I have been a ski instructor for over 15 years. I originally started teaching skiing for strictly selfish reasons. I really wanted to test my skills and force myself to get out of the valley/corporate world and ski more, not to mention it scared me a bit too. I broke my leg in a skiing accident when I was 12. I was in a cast for over a year, all the way up to my hip for most of the time.
I was recently divorced and really needed an activity to clear me head… something I once loved, but only actually took advantage of 2 or 3 times year. So I took the advise of a friend and tried out for the Brighton School. I made it, then the work began..
What I found was a group of funky personalities that were all there for some of the same reasons that I was.. to ski, or so I thought at the time. Everyone has a story, and I happened to fit in to this “island of misfit toys” as we still joke about. The lessons learned, the lessons taught have changed my life forever..
The personalities, the camaraderie, the sheer physical challenge and the scenery is what we all come back for every year. If you’ve ever been in the mountains for a hike or a family get together, or even just a ride through the mountains and felt that deep sense of comfort and well-being.. you might understand. In fact I haven’t met a person yet that doesn’t talk about how much they love the mountains. It’s the clean air, the beauty, the peace it brings.. and the spiritual sense of being centered.. or at least wanting to find center.
My life of skiing started at a young age. My father was a university professor working on his PhD. in Worcester Massachusetts. His studies took him all over the world. After one such trip, he brought home skis from Poland. These were basic wood skis with a floppy canvas binding. The toes of your boot would be secured to the ski binding with a strap, but the heel was allowed to move freely up and down. Kind of a modified cross-country ski… but much cheaper in design. Winters in Massachusetts were cold and brutal.. but we didn’t care. My brother and I couldn’t wait to strap on those skis and glide down the big hill behind our apartment complex. We lived in student/low-income housing with hundreds of other families making the most of life.
My brother was fearless in every sense of the word. So I saw an opportunity to build jumps and dare him to go off them. The bigger the jump, the higher up the hill we had to go. The higher up the hill we went, the faster and farther we would travel. It was awesome! Being the big brother, it was duty to build the jump and have the younger.. more expendable brother test it. After he successfully landed the jump and lived, then I would try it. Neither one of us knew the first thing about controlling our skis.. meaning, stopping and turning happen more from emergency aversion and building avoidance. You know, the basics.
Fast-forward several years.. we’re living in Northern Utah. It’s Winter and snow is dumping!! We weren’t rich by any means, my Dad was a professor at USU who also doubled as our little league football coach, city councilman and very involved in our church. Needless to say he was a busy guy. I don’t remember skiing a lot with my Dad or Mom.. but I do remember riding “the ski bus” and skiing at Beaver Mountain in Logan. My brother Robyn came with me several times.. and we had a blast! Robyn never liked to slow down or turn… He’d “point them and go”.. straight down the hill. Usually stopping by hitting someone or having an amazing fall that always got a round of applause… we now call this a ‘yard sale’.
The irony is, I took ski lessons one year and broke my leg just before one of those lessons. It was a long spiral break that cracked from my knee all the way down the tibia to my ankle with about an inch separation high up on the bone. A bad break..
My recovery took about a year. A painful year that included a teacher that would come to my house to bring me homework from the school. You see, the Junior High I attended was three stories with no elevators. After getting the release to go back to school, I remember falling down the stairs a few times. It was a painful year..
Fast-forward again to 1996… I needed to face my fear of being injured skiing and just go for it. I thought teaching skiing would give me the incentive and technique to stay with it face my demons. I had no idea what I was about to learn….. about skiing AND life…