From two skis to two wheels
September 10, 2013
Most ski and snowboard instructors do a lot more than teach.
Sometimes they teach beginners, and sometimes they guide more advanced athletes who just want a fun day on the hill. They share their knowledge about preventing injury, activities in the valley and competition and often form relationships with clients that last for years.
Now, a group of local pros is trying to apply that teaching model throughout the year. Pros in Motion, a business based in the Roaring Fork Valley, contracts ski and snowboard pros to give clients that all-around experience while they're recreating in other sports, particularly cycling.
"When I think about what really sets us apart as Pros in Motion, it's our ski model here within (the Professional Ski Instructors of America) but also within the ski school, its guest-centered teaching," pro Erik DaRosa said. "As ski and bike pros, we really have the ability to take that guest-centered teaching model and apply it … on two wheels. We don't look at our clients any differently whether they're on the snow or on the road."
Pros in Motion works with everyone from kids and older athletes just learning how to ride a bike to more advanced cyclists who want to explore the valley.
"We cater to all levels and all aspirations, really," founder Scott Kasin said. "Most people who ski and ride, a lot of them don't need a lesson. They don't perceive themselves as needing anything from us, and they end up coming away with this bonus sensation of, 'Wow — I didn't realize how much power I could get by pedaling that way.' … So when we take them out and we train them on the bike, there's a lot of direction going on; there's a lot of guidance in terms of what intensity to work out at, technique, how to be safe, how to protect yourself, where to ride so that you're safe on the road."
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Pros in Motion was created almost by accident when Kasin started riding with his ski clients. Kasin was racing bikes at the highest level for amateurs when he had a heart attack at age 41. After recovering, Kasin was still training, albeit not at the same level.
"My goals changed, but I still loved to ride the bike and wanted to share that with people, and somebody said to me, 'Why don't you ride with some of your ski clients?'" Kasin said. "The next thing you know, there I was actually meeting somebody for the first time on the bike who needed help getting ready for a triathlon, on learning to ride the time-trial bike."
That person has become one of Kasin's favorite ski clients, he said.
"We've been skiing and riding together for the last five years since," Kasin said. "Just by word-of-mouth, it picked up and picked up and picked up, and over the last couple of years I've been partnered with various hotels in running their cycling adventures out of their adventure center or through their concierge."
Kasin has since formalized the program, booking clients with pros who match their skill sets and availability. Pros in Motion operates independently, but it partners with the Viceroy in Snowmass Village and The Little Nell and the Limelight in Aspen, running cycling adventures out of the hotels.
"Now we've gotten to the point where we're training our pros, we're choosing our pros based on a common set of goals and a way of approaching the guest and treating the guest," Kasin said.
DaRosa rode with a family from New York City that was in town right before the start of the USA Pro Challenge. DaRosa started off with the father, taking him over some of the race route, and then he asked DaRosa to take his family out for an afternoon.
"They ended up liking it so much that he just decided on Friday, which was their last day, just to have a family ride, so I actually got the family out, taught Mom, daughter and son how to ride road bikes for the first time," DaRosa said. "We rode up to Ruedi. And now I'm actually flying to New York next week, and they want to ride again in Central Park with me."
The clients were flying back before the race actually kicked off, but they joined DaRosa for the opening ceremonies on Aug. 17 in Snowmass Base Village.
"It brought it all together," DaRosa said. "And now I pretty much get daily texts from him about 'I did such and such ride in the park today' and 'I remember when you taught me this, and it's helped me so much.'"
Health and safety are also important facets to what the pros do, including nutrition and hydration tips as well as sharing Kasin's knowledge of cardiac health. All the pros are CPR and AED certified, and some have had some first-responder or mountain-rescue training.
Kasin wants to give locals and others who haven't ridden with the group yet a chance to participate with a four-day event later this month. One day each will be dedicated to leading people over the Pro Challenge Stage 1 route and up and down Independence Pass. The pros will lead groups on a tour of the Roaring Fork Valley another day and a double stage of the Maroon Bells and Castle Creek Road on the last day.
Kasin is planning the tour for the weekend of Sept. 22 and 23. He said athletes can participate in two or more days, stretched out over two different weekends or four days in a row. Groups will be broken out by skill level.
"There's such a different dimension to riding in the fall versus the summer, and we want to share that with everyone," Kasin said.
Their work doesn't stop there. The pros are continuing to help people train for events throughout the fall, including the Rally the Valley race on Sept. 21 in Glenwood Springs and El Tour de Tucson on Nov. 23. The pros also help people train for ski season.
"It's really the relationships that kind of start on the bike really end up transcending into personal life, onto the snow," DaRosa said. "It just happens that in the summertime we're forming those relationships through biking. But our hope is that those relationships start on the bike and then continue through the winter season and then really turn into friendships and family relationships just like with many of our ski clients."
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