Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Instructor of the Year 2008, Thanks to the Village!

At the end of last season at Bridger Bowl, I was lucky enough to receive an enormous honor, which I failed to blog about, as I left from our awards party straight for Academy, and then to Tryouts, and then right out into the Beartooth Wilderness.

I'm catching up on things today, and one very important thing I wanted to say is what an amazing honor it was to receive Bridger Bowl's prestigious "Instructor of the Year" award.

Up at Bridger, I am lucky to teach with a group of consummate professionals who are passionate about skiing, and fiercely loyal to Bridger Bowl. Many of them have been at Bridger more than thirty years!

Bridger is an amazing place, sort of the hidden gem of Montana, I feel, as its not a "destination" resort. But when people come and ski Bridger, they are amazed at the size, the variety of terrain, the incredible light fluffy low moisture content in the snow, and, yes, the enormous amount of double black diamond terrain off the entire ridge-line.

Bridger boasts an incredible array of steeps and chutes, short technical pitches, and this year, long, leg burning steeps with the addition of the Schlashmans terrain!

I feel an enormous debt to Bridger, as I would not even be on skis were it not for Dave Evans, our Snowsports Supervisor, and for the incredible, indepth training that Mike Hickey, and Josh Spuhler were willing to give me from day one. It is in a large part because of the community and challenging terrain at Bridger that I have been able to pursue my goals in skiing.

So I wanted to say thank you to Bonnie Hickey, my ski school director, for the huge honor of naming me Bridger Bowl's Instructor of the Year last season, and say thanks to a couple of people from Bridger who have helped me in the last two years go from out of control recreational skier to Instructor of the Year!

Bonnie Hickey:
Took a chance on me

Kurt Blunck:
Took me on as a training task willingly, and flipped me upside down in Jimmy B's, sort of officially initiating me into the insanity that is apres-ski Bridger Bowl style!

Karen Kirk:
Skied with me on my first day even though I was wearing make-up, had no goggles, and couldn't turn left. Our last day together was a rippin' trip down the fingers with her advanced ladies group. Thanks for hangin' in there, Karen!

Dave Evans:
Marched me into the office and signed me up to teach, gave me my PSIA L1, and took the fear out of beginning bumps for me.

Michael Hickey:
Agreed after I'd been on skis for about a month to train me for the Alpine Demonstration team. He then promptly took my poles away for three months and made me ski with my boots open so I'd find my balance myself.

Josh Spuhler:
Is the most consistently supportive friend a person could ask for. There certainly have been times in the last two years when people have said, what the HECK is she thinking? And Josh, aside from hours and hours of personal ski training, was there to tell me just to focus on what I need to do and not to listen to naysayers. I will never forget it.

Shannon Griffen:
Taught me just HOW specific we can be in pivot slips, just how important tasks are, and helped me get disciplined to the nth degree!

Ryan Stover:
Let me follow him around in the powder, giving me back a sense of play and a beautiful picture to follow!

Mason Griffen:
Toured me on the ridge all the time, let me follow him through this chute, around that tree and off this rock!

John Faunce:
Reminds me that it's more fun in the air, not just for me, but for the kids I teach, too, and gives the best bear hugs in the industry.

Jeff Abilain and Doug Monger:
Rescued me from self doubt about six weeks before I went from my level 3 last season, took me up on the ridge, and Doug taught me to stay on his tail while he went mach 6, while Jeff taught me the ins and outs of Ridge-specific skiing.

Angela Patnode:
Hauls me behind her on lots of back country expeditions, patiently watching the junk show get her s$$t together, and taught me how to pee while I'm on a steep pitch still in my skis... WOW, essential skill!

Missy Cashman:
Welcomed me into the Bridger locker room like I'd been there forever and made it easy to feel welcome and at home.

Ric Blevans:
Lets me follow his Tai-Chi in the mornings to get grounded, focused and present.

Dave Casto:
Always is curious about what I'm working on, and is encyclopedic in his knowledge! There's never judgment there, just questions, questions, leading to deeper understanding...

Lets me follow him around when he's got his carving skis out, occasionally looks over his shoulder, and gives me a one sentence correction that's spot on the money, before he takes off on his GS skis into the trees. Guess how I learned to ski trees?

Joe Krakker:
Took me on my very first back country ski, into Bradley's Meadow, and let me fire his shotgun off the top of Mt. Blackmoor. Yeah, that was pretty cool.

There are so many more people from Bridger who have given so much, it really does take a village to teach Kate to ski, but this is the core group from my first season who really exemplify for me what skiing and teaching is. There is a sense from all of these people that there's room for everyone, that we all have our unique talents, and that they are willing to help you improve, because, well, that's their job! To affect change in your skiing.

Thanks again, Bridger, for the honor of naming me your Instructor of the Year last year, and thanks to everyone who helped me get there, I can't wait to get out and rip it up with you this season!!

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