It’s certainly something all of us have experienced as we go to clinics at new places, and local instructors show us how to ride the mountain, and where to get the best breakfast burrito. – Chris Rogers

the intangibles of teaching. Public Relations Director Mike Chait spent a decade directing the area’s snowboard program, where, he said, he “set out to create a culture amongst our staff that kindles the local connection to the mountain, far beyond just bars, or food. Thinking more along the lines of the stuff you don’t typically learn through teaching, but rather through experiencing.” Now that welcome-to-the-club concept is available in any lesson.

= common method for measuring a skier for cants, using a plumb bob. It’s mechanically equivalent to the method shown in the Ude quem in

As Chait said, “Whether kids or adults, everyone deserves to ski or ride the hill like a local. We don’t worry about bringing students into our ‘secret’ stashes. We encourage it.” For skiers and riders who simply need a little help picking a line

through the trees, there are clinics with coaches who can also explain the how and why of gladed terrain. Chait said, “Oliver Blackman is Smugglers’ resident forester, and he loves sharing the knowledge of how he cuts these trails while remaining sustainable and eco- friendly.” On the snowboard side, the standout is Lance Pitcher. “We joke

about selling a product specifically called the ‘Lance Pitcher Experi- ence,’ or LPE for short,” Chait said. “Lance works with all ages, but all of his interactions include the things often overlooked by the average guest, such as, ‘Where is the wind blowing and how does that affect the snow?’ Or, ‘How do we adjust our approach to picking lines when the snow is deep vs. firm and fast?’ “Smugglers’ snow school philosophy is to kindle the same love

for winter exploration and culture that we as coaches manifest in our own experiences,” Chait said. “We have also experimented with programs specific to teaching snow sense, compass skills, and reading terrain and weather. What we found is that guests are more interested in us injecting this sort of information into their lesson as we help them to become stronger skiers and riders.”

DEEPER CONNECTIONS WITH COLLEAGUES TOO Along with offering a more in-depth lesson experience than simply helping a student edge earlier in a turn, sharing local knowledge could be a key way to attract more advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders to lessons. Especially when they’re first visiting an area they have never ridden. “It’s certainly something all of us have experienced as we go to clinics at new places, and local instructors show us how to ride the mountain, and where to get the best breakfast burrito,” said AASI Snowboard Team member Chris Rogers. “And we all love to share our favorite places with visit- ing instructors as well – everybody leading tours of their favorite hole-in-the-wall spots.” Rogers, who is the training manager for the Vail Ski & Snowboard

Chris Rogers

School, said that sharing local knowledge is one of the main reasons instructors get repeat clients, “Because we connect them back to the story of where they are, so they feel more a part of it, too. And they keep coming back because they know they can learn more.” Aspen instructor Kevin Jordan said that

The bottom line? Instructors – who spend more time with guests than any other resort employee – have the ability to RffHU LQYDOXDEOH DGYLFH RQ WHUUDLQ DQG PDNH HYHU\ JXHVW ZDQW to come back for more.

for the local information to work, it does have to be the kind of thing instructors would share with other pros. “Like how to do lunch in Vail or Aspen for $10,” Jordan said.

Catching the two instructors on the phone as they Kevin Jordan

drove to a clinic in Taos, the talk quickly veered off into a list of best places for margaritas, craft beer, and enchiladas. Rogers, who has been a big propo- nent of using local knowledge as a way to create a deeper connection with

34 | 32 DEGREES • SPRING 2019




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