Instructors head back to the slopes for a reunion
Almost every skier in the world has one thing in common, they were all taught to ski by someone else. For some it was family members or friends, but for many, it was a ski instructor who introduced them to the thrill of fresh powder. To honor those that have given the sport so much, Deer Valley will host the 18th annual Veteran Ski Instructors Weekend, Dec. 9-11.
The event was originally created by former ski instructors Bill Lash, Phil Jones, and the late ski pioneer Lou Lorenz, who wanted to host a weekend specifically designed to give retired instructors the chance to socialize.
"We’d been to a Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) Convention in 1983 in Sun Valley," Lash said. "It was so much fun, I decided why couldn’t we do it more often?"
The men invited veteran members of PSIA with the loose definition that a "veteran" was constituted by anyone who had taught skiing for 25 years or more or their combined age and teaching experience totaled more than 70 years. The first event brought in 37 veterans to Park City Mountain Resort in 1988. The reunion weekend soon blossomed into a formal weekend that now welcomes over one hundred veteran instructors each year. The event has been held in Deer Valley since 1987.
Lash, who spent 25 years as an instructor at Solitude Resort and another 25 in Sun Valley, served at the first-ever president for PSIA and the Intermountain Ski Instructors of America, so he has used his expertise to help guide the veteran program in its early stages.
In 1991, Lash decided that the festivities should include more than fun and merriment, and decided to add an award component to the weekend. Since then, the Veteran Ski Instructors Association has recognized countless ski instructors throughout the country that members felt should be recognized for their contributions to the teaching profession. The first honoree was Utah’s Alf Engen. This year, the group will honor Werner Schuster and the late Luggi Foeger, both former instructors at Alpine Meadows in California as well as Vail’s Erich Windisch. The veteran’s group will hold a banquet Saturday night at the Silver Lake Lodge in Deer Valley to present the awards. "The purpose is to ski together and have fun and to honor people that deserve to be honored," Lash said.
The Veteran Ski Instructors Association includes members from all over country, although most hail from the western United States. Lash says that they range in age from 55 to 82 and almost all can still make it down the slopes.
For more information on the Association or become a part of the reunion, call Nancy Perkins at (942) 942-4298 or log onto www http://www.vsia.net.
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