six years ago.
Aspen has three local teams in the competition, and all of the skiers are instructors with Aspen Skiing Co. Because the visiting teams also are stacked with instructors, the competition also offers an opportunity for networking, according to Bishop. That can improve the way instructors do their jobs because they can recommend alternative instructors for their clients and influence one another’s skiing.
“We’re all ski pros, and we’re all kind of interconnecting,” Bishop said. “It’s our form of networking.”
Teams compete in groups of six or eight and are judged on five criteria: synchronization, technical skiing, degree of difficulty of the figure, overall appearance and deductions. Each team takes four runs, and the scores of each are combined. The top three teams win cash prizes.
Aspen Team Diva has been hosting the championships since 2003. The all-female group has had enough interest to support two teams – the Divas and Diva-Ettes – for a few years.
DaRosa said she was excited to see how the competing teams responded to one another during training the past two days, cheering one another on for every run they finished.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie,” she said.
DaRosa said she definitely will be back next year.
“It’s part of my skiing life now,” she said.