Ski Instructors Confidential: Rider is a ‘board-faced’ liar |

Ski Instructors Confidential: Rider is a ‘board-faced’ liar

Allen R. Smith
Special to the Vail Daily
Vail, CO Colorado

Since the evolution of snowboarding, an unspoken rivalry has taken place on the slopes as skiers compete for their rightful place against the new kids on the block. While truly a fine sport, snowboarding has still not been completely embraced by many old-school alpine skiers.

A friend of mine, who was already a very accomplished alpine skier, decided that she wanted to learn how to snowboard. During her first morning on the board, she cautiously inched her way down the beginner’s slope attempting the most rudimentary of movements.

About midway down the hill, she came face to face with another woman on skis that appeared to be her snow sports equal. As one woman would creep down, the other would follow. As one would move right, the other would follow suit.

After several minutes of unsuccessfully trying to avoid each other, the woman on skis finally lost her composure and yelled at my friend, “You damned snowboarders! You’re always in the way!”

Forgetting where she was and what she was doing, my friend instinctively yelled back, “I am not a snowboarder!”

– Katie Gaylord, Vail

Many years ago, I was ski school director at the Red River Resort in New Mexico. Red River was a miniscule ski area that ran on a small but efficient staff.

In the days before modern grooming, we only had two snow cats to pack the snow and one of them was usually on the fritz. We also had at our disposal a large contingent of migrant workers at the resort who made up the packing and grooming crews.

While usually meaning well, the migrant workers were notoriously unreliable when it came to showing up for work. One day they would show up, the next day they wouldn’t.

One morning, we had over 6 inches of new snow, so I thought to myself, “I’d better get up early and plan on running the snow cat myself or we won’t be ready to open on time.”

When I prepared to board the Snow cat, I was warned by the maintenance foreman that the cat had a peculiar habit of unexpectedly quitting. He suggested that I bring along my skis in case I needed to get back down “on foot.”

After several hours of packing the freshly fallen snow, I decided to head back down to the bottom of the mountain. Sure enough, without warning, “boom!” The snow cat lurched to an abrupt halt, miles from nowhere.

After a number of futile attempts at starting the cat, I decided to leave it where it was and head down on skis. Looking down at my feet, I realized that I was wearing my after-ski boots and had neglected to bring along my conventional ski boots.

Contemplating my situation for a few moments, I adjusted the bindings to my after-ski boots and headed down the mountain. On my way down, I passed an instructor teaching a class of intermediate skiers.

Being the ever-present public relations man that a ski school director should be, I stopped by the class to say hello and to introduce myself. While chatting with the instructor, I noticed another class further down and headed over to schmooze with them for a few moments.

At the end of the day, I ran into the two instructors down in the locker room. I asked them, “Say, did you happen to notice anything unusual about my equipment today when I was talking to your group?” The two instructors looked at each other quizzically and answered, “No, not really. Why?”

So, I told them, “I skied all the way down the mountain and stood in front of your class wearing after-ski boots.”

The two morals of the story: First, if you’re really a great skier, it doesn’t matter what type of boots you wear.Second, ski instructors are not as observant as they think they are.

– Eric Windisch, Vail

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