Coaching A Mountain Lifestyle
Two of my Buster girls skied the double black diamond trail Goat for their first time this winter!
Coaching skiing is not just about teaching form and technique: it is about generating stoke, wilderness safety education, and enjoying the freeing feeling of exploring the great outdoors. After instructing at Bolton Valley Resort for three years, I sent it to Mount Mansfield and took an opportunity to coach the season-long Buster Program at Stowe Mountain Resort. The Buster Programs are for 3 to 16-year-old skiers. Children are assigned to one group for the season, and lucky coaches (like myself) are assigned the same group of kids from year to year.
In my second year of coaching Busters, my group consists of six now-7-year-olds, and boy, they can shred! We have become a tight knit and caring posse; in fact, it is not unusual to see kids from my group hiking through the woods to lend a hand to a fallen friend. Whether it's digging out a buried ski, or a chance to help someone back on their boots, the team-spirit and mountain comradery is alive.
If polled, my Busters would say that the trees are their favorite place to ski, although they recognize the importance of mastering all areas of the sport. Gate training, mogul contests, and even a unique "up-down" contest (which can serve to test their uphill mobility... or as a way to generate some extra body heat on those sub-zero days) keeps these kids engaged every Saturday and Sunday from 8:45 AM to 2:45 PM. I have plenty of colleagues who call it a day well before these youngsters do.
Oh, and we can’t forget about taking snack breaks in the cool forts we discover in secret glades!!!
Coach Shelby taking on the bumps contest!
So what is it that keeps these kids going (besides bribing turn shapes with gummy worms)? Turtle Fur.
Yes, I work as the assistant to the design team at Turtle Fur during the week. Yes, I understand that you might be thinking my answer is biased, however, dressing for the elements is crucial to maintaining a smiling face while adventuring outdoors. It is important to take measures to avoid overheating, but even more importantly, not letting yourself get uncomfortably cold.
The struggle is real as we transition from trekking through deep pow in the woods into a sudden blast of that crisp mountain air while heading back up on the Fourrunner Quad. Our classic Totally Tubular and Brain Shroud are my go-to pieces for the average 'day on the hill' in Vermont. The seven-year-olds typically wear one of our fleece options. Some carrying The Neck in their pockets for when their balaclavas (or Shellaclavas… get it right kids!) do the job too well when the sun is out in full force.
Maintaining a warm core temperature while covering all extremities to remain comfortable are vital elements of safely participating in outdoor activities. It is hard to have fun if it feels like our cheeks have turned into frozen chicken cutlets!
With over 5 feet of powder dropping in February alone, my Busters and I are hyped for the remainder of the season - viva la spring skiing! We'll be sure to prepare for all that Mother Nature throws at us with our Turtle Fur in hand (and on head!)
I challenge you to keep up with these little rippers!
Stay warm out there!