19 Apr 2015, 5:40pm
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Girl Power Extraordinaire: Women from the Telluride Ski & Snowboard School, Part One

Marti, Cristina and Me on a Ski Break

Marti, Cristina and Me on a Ski Break

As I ease into off-season mode, I find myself almost sentimental about all the camaraderie I share at Telluride Ski & Snowboard School. Indeed, I’m now shifting into a more solitary existence, left to fend for myself–as a lone freelance writer–instead of being part of the team that helps to make magic at Telluride Ski Resort. Within Ski School, we’re very much like a family; we’re part of a tribe that speaks the same language and shares many of the same passions even though we are a mix of astonishingly unique human beings.

The women at Telluride Ski & Snowboard School feel like sisters to me and over the years I’ve come to love many of them in my own special way. They are strong, beautiful ladies that radiate a sense of well-being that’s surely the envy of many. They’ve chosen a lifestyle that embraces the outdoors and the physical and a profession that focuses on how to share their remarkable love of the mountains with others. These gals are hot–not so much from what they wear (although a new pair of shades is always remarked). But rather their sizzle comes from how they turn their skis and boards; or even better, from the self assuredness that those skills give them, on and off the slopes. They exude a self confidence and authenticity far superior to anything you might see on the runway or red carpet. Solid and grounded, our band of Telluride Ski & Snowboard instructors serve as terrific role models for women of all ages.

There are many gals that standout at Ski School. So I thought it would be fun to start highlighting them in posts here at my blog, a series that I plan to continue next year. This lineup is by no means all-inclusive. The idea is to spotlight some of the girl power in our special club and also perhaps to provide a few beauty tips along the way.

Marti Martin-Kunz

Marti Martin-Kunz Striking a Pose

Marti Martin-Kuntz

With almost forty years as a ski instructor at Telluride, this former pro ski racer ranks as one of the most revered veterans of our school. Originally from northern California, Marti comes across as so sweet and serene, it’s hard to imagine she has the kind of stuff it takes to charge down a mountain at break-neck speed. She once told me though that she craves speed; and in during the same conversation, I learned about her meditation practice. Go figure. In terms of beauty, she says “it starts from the inside out for me. What you eat, what you think, that’s what’s important. Beauty is your state of mind. I focus a lot on gratitude, too.”  She uses natural sunscreens such as Super Salve, from New Mexico. “I make my own skin lotion as well” Marti says. “I put all the yummy stuff into it including lots of aloe.” I knew their was a secret because Marti certain has logged many hours outside beneath the intense sun, wind, cold and dry air and her skin belies her age. “I believe in dimming the lighting in the bathroom, too,” she tells me with a wink.

Marti runs Details of Telluride, a custom-accommodation business, when she’s not on the slopes.

Ursula Acurio in the Locker Room

Ursula Acurio in the Locker Room

Ursula Acurio

Peruvian-born Ursula Acurio has taught skiing in Telluride for almost two decades. “When I think of beauty, I think of a fine person on all levels,” she says. “It includes camaraderie, friendship, support–that’s the beauty you see within the women of Telluride Ski & Snowboard School.” She credits her smooth, olive skin with genetics and wraparound sunglasses. She enjoys the freedom of not wearing makeup on the mountain and feels that it reflects the life we live, which is as she says, “simple, uncomplicated and down-to-earth. But we all wear a little bit of something,” she adds. It’s true–whether it’s lip gloss or eyeliner, many have their signature touch. I’ve always admired Ursula’s fun-loving, upbeat attitude, especially coming from someone that’s constantly out there teaching. So I had to ask Ursula how she manages to shine some one hundred days a year ski instructing. “Good wine and sex,” she told me in her fiery South American manner. Then when she saw my astonishment, she added, “Sometimes just good wine.”

Ursula works as an architect and enjoys globetrotting once the mountain closes.

