Adventures In Ski School


One of the 2 positions I have taken on here in Park City is working for a ski school as an assistant instructor. It is all of the fun, skiing all day, and constantly switching around between every class and child. While I haven’t always been the fondest of children, especially as they scream and cry and smell bad, ski school is another story. I get to watch these kids experience every feeling, moment, and success that I did as I learned to ski. Even better, I get to be a part of it. Every single day, I get a new memory or story that I can smile and laugh about forever. I have only worked as a ski instructor assistant for a week now, but the highlight reel is already filling up…

Kids struggle on the chairlifts, especially when they are not tall enough to get on in the first place. As I spent the day with a little girl, riding with her each time she got on the chairlift, her pants would start to slide off as she scooted on. I would turn to her and say, “Don’t worry, we will get it all fixed once we get off! You made it on to the chair, so we can celebrate that.” She would giggle in agreement and start telling me more about her favorite cat at home. About the fifth time we get on the chair, she looks over with wide eyes and squeals in delight that her pants didn’t fall down. She then looks over at me with a straight face and says, “You know its a good day when your pants stop falling down.”
Well said, my 7 year old friend. Now that is certainly a silver lining!

Pizza and French Fries
A classic way of teaching the little ones to ski is the pizza and french fries mentality with their skis. They can learn that basic stop and go as well as a level of control to start learning to turn and such. The biggest challenge is keeping their attention when there is something better out there. In this particular situation, it was 100 ft tall machinery with a long arm that kept swinging back and forth carrying items for the construction men. This was grabbing my attention with how cool it looked, so I can’t imagine how difficult it was for six 7 year olds to ignore it. So, as I skied behind the class as they practiced their new ability to turn, watching them watch the big machinery.
Pizza turn, french fries across the hill, pizza, french fries, pizza, french fries, ditch! One little girl was so entranced by the machine that she stopped watching where she was turning and looked at the machine again. Instead of turning, her skis followed her eyes and attention and skied right in to a ditch! This was not just any ditch, It was about 4 feet long surrounded by 20 feet of groomed trail in every direction. This is a very difficult ditch to ski in to, but also very easy to notice. But whether its chasing butterflies or watching giant machinery, kids will ski anywhere!

The Mascot
Kids love mascots. When you are the mascot, you get bum rushed in every direction by children saying hi, giving hugs, and telling you how much they love you. It’s a cool feeling. I have ALWAYS been curious about what it would be like to be the mascot anywhere. I hear it’s hot, fun, smelly, boring, cool, funny, awesome, etc.. Well, I finally got to see for myself when the offer came up to ski down a mountain in a mascot costume, then go through a skiing parade with the kids. That doesn’t sound so hard, right? Wrong. Once I got the costume on, I established a few of the truths I had heard: Hot, yes. Smelly, no. Funny, yes (after all, I was so big as a bear that I couldn’t fit in a chair!). The visibility went a little like this: I couldn’t see my skis at all without tipping over. I couldn’t see in front of me unless I tipped my head back to look through the tiny little hole that was supposed to be my vision. What could I see, you might ask? I could see a little patch of white snow that the person in front of me passed through from time to time!
The chairlift was the next ordeal. As I was so wide, only one other person could fit on the lift to hold me on and talk me through when to sit and stand since I couldn’t see anything anyways. That person, thankfully, was my boss. He would make it all seem easy, right? He did, at first. He explained where we were going where to ski, what to watch for (haha, as if I could see) and told me once again that I was not allowed to growl at the children. As if I wasn’t getting nervous, my boss chose that time to look at me and say “Uhhh, I really hope you can ski.”
Then it was all a rush. I skied, I hugged, I waved, I was cheered for, I rode the chairlift, I skied in the parade, I hugged, I waved, and then I went back to the office to go back to normal. What a ride. I didn’t fall, thankfully. I also had to trust my feet, my skis, and my balance. Skiing blind is extremely difficult, but it was one of the most fun experiences I have had in my life. I got to ski down the mountain as a giant bear! It would have been cool to be allowed to growl, but I suppose I can deal with that.

That being said, there’s one week of the life working for a ski school. I can see why people go in to teaching. I don’t have the patience for that; but, on a pair of skis, I love every minute of it.

From somewhere new, Jess

Skiing as a BearMy Life As A Bear

Here are a few shots of my life as a giant bear… 😉


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