By Kristen Lummis, BraveSkiMom.com
Ashley Sifers, of Ski Granby Ranch, is the Colorado Ski Instructor of the Year for 2013. A first-year PSIA Level 1 instructor, Ashley says she was “floored” when she won the award from Colorado Ski Country USA.
“My supervisor nominated me for the award, but I didn’t think I had snowball’s chance,” she laughed.
“It’s a real honor.”
With a background in therapeutic recreation, Ashley spent 10 years working with people with disabilities. “My job wasn’t necessarily to teaching skiing, but working for a nonprofit, I ended up teaching skiing by default.”
“In my job, we used skiing and other sports as vehicles to other means,” Ashley explains. “I really enjoyed teaching skiing and wanted to become a full-time ski instructor. So last year, I quite my job and made it happen.”
Here’s more from our interview:
In addition to your experience working in recreational therapy, what attracted you to ski instruction?
I believe that skiing is a way to enrich your life and grow your experiences. I love the look on people’s faces when they accomplish something and have a breakthrough. I enjoy being part of that process. Skiing means a lot to me and I wanted to give skiing to others.
Plus, being an instructor is an awesome way to spend a day!
Part of teaching skiing is teaching safety. What do you think is most important for skier and snowboarder safety?
It’s important to understand the skier and snowboarder Responsibility Code. These rules mean something and everyone needs to understand them.
The Code doesn’t exist to put a damper on your good time. But since no one ever gets the whole run to themselves, everyone needs to be aware and be responsible.
Things happen when we’re skiing. Conditions change. People take unexpected spills. We all need to trust and respect each other, have a good time and come off the hill safely.
What’s your best tip for a great ski day?
Know your limits. This is really important. Recognize when you’re tired. Be aware of your surroundings and listen to your body. Don’t be tempted to take that “awesome last powder run” if your body is telling you to stop.
You don’t have to eke out every minute of the day to have a successful, awesome day on the hill.
How can skiers and riders know then they are ready to try more difficult terrain like glades and moguls?
First, get a good grasp on the fundamentals. If you feel comfortable with what you’re doing, then it’s time to move on and try something a bit harder. We get better by pushing it at some point and trying more difficult terrain. But always do this with a buddy.
What is your favorite part of ski instructing?
The connection I make with the students. This experience can go a long way in the rest of their lives. Every time we try something new, it changes who we are and how we see the world. Skiing can do this for people.
My grandfather learned how to ski in Europe during WW II. He was adamant that his grandchildren would ski, so every year, he would bring us to Colorado from Missouri. We still talk about these ski vacations after 20 years.
As an instructor, if I can help someone build a fun family memory that will last at least 20 years, then I’ve done a good job at the end of the day.
What do you want to share about Granby Ranch, your home mountain?
Ski Granby Ranch is a family-friendly, non-intimidating mountain.
It’s a good place to explore and not worry about getting into inappropriate terrain. It’s a place where families can spread out, kids can have some freedom, and everyone will end up at the same place at the end of the run.