Photo: Brendan Reeves Photography

I’ve just returned from a winter in Wanaka, New Zealand. As always, Wanaka was a blast. Even my disc golf game started to recover from the seven year hiatus…

In the start of my ski instructing career, I always went to Wanaka for my Southern winters. I have learned so much down there. And I met the love of my life – Johanna – down there. No wonder it holds a special place in my heart.

This time, I worked for Rookie Academy. For me, it meant coming full circle as I got my BASI levels 1 and 2 with Rookies in 2010. What a life I have had since then! Lady Fortune has looked after me in my ski career and helped me meet great people, get great jobs and has taken me to some great places.

I have even been to Interski once, representing the NZSIA. Interski is a big event and a bit overwhelming because of its size. I find I learn better in more confined environments. Think of it this way: Interski is like a university lecture when a professor speaks in front of hundreds of students. It is a bit impersonal and the message will likely not be tailored to you specifically. In smaller groups, like prepping for mock trials in law school, I find I learn more because I can engage with my peers.

A few events like that in my ski career come to mind, such as filming for Projected Productions and certainly this Southern winter working for Rookie Academy. I learned so much in those environments. They have been the “real” Interski events of my life, where I took on board things that still make a difference in my skiing and how I think about coaching. I’m working on some of those things almost a decade later.

When thinking back, the general theme of my “private” Interski events has been this: good skiers at similar or better levels to my own abilities have worked and socialized for a period of time, and most importantly, the people in those environments have been very good yet humble, knowledgeable yet eager to learn, willing to share but eager to listen and so on. I think most people can thrive in those environments. It’s in those environments that I have learned the most. 

The bonus: lots of friends from around the world!

I think and hope that the Level Up training program provides the opportunity for our trainees to create a similar environment. One where everyone on the team feels they belong, is able to grow as a skier, instructor and as a person.

I cannot wait for the upcoming season!

Jon