Adrienne at Lineup

Adrienne at Lineup

Adrienne Christy

Born and raised in Colorado, Adrienne has been skiing since she was three. “It’s been my favorite thing to do for as long as I can remember,” she says. She fulfilled a lifelong dream of sorts a couple of years ago by becoming a ski instructor in Telluride and has been rapidly excelling in the realm of professional skiing ever since. She’s a classic beauty that strives to keep her fair skin protected by being forever aware of sunscreen applications and reapplications. She struggles to keep her long blond locks from being knotted up by the wind, an especially tall order in Adrienne’s case because I’ve witnessed her zooming down the slopes at lightning speed. “I enjoy the kindness and love I feel from the women at Ski School,” she tells me. “And I like how it’s combined with an element of strength, something I haven’t found anywhere else,” she continues. “I appreciate the fact that most of the women can rip and hang with the good ‘ole boys,” she adds with a chuckle. “Women have advanced a lot in this field but it’s still predominantly a male-dominated industry.”

Adrienne works in the world of nonprofits when she’s not out ripping it up on the slopes.

Cindy in Civilian:  A Rare Occurrence

Cindy in Civilian: A Rare Occurrence

Cindy Smith

I first met Cindy over eleven and a half years ago when I did the Ski College in Telluride, the first step for most toward becoming an instructor on our mountain. Originally from upstate New York, Cindy has been a part of almost every hiring clinic from the beginning, and for many–as was the case for me–Cindy becomes the face of Telluride. This super pro, mother of two is ebullient; her enthusiasm for life and the mountain just glows. “It’s magic that feeling of belonging,” Cindy tells me regarding the new hires and the overall Ski School vibe. She’s experienced a lot in her thirty-five years of teaching in T-ride and I’m sure she’s become a mentor for most of the women that have been a part of Ski School. Her role model has been Annie Vareille-Savath, the doyenne of Telluride Ski & Snowboard School, whom I hope to feature in this series as well. “Early on, we all admired Annie,” Cindy says. “Because she was a woman tough as nails and feminine at the same time.” Over drinks, Cindy told me about the women of Telluride Ski & Snowboard School in the early days. “I was so aggro. I had to do the steepest, the gnarliest runs,” she continues with that characteristic glint in her eye. We chatted about how Cindy hopes to teach into her eighties albeit with perhaps a reduced schedule that might involve half days of yoga/half days of skiing. I can tell she’s a regimented gal and attributes her form to a morning bath five to six times a week followed by twenty minutes of PT or stretching before she hits the slopes. She uses goggles for maximum eye protection and long ago gave up skiing in sunglasses. To preserve her skin, she swears by skincare products prescribed by her dermatologist for the past decade. “Oh,and heated seats in your car work wonders, too,” she adds.

During fair weather, you can find Cindy at the Telluride Ski & Golf golf course where she has worked for fifteen years.

Lindsay:  Our Little Shredder

Lindsay: Our Little Shredder

Lindsay Mersereau

Fresh-faced Lindsay from Flower Mound, Texas has worked as a snowboard instructor for four seasons in Telluride. Her locker is just down from mine and I’ve often found myself admiring her beautiful ringlets of hair. She starts the day looking like she just stepped out of the hair salon, a real rarity in our world wear hat/helmet hair reigns supreme. “I have naturally really curly hair,” she tells me. “I just touch it and twirl it on my finger after I towel it dry each night after my shower. No product, no curling iron. It does get pretty knotty by the end of the day but then I just brush it out and start over.” It sounds rather high maintenance for a gal that is super down-to-earth. But the look is oh-so natural and so adorable that it would even make me want to take a snowboard lesson from her. “Look good, feel good, do good, that’s my philosophy toward beauty,” Lindsay tells me. That’s what my friend, Maggie, (a fellow ski instructor) says. “Be confident with what you’ve been given, Lindsay continues. “I think a lot of women worry too much about the outside appearance and don’t focus enough on the inside. I like being very social and interacting with others–that’s what fuels me.”

As soon as the snow melts, Lindsay is out river guiding and leading many teen adventure trips.

Cristina on Our Ski Break

Cristina on Our Ski Break

Cristina Candido

Originally from Bariloche, Argentina, Cristina has been one of the top ski instructors in Telluride for fifteen years. She works a lot with kids and I’ve always held her boundless enthusiasm and energy in great esteem. Clearly Cristina derives much of her sense of well-being from the mountain. “When I feel like I’m a little down, the healing part is going outside,” Cristina says. “I tell myself how I want to feel. I coach myself. Even if I feel sick, I go outside and I feel better. If you do what you love, it invigorates you.”

In the summer, Cristina often works in Argentina–during their winter–as a ski instructor.

Ursula in Some Fresh Pow

Ursula in Some Fresh Pow

To be continued next season!

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