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During my first year of teaching skiing (1988) I rode up the lift with a gentleman around the age of 60. I was skiing at Bear Mountain (formerly Goldmine) in Southern California. It was 7 minutes of my life that could have just as well been a dream. He said to me:
“Do you enjoy what your are doing?” Yes, I love it.
“Are you any good at skiing?” I’m ok, but getting better.
“Do you get paid well doing it?” $5.50/hr… so not really.
I taught and worked in guest services at Bear Mtn for a few more years during winter breaks and winter weekends. Graduated College and then sold a business I had grown during college. The sale of that business financed my move to Colorado, and helped subsidize a few years. I had a list of goals and Breckenridge met most of them. The top of my list: Excellent training staff, many students to teach, and property to buy.
The first year in Colorado I earned my PSIA Full Certification (Level 3). Within 4 years I had become a staff trainer, and by 1999 I earned my PSIA Accredited Trainer status (RMT). I did this for many reasons: Improve my teaching ability; teaching a greater variety lesson levels; and earning relatively high pay for a resort instructor.
I continue to do what I love, and I have taught nearly 20,000 hours of lessons and clinics. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I stayed in California, as I imagine my life would be radically different. But upon reflection I mostly appreciating the people I have met, and friends I have made. Primarily appreciating the things which I have learned and continue to share on the side of a mountain.
Colorado snow has been light this year, but the snow making crew has been providing. We have started receiving a few storm cycles in the Central Rockies, and that is helping quite a bit. I’ve been traveling a little for the powder days. Traveled to Monarch Ski Area last week for a day. They have received more snow this week as well. I am looking forward to planning a few MySnowPro.com trips this winter. Snowcat Trips to Monarch, Silverton, and Steamboat are in order.
I am looking forward to writing about skiing, ski teaching, and a day in the life of a ski instructor with my students. I was very actively writing a few years ago at Breckenridge while teach mostly upper level lessons and private lessons.
However the past two years teaching and training staff at Loveland, and raising two pre-teens didn’t allow me the time to do daily ski and ride posts.
This year I moved to Copper Mountain. This was a ski area that I have considered working with over the past 19 years. However I waited until the era of “Interwest” had passed. A real estate development company usually does not provide the best ski experience. However, with new and experienced ownership, Copper (2433 acres) is a “Momma Bear” mountain for me. “Papa Bear” Breckenridge (2031 acres) and the Publicly Traded “MTN” aka Vail Resorts had become spirit sucking place to work.
Baby Bear” Loveland (1570 acres) had the small mountain charm with family ownership. Copper Mountain is a family owned by a medium size privately held ski company POWDR.
Copper is a tremendous mountain with varied terrain (TRAIL MAP). Naturally divided starting from the base areas (Base Area MAP): West Villiage (easiest), Center Village (intermediate+), to East Village (Advanced+). And with the addition of the Union Creek express you can make it from one side to the other with one lift. My favorite terrain for “day off” and upper level skiing takes place in Copper Bowl, Union Bowl, Spaulding Bowl, and off the Resolution lift. I am looking forward to getting a snowcat ride up to the top of Tucker Mountain. Impressive acreage too!
At Breckenridge I specialized in advanced lessons (Private and Group), and Loveland I worked with advanced lessons and staff training.
At Copper I will be working a variety of age groups, and Group & Private lesson at Copper. And my previous students @ Breck will take lessons for 25% less at Copper Mtn. A relatively large percentage of the students book their lessons in advance at Copper.
This season I will be busy with Certification Training. Specifically I will be pursuing my Freestyle Accreditation, Children’s Specialist Accreditation, and a PSIA-RM Examiner position. I will document those pursuits as well. I look forward to sharing the season with you, and answering any question that you post as comments.
The season has been low on snow, but Copper has an impressive amount of terrain open. Thank you for following the journey.
I was fitted in the Breckenridge Surefoot store for my 2011/12 Surefoot Lange RX 130 boots (100mm last) with the Surefoot X2 liner and Surefoot insole. I thought I would offer a boot review for the RX 130.
I was told that I was the first Professional Ski Instructor in Colorado to get fitted for the X2. I arrived at 10:55am and was out of the shop with new boots, foamed liners and milled footbed by 11:50. Even better I was skiing Loveland Ski Area by 12:40.
Before we go further, it is important to know the best boot is the one which fits you. And the boot manufactures are doing a fine job of innovation. I have skied a number of boots between the 110-130 flex. I have a foot which fit well into Lange, but I have been adaptable.
I have been in the boots for 3 days and have skied hard pack and mushy combo snow, 14″ of powder, and moguls. I will giveaway the punchline… These are the best boots I have ever skied.
Two week update>> I have now had 10 days on the hill with them. They are still perfect. The fit is fantastic. They flex is firm but not rock hard stiff. I have played around with tightening down the buckles and it produces even higher performance and control on very hard snow. This is the best boot I have ever skied, and the 100mm width should fit a greater variety of feet when combined with the custom foam liner. Kudos to Lange, and the boot fitters at Surefoot.
