19 Mar 2013, 4:48pm
Colorado Skiing & Snowboarding Telluride The Rockies:
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All in the Day of a Ski Instructor

Avalanche Control Work Done in the Heart of Telluride Late February

Whoa, what a busy ski season it has been! I can’t believe it has been over a month since I last posted a story. If you’ve followed my blog and read my bio, you know that I’m a ski instructor at the Telluride Ski & Snowboard School. This year has been especially busy for me for a variety of reasons, largely because although we had a slow start, we’ve had some great snow here in Telluride this season. (So much so, in fact, that they had to bomb Ajax the big mountain at the far end of town as you can see in the two photos included in this post.) And when the snow comes, so do the skiers.

I completed a twenty-five day stint of working as an instructor early March, then had a couple days off before the first big wave of spring breakers arrived. After another eight days in a row, I felt pooped—utterly exhausted. I checked out for a few days to catch up on rest, laundry and other necessities of life and now I’m back for round two of the hectic spring break crowd.

It looks as though we’ll be busy here in Telluride through the end of the season, especially since Easter lands on March 31st. Fortunately we have a lot of snow remaining—some of the best in Colorado—so we should be able to keep vacationers happy until the mountain closes April 7.


More Bombing in Our Little Mountain Town

You might be wondering how is it that someone works on the mountain over three weeks in a row? Well, that’s just the way it is and it’s not at all unusual. Many ski and snowboard instructors keep crazy schedules. We work day after day—up to eight hours a day in our boots enduring the howling cold and blistering sun—during long periods of time, particularly throughout vacation weeks. January, on the other hand, is dreadfully slow. (We do a lot of training then, as much as fifty plus hours for many including myself.) Typically one third of our business comes all at once in March.

Most private lessons are booked in advance, especially if a client requests a particular instructor, usually someone they’ve worked with before. It’s really all about relationships. We work hard to keep our clients—whether it be one or more persons (typically a family)—safe and happy. Various measures of ski instruction are provided according to each client’s desires. It’s really about finding the right person that’s going to carry you and your party through the day or half day or in many instances, an entire week. It’s about finding someone that jives with your needs and style, a friendly, capable person that’s going to make your whole ski experience as seamless as possible. Whether that’s about showing you how to get down your first black or making sure your kids are content and out of harm’s way, ski and snowboard instructors are the cheerleaders/master organizers/teachers that transform your time on and off the hill.

Dave Brown, a Top Instructor, and Me

Pancho Winter, Another Top Telluride Ski & Snowboard Instructor

By now, you’re probably thinking that I’m sounding way too boastful. Believe me when I say that most of us are outputting well over 100 watts all day long, so that the client doesn’t have to sweat it. From the lift line, to your first push down Nastar to your prompt arrival at the lunch date with the other ten people in your group on the other side of the mountain, we try to give the expression “no worries” added meaning. We practically have eyes in the back of our heads to shield clients from “the crazies” on the slopes and enough good sense and knowledge of the mountain to take folks down just the right trail at just the right time of the day. We are zee ambassadeurs extraordinaires.

OK, now for the most heroic ski instructor story of the year (so far). Last week one of our top instructors actually stitched up his bloodied and gashed finger himself. That’s right—with a needle and a thread and only a bunch of margaritas (at the end of the day) for painkillers. He’d jammed his finger in a binding just before picking up his clients and had no time to waste at the Medical Center. He didn’t call Ski Patrol since they would have sent him there as well and reporting the incident would have forced him to pass on his lesson, something that a truly loyal ski instructor wouldn’t think of doing! Well, I’m not cut from that cloth—yikes, I can’t stand the thought of blood let alone the idea of piercing my own skin with a needle. I have, however, done my best to show up bright and cheery for my clients and give them as close to 100% as possible. I know that many of us from this unique club of sorts take the same approach. As for our wounded hero, so far so good; he seems to have been spared any nasty repercussions including infection.

So if you’re thinking about taking a lesson, you still have two and a half weeks to do so at the Telluride Ski & Snowboard School. Or, you can plot your strategy for next year. For the busy weeks and the most in-demand instructors, bookings typically begin in July.

If you’re not looking to take a lesson, know that some of the best fun is to be had on the mountain from now until closing. You can go off and ski the Plunge, our renowned trail which is normally groomed every other day—one of the longest steeps in the country. Or partake in one of the many activities planned to close out the season. This year the celebrations are especially plentiful since Telluride Ski Resort is celebrating its fortieth anniversary. Spring always brings lots of colorful attire, Mardi Gras beads and crazy costumes, however, this year promises to be extra fun. Check out the schedule of day and après-ski events here.

As I discussed with my hunny, an avid skier, last weekend, we’d both be happiest if we could turn the calendar back to say December 19th. We actually say that to each other every year. Indeed, we’re sad to see the season come to an end here in Telluride, yet we plan to live it to its fullest to the last day.

And then there’s Aspen, Vail, Beaver Creek and who knows where else to explore? Those resorts and many others stay open way into April and there’s still lots of fun skiing to be enjoyed. I hope you can get in on some of it, too.

Fellow Instructor Meegan Fields with Her Triplets and My Little Guy

My Ski Buddy and Me on Top of the Mountain

For more information on Telluride, go to VisitTelluride.com.

Thank you to fellow instructor Madison Foley for the shots of the avalanche control work on Ajax. Thank you also to Pancho Winter, Meegan Fields and Dave Brown for furnishing and/or appearing in the above images.

Please like the Telluride Ski & Snowboard Facebook page to keep up with some of our doings.

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