Variety, the spice of life | VailDaily.com
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Variety, the spice of life

Cassie Pence

BEAVER CREEK – What did the ski instructor say in the last two minutes of his two hour ski lesson?That’s enough about me. Tell me about you.”Ski instructors are all performers in a sense,” said Ken Wander, who teaches skiing, snowboarding and disabled skiing at Beaver Creek. “Up on the hill every day we’re entertaining people.”So it wasn’t a surprise to Wander or Scott Loss, a fellow instructor, when they threw out the idea of hosting a ski instructor talent night at the Vilar Center that 20 interested people signed on to participate.”We tend to be ego-centric,” said Loss, who with Wander is co-producing “Talent Beyond the Slopes,” happening tonight at 7:30 at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek.The purpose of the show, Wander and Loss said, is to showcase the depth of talent they’ve discovered among their co-instructors from years of working together and getting to know one another. “I’ve seen a lot of my favorite performers on stage at the Vilar,” Loss said. “It’s always been my life long dream to perform on that stage with my friends, in front of my friends.”Loss will perform an instrumental song on his mandolin, as well as an original folk ballad about the railroads becoming extinct.”I like folk music because it tells a story,” Loss said.Wander will sing “Insane,” by Damien Rice with a trio of guitar playing instructors accompanying him. “I’ve been doing open mic nights around town for years now,” Wander said. “No one has told me I suck so bad to stop playing, so I’m going to keep on doing it because it makes me happy.”Skiing teacher Fernando Contreras of Chile will sit in with other musicians in the show to play his flute. He taught himself the instrument by ear when he was a young boy. He said he only plays improvisation and never the same song twice.”My ski coach played the flute very well,” Contreras said. “I really liked the sound, and I liked its small size because you can carry it all over the world. I made my first flute from a ski pole.””Talent Beyond the Slopes” will also feature professional pianist and ski instructor Steve Szindler, who performs around town and also teaches piano.”I’ve been playing for more than 40 years,” Szindler said. “It’s my primary profession, but I can’t make enough money at it in the valley.”Music is the bulk of the show, but instructors will also perform comedy, sketch skits and magic. Szindler’s son, Aaron, 14, will perform a short stand-up routine. Ski instructor Ryan Miller, who also owns his own production company in California, will emcee the show and perform magic tricks in between acts.The upper and lower lobby of the Vilar Center will display works of art created by instructors ranging from pottery to paintings to wood block printing. “This is not Lip Sync, the variety show the ski instructors used to put on,” Wander said. “This is real talent, real people getting up there and performing. I hope to make it an annual show.”Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14640, or cpence@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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