putting names to the faces of GTR Ski School

GTR Ski school is home to many psia-certified instructors

One of the most ubiquitous scenes encountered at a ski area is a ski instructor, snowplowing down the mountain with an entourage of tumbling children bouncing off of one another, trying to maintain that perfect pizza.

But, instructing extends far beyond this trope. In many cases, instructors have undergone extensive training and a rigorous certification process to provide the best possible instruction to students.

The governing organization that standardizes and conducts this training is the PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America). Grand Targhee Resort is proud to have numerous PSIA certified instructors at our ski school.

“Getting your level one tells any ski school in the country that you are able to teach beginners, novices, and intermediates. It says you have the skills to teach through the novice zone,” said Hope Macke, an instructor teaching at Targhee for the first time this winter.

hope macke: psia level 1 certified

Macke, originally from Bellingham, WA, wanted to distinguish herself from other instructors by obtaining her level 1 certification.

“It wasn’t required, and I think I’m the only first year instructor that is doing it. The level one alpine certification is a coaching exam as well, so the whole idea is that they want to see that you understand the fundamentals of skiing. The pin tells your clients that you’ve put the time in and creates a certain level of trust,” Macke says.

Macke is very grateful for the opportunity to teach and grow as an instructor at Grand Targhee. Specifically, she appreciates the learning environment Targhee provides both for clients and instructors.

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Hope Macke leads a beginner down Chief Joe Bowl.

“I did my level one at Jackson, there are just so many more people. Which tends to get crazy. The nice thing about Targhee is that you can take up an entire run doing your turns with your students and there’s no one who’s getting mad or annoyed with you for cutting in line or what not,” Macke says.

Clients are not the only individuals learning more about skiing at GTR’s Ski School. During the beginning of the season, less experienced instructors are taken under the wing of more experienced members of the Ski School team.

“When I got here, during our first couple weeks as new instructors, we had the opportunity to do a bunch of clinics with our crazy-experienced instructors, which is really awesome. We started talking about skiing fundamentals and all these things I never realized I was doing, and now I can be conscious about them,” said