Vail books: Ski instructors tell their stories |

Vail books: Ski instructors tell their stories

Allen R. SmithSpecial to the Vail DailyVail, CO Colorado
Vail books: Allen R. Smith's "Ski Instructor's Confidential" is full of funny stories from the lives of ski instructors from all over ski country

VAIL, Colorado – The Vail Daily is serializing Allen R. Smith’s book of on-mountain anecdotes from ski instructors. The book is called “Ski Instructor’s Confidential.” Copies of the book can be purchased at The Bookworm of Edwards or at sample of the anecdotes will be published in the Vail Daily a few times each week. Below is the book’s introduction:I took my first ski lesson more than forty years ago. Our high school ski club was offering a special beginner’s package: equipment rental, lessons, rope tow ticket, a bus ride to Table Mountain and a chance to meet girls; all for $9. I couldn’t resist.So, every day after school, a dozen of us clomped around on the grass behind the men’s gym, learning how to side step, herringbone and kick turn, wearing hickory skis that towered over our heads. That weekend, we piled into a school bus for the two-hour ride to the local mountains. Just as our bus pulled into the parking lot, our ski instructor rolled up in his fire engine red Porsche with a gorgeous blonde at his side.That’s when I decided to become a ski instructor. I’ve taken a lot of lessons since those days. I’ve also given a few. And over the years, my love affair with skiing and the profession of ski teaching has never stopped growing.Whether you’re introducing the sport to a group of beginners or leading your favorite clients through a glade of Aspens, the thrill is unparalleled. No other profession can lay claim to better views from your office, such enthusiastic clients or more fun-loving colleagues.These are some of the stories that professional ski instructors swap at the end of the day. They represent literally hundreds of years of teaching experience. Some of these adventures occurred as recently as last winter. Others, more than 60 years ago. The great thing about good ski stories is they remain timeless.The inspiration for this book came accidentally while I was sitting in a large conference room, waiting for annual pre-season meetings to start. I was seated at a small table with six other ski instructors. To kill time, one instructor started to tell a hilarious story of one of his past teaching experiences. This was followed by another story, and another; each better than the one before. I began to think what a shame it was that the only people enjoying these tales were the seven of us in this small corner of the world. How many other great stories were being told in other meeting rooms across the country? There must be thousands.So, I went to work compiling an exhaustive list of some of the most experienced ski teachers across the country. Through their generosity, I managed to come up with over 160 adventures from Alaska to Vermont; from the 1940’s to the present.The stories that follow are organized into seven chapters, each dealing with a particular aspect of the sport of alpine skiing.Chapter one, Mid-mountain Misadventures, contains a collection of skiing adventures; everything from getting to the top of the mountain to just making it down alive. Chapter Two, Thermals and Other Fashion Statements, addresses the importance of looking good on the slopes and the steps we take to make sure that we do. Chapter Three, Cool Kids and Cranky Parents, is a hysterically honest presentation of how children perceive the skiing experience. Chapter Four, The Motel 6 & the Sommelier, entertains us with apres-ski legends: food, drink and entertainment. Chapter Five, School Dazed, is an entertaining look at the profession of ski teaching from the perspective of the professional instructor.Chapter Six, Obsessions with Alpine Equipment, provides the reader with a peek at what skiers endure with their skiing hardware. And finally, Chapter Seven, Slides, Crashes & Other Feats of Gravity, is a testament to what it takes to remain vertical on a pair of snow skis.When I finished compiling the collection of stories in this book, I regretted that I didn’t have time to visit every one of the more than 350 ski schools across the country and spend an hour or two, individually, with all of their instructors.I know that I’ve missed some wonderful stories. So many ski schools; so little time. If, you’re a ski teaching professional and you’d still like to share some of your memories, there’s still time! Ski Instructor’s Confidential – Volume II is already in the planning stages. If you’ve missed your 15 minutes of fame and would like to share some of your humorous skiing experiences with the world, you may send them to me at the following address (regular or E-mail):Allen R. SmithP.O. Box 3852Vail, CO

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