Someone asked me the other day what was my favorite lesson to teach on the mountain. While your average person might assume that advanced classes are the best, I honestly hesitated for quite a while before responding. My eventual answer: “I don’t care what age or level a person might be, I just care that they want to be there. I just want someone who is passionate about this experience and excited to be on the mountain.”
I’ve taught my fair share of lessons. I’ve seen a bit of everything and everyone roll into ski school. I’ve taught beginners and experts, from the two-year-old who can barely stand in ski boots to the elderly woman to the ripping 16 year-old. And that’s just within the past three weeks.
There are no perfect students or perfect instructors. There is no “right” time to learn to ski, but the whole experience of a ski trip and the sense of accomplishment of learning a new skill can be phenomenal. Seeing the satisfaction on a person’s face as they reach some goal or have a pretty amazing run is fantastic, no matter which side of the lesson you are on. The 13 year-old beginner last week who was on the verge of tears after an hour but was beaming within three hours because she was linking turns down the rope tow was sensational. The middle aged man this weekend on intermediate terrain who felt more in control and less sore after his first day back this season made me feel accomplished. The five year-old ripper who runs up and hugs me every morning we ski together makes my heart melt.
I’ve been in more ski schools around the country as a kid than most people have ever been in their entire life. I’m not going to lie, I had my bad days, but the fact that 10 years later I can still talk about numerous instructors by name (Josh in Breckinridge and Chantal in Whistler, to name a few) should tell you a little bit about the memories these experiences created. My parents still talk about an instructor they skied with for three hours over five years ago. My brother (now 22) can name almost every one of his snowboard instructors by heart.
When my family reunites on holidays or vacations, some ski trip is almost always recounted. We talk about the barbeque place and the sushi restaurant in South Lake Tahoe. We joke about some eccentric mountain host in Vail and people marveling from the chair in Beaver Creek at my bump skiing at age six. We joke about my mom’s face swelling up from an allergic reaction to sunscreen and my parents bribing us to try oysters and duck liver. Without those numerous lessons, we wouldn’t have found secret stashes, favorite runs or amazing restaurants. I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything in the entire world. Every day when I go to work, I hope that I can help give even a fraction of that experience to someone else.
That’s what this is all about I think. It doesn’t matter whether you can ski the steepest chute on the mountain or if your pole plant is timed perfectly with your turn. It matters that you’re having fun, learning, and enjoying the people you’re with and experiencing what these fabulous places have to offer.
-Megan Roepke, Heavenly Adult Ski School Instructor
Guest post provided by our friends at Heavenly