They say nothing is free, but this is pretty darn close. If you are able to come to Breckenridge before December 18th. This is the deal. You can stay in a studio unit at the Grand Timber Lodge for No Cost on WEEKDAYS, and No Cost @ Breck Inn on Weekends.
What’s the catch? Breckenridge Grand Vacations is showing off their new lodge with a 2 hr tour walk-through Tour of the Grand Lodge on Peak 7 during the stay. If it seems like a fair trade, just print out the certificates below.
And if you mention my name (Jonathan Lawson) as an owner you will also get a Friends of owners “2-Day Pass” for the Grand Lodge on Peak 7 pools and hottubs. 866.476.2315
Rules, regulations, laws, and complexity. Since the birth of the constitution there has been no year with fewer laws than the previous year. Simply look at tax law, and realize that there is no one person who knows all the rules. These rules become so complex that it requires a professional to navigate the waters for us.
Wikipedia: Rookie is a term for a person who is in his or her first year of play of their sport or has little or no professional experience. »
When I was training for my PSIA Full Certification (Level 3) in 1993, and Trainer Accreditation (1999) I would watch good skiers for about 15 minutes every morning. Of course back then it was on VHS video tape. Now you can just bookmark this post and watch away. Some of the videos resembled what I used to watch.
Sometimes a story resonates with you. Gaining an understanding that things are not always what they appear, and accepting others at more than face value.
As she stood in front of her
primary 5 class on the very first day of school, she told the children an
Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils and
said that she loved them all the same.
However, that was impossible, because there in
the front row, slumped in
his seat, was a little boy named Koko Bassey.
Mrs.Thompson had watched Koko the year before
and noticed that he did not
play well with the other
children, that his clothes were messy and that he
constantly needed a bath. In addition,
Koko BASSEY could be unpleasant.
It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would
actually take delight
in marking his papers
with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and
then putting a big “F” at
the top of his papers.
At the school where Mrs. Thompson
taught, she was required to review each
child’s past records and she put Koko’s
off until last. However, when she reviewed
his file, she was in for a surprise.
Koko’s primary 1 teacher wrote, “Koko is a
bright child with a ready laugh.
He does his work neatly and has good manners…
he is a joy to be around.”
His primary 2 teacher wrote, “Koko is an
excellent pupil, well liked by his
classmates, but he is troubled
because his mother has a terminal illness
and life at home must be a struggle.”
His primary 3 teacher wrote, “His mother’s
death has been hard on
him. He tries to do his best, but his
father doesn’t show much
interest and his home life will soon
affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”
Koko’s primary 4 teacher
wrote, “Koko is withdrawn and doesn’t show much
interest in school. He doesn’t have many
friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.”
By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem
and she was ashamed of herself.
She felt even worse when her pupils
brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in
beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for
His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy,
brown paper that he got from
a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson
took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents.
Some of the children started
to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with
some of the stones missing, and a bottle
that was one-quarter full of perfume. But
she stifled the children’s laughter when
she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet
was putting it on, and dabbing some of the
perfume on her wrist.
Koko Bassey stayed after
school that day just long enough to say,
“Mrs. Thompson, today
you smelled just like my Mom used to.”
After the children left, she cried for at
least an hour. On that very day,
she quit teaching reading, writing and
arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach
children. Mrs. Thompson paid
particular attention to Koko. As she worked
with him, his mind seemed to come
alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he
By the end of the year, Koko had become one of
the smartest children in
the class and, despite her lie that she would
love all the children the same,
Koko became one of her “teacher’s
A year later, she found
a note under her door, from Koko, telling her that she was
still the best teacher he ever had in his whole
Six years went by before she got another note
from Koko. He then wrote that he had
finished secondary school, third in his
class,and she was still the best teacher
he ever had in his whole life.
Four years after that, she got another letter,
saying that while things had been tough at times,
he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it,
and would soon graduate from the university with the
highest of honors. He assured
Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher
he had ever had in his whole life.
Then four more years
passed and yet another letter came. This time he
explained that after he got his bachelor’s
degree, he decided to go a little further.
The letter explained that she was
still the best and favorite teacher he ever
had. But now his name was a little
longer….The letter was signed, Koko A. Bassey, MD.
The story does not end there. You see, there was
yet another letter that spring.
Koko said he had met this girl and was going to
be married. He explained that his father
had died a couple of years ago and he was
wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the
wedding in the place that was usually
reserved for the mother of the groom.
Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what?
She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones
Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the
perfume that Koko remembered his mother wearing
on their last Christmas together.They
hugged each other, and Dr. Bassey whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear,
“Thank you, Mrs. Thompson
for believing in me Thank you so much for making me feel
showing me that I could make a
Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered
back. She said, “Koko, you have it all wrong.
You were the one who taught me
that I could make a difference.
I didn’t know how to teach
until I met you.”
Warm someone’s heart today. . . pass this
along. Just try to make a difference in someone’s life today or
tomorrow. Just “do it”. Random acts of kindness, I
think they call it.
Find time to laugh… but not at the weaknesses
Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery,
Today is the present, so let’s call it a Gift!!!
And if you have another few minutes, listen to the Shia Story…