|My name is Miner... Jon Miner...
and I'm a Professional Snowsports Instructor at Pats Peak in Henniker, NH. As I
look at the calendar, facing into my 17th season as a ski
instructor, there is a sense of wonderment that it's all gone by in
such a blur. There are stories that can be told... coldest
days... best runs... women... working full time as an instructor and
many others. The best stories have to be seeing my two kids growing up
at the ski area, and seeing my oldest start his own career as an
instructor... just one year younger than I was when I learned to ski!
The start of the ski season is always Pats Peak's Octoberfest.
It's T minus 3 days until we're scheduled to be open... a time to catch
up with old friends and meet new instructors. Ed got to
fill out his first job application!
Now T minus 2 days... and the first of two classroom sessions to start
getting people up to speed. It must be frightening to hear about
the after school classes and having twelve students out on the
hill. The veterans, myself included, tend to embelish some
stories... our best days... coldest days... worse lessons... Our
presentations are designed to introduce new instructors to the job plus
help them start learning the skills they'll need on the hill.
Mine is next week, the last one. It's tough being last, got to have new
material, original stories and keep the crowd's attention.
For me, Pats Peak has been a story of extremes. I've stood in
front of the Valley Lodge when it was -22F... and also when it was 70F.
Where's The Snow?
T minus 1... The second of the two classroom sessions. Ended up not being last, but somewhere in the middle... and like a relay runner had to pick up the pace to get the presentations back on schedule. We've got so much passion for the
sport and teaching others that it's easy to get subjective. Now where's the snow?
With the thermometer reading 52, when it should say 25... not sure when the
snow guns are going to fire up.
The Smell of Wax
T minus 1, and holding... The countdown to the season seems to be in
conflict with Mother Nature. Temps are hovering in the thirty's... and even
the best snow making team can't make snow. The boards are waxed, and we're
going to go see The Edge of Never on Friday; hoping it's the night before
T minus 1, and still holding... It's the night before the planned opening day
and there's still grass everywhere. We're off to The Edge of Never...
and then to an on-grass training session tomorrow.
The movie was great... I hope my kids never have to go through that, but if they
do, I hope they click-in and huck themselves over the edge to follow their
The season is off to slow start with some off-snow training... great to see
some new instructors. Spend half day at Pats Peak; then saw the first
flakes of snow falling at Noon time. Could the season really be starting?
It's Friday... December 11... and we're off the ski slope. True, I had
make some turns in the backyard, but the kids will not let me count that
as a ski day. In the spirit of alpine adventure, the kids took the day
off from school to be part of opening day. Training starts tomorrow, but
today was a good day to just loosen up and make some turns.
It's Saturday night... and we're five days into the season. Last weekend was
the hiring clinic ... I worked with both veteran and new instructors to get
everyone back in shape for skiing and teaching. This weekend was more of
the same, except the temperatures were colder.
After the skis are put away, there is no better place to be than the Sled Pub.
Edward and I are enjoying some cold beverages... Mountain Dew for me, and root beer for him, as we relax with fellow instructors.
For dinner, Ed gets the pulled pork, and I order a buffalo burger.
It's Sunday night.
Although the forcasters were
calling for snow to our south, only about thirty flakes ventured north to
Pats Peak. On Sunday, I answered the call to take a few runs down Hurricane
to help the Ski Patrol assess the avalanche danger. It was clear from the
chairlift that a pressure ridge had developed at the bottom, and several
crevases had opened further up on the hill. Under the dense man-made
snow was at least a foot of natural snow... the ideal conditions for a
slide. What an experience to be skiing on such an unstable surface!
I get to taunt the kids that I've already been on Hurricane.
Day after Christmas and a really light turnout on the slopes. New skis on
order, but Santa didn't have room in the sleigh.
Rain? You've got to be kidding me! On the bright side, the snow surface was
fabulous and no lift lines at all. Made several runs on Huricane; bumps
are starting to develop.
Fresh snow! As the day progressed over an inch of new snow fell. Skiing
was really slow, especially for students with unwaxed equipment. First day
of the Holiay week and we really got busy; I taught three lessons.
One sixth of season has passed by. The early morning temperature was 23...
but it was soon dropping into single digits and the wind picked up; for those
people not dressesd properly it was purely dangerous. For those properly
dressed it was still cold. The best part of the day was teaching several
young ladies as a favor for another instructor. We started in the Beginners
Area and progressed to the Valley after lunch. It's all worthwhile when you
see Mother, daughter and friend riding up the chairlift at the end of the day.
I remarked to my instructor friend that this is really what we're all about...
we're a family ski area! Ed and Dave finally get dropped off tonight... it's
been an emotionally hard Holiday without them, but now they're really home!
See you on the slopes!
Time flies and it's all downhill! Last Friday was the first day of the after school program. I skied into the Beginners' Area at 5:30pm with
my own Posse gliding in behind me. A class of ten... no problem!
I first asked "Has anyone skied before?", three hands went up at the
bottom of the line, while one kid at the other end enquired "In my
living room?". No.. I answered, and sent the other three up the carpet
with Ed and Dave.
I spent Saturday in the Beginners' Area being "Pat", while he was helping
train the instructors for YES. It's fun to hang out with Larry and Val,
and even better being able to "poach" the good lessons.
Sunday was the first day on my new skis... and JC
recognized the fact by calling me "Colonel Sanders', due to the large
Rossignil Rooster on the ski tips.