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Vail snowboarder passionate about family, students

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailySnowboard instructor Jeff Patterson " here with his wife, Kristina, and daughter, Hannah " died Monday after suffering a stroke. A memorial service for Patterson has not yet been scheduled.
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EAGLE-VAIL ” Jeff Patterson was hiking Vail Pass when he started arguing with a friend about how snowboarders should be taught.

Patterson and Mark “Spike” Eisenman started “poking each other around” when they lost their balance. They fell off a ridge and rolled down a hill and into some deep snow, said Eisenman, Beaver Creek Snowboard School manager.

The snowboard instructors laughed as they were stuck on their backs in the snow like turtles lying on their shells, Eisenman said.

“We were looking at each other like, ‘How are we going to get out of this situation?'” Eisenman said.

Patterson, 43, whose friends said he often laughed and argued, and was passionate about his family and teaching snowboarding, had stroke last Friday. He was flown to a Denver hospital but died Monday.

“He was really young and really healthy,” said Patterson’s friend, David Wilson.

Patterson and his wife, Kristina, had lived in the Vail Valley for 15 years. The Pattersons owned a landscaping company, Alpine Environments, and Patterson was a snowboard and ski instructor at Vail Mountain.

Patterson loved Kristina and his 11-year-old daughter, Hannah, friends and family said.

“His wife and daughter were more important to him than anything,” Wilson said.

Patterson used to call his wife and daughter constantly when he and Eisenman went to Lake Powell to wake surf. Patterson’s boat was designed to create a larger than normal wake so that Patterson and his friends could surf the wave directly behind the boat.

Once Patterson was trying to spin 360 degrees on his wake board and fell and hit his face on the boat’s deck, Wilson said. Patterson laughed about the slam and tried the trick several more times, he said.

“That was the kind of guy he was,” he said.

Six years ago, Patterson took his wife and then 4-year-old daughter to backpack in Europe for nine weeks during fall.

Dottie Patterson, Patterson’s mother, said she was against the vacation. The family had no hotel reservations ” just train tickets, and they were skipping work and school, she said.

But that was typical of Patterson: He lived life the way he wanted to live it, Dottie Patterson said.

“I don’t think many of us have the guts to try it, let alone do it,” she said.

The trip to Europe gave Hannah an “unbelievable set of memories,” she said.

“She remembers all of it, she really does,” she said.

Patterson rode his snowboard gracefully and was such a popular instructor, he was one of the most requested for private lessons, co-workers said.

Patterson had more than 100 days in requests each year, said Ray Sforzo, Vail’s first snowboard instructor.

Patterson was also a fully certified alpine ski instructor, he said.

“He was probably one of our better cross-discipline instructors,” he said.

Customers would say that Patterson’s passion for snowboarding and skiing made them more excited to do the sports, said Steve Holland, general manager for Vail Ski and Snowboard School in Vail Village.

“He was very passionate about taking care of his family and his customers, as well as his co-workers,” Holland said.

Patterson also taught instructors how to teach snowboarding and he worked his way to even higher ranks. Patterson was the first snowboarder to serve on the board of directors of the Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors, organizations that certify ski and snowboard instructors, co-workers said.

“It was quite a big feat at the time as far as being the first snowboarder to do that,” Eisenman said.

Patterson inspired Eisenman when the latter was learning how to snowboard, Eisenman said.

“We became friends from there because I wanted to learn how to snowboard like he did,” he said.

Patterson rode the terrain park as well, but his favorite was riding powder and trees in chutes under Vail Mountain’s Vista Bahn chair lift and in East Vail, as well as on Berthoud and Loveland passes, friends said.

“If it was fresh, we’d go find it,” Eisenman said.

Every year before Vail opened, Patterson liked to hike to the top of Vail Mountain and snowboard down.

During this October’s snow storms, Patterson hiked and rode the double-black diamond run Prima for four days with his friend, Sforzo said.

“At least we had some turns this year,” he said.

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.


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