I took my Level 3, (or "Full Cert") for the first time at the end of my second season of skiing and teaching. I was excited to see where I was compared to the bar, and I didn't really expect to pass.
I passed the teaching portion with room to spare, but I didn't pass the skiing. I came pretty close, though!
Michael Hickey, my coach at the time, told me, "Kate, be careful, you don't want to pass your Full Cert unless you feel confident that you could get hired at any resort in the country, and they could give you any client, and you could take that client anywhere on any mountain and teach them and ski with them."
I took these words to heart, but I didn't really appreciate their impact until the beginning of this week.
I passed my full cert at the end of my third season teaching and skiing, last April. This year, I moved to Aspen Mountain, and on Monday, I had my very first lesson there. Now, Aspen Mountain is one of the oldest and most respected ski schools in the world, and I am a full cert instructor there. So I should be able to take anyone that comes into the ski school and work with them anywhere on the mountain.
As a rookie, I expected my first lesson to be someone that was not a ski instructors dream, but no. Right off the top, first lesson, third day on skis, I got thrown some amazing work off the desk. My clients wanted to ski top to bottom gondola runs as FAST as they could, through bumps, powder, over groomers, off cat tracks, through the trees and off the backside. We did eight laps by lunch. EIGHT. It took 17 minutes to ride the gondola and 2 and a half to ski down.
I don't know that I've ever skied that fast for that long. Not even chasing Troy Nedved and Josh Sphuler around Big Sky. I was grateful for Jill Imsand and Christine Bakker, who got me skiing at Mach Chicken (as Dave O says... that's one past Plaid...) through the skied out crud last year. I was grateful for Chris Jones in the bumps, and I was grateful most of all that I hadn't passed my three the year before, because I never would have survived this lesson had it been a year ago!
The best part was, they wanted me to teach! But they didn't want to slow down. So not only are we SKIING at Mach Chicken, but I'm trying to TEACH at Mach Chicken! At this point, I'm really REALLY grateful for Michael Hickey and Josh teaching me to keep it concise. I had literally 30 seconds. 15 to explain what I wanted, 10 to check for understanding, 5 to reiterate, and BAM we were off, melting the snow in our wake.
Two days of this. Welcome to Aspen Mountain, Kate! Sheesh!
Can I tell you something, though? It was great, amazing, awesome fun. And I did it. I changed their skiing, I stayed on my feet, I skied respectably well (although i have a loooong way to go...) and they booked me again for when they are next in town. Yippee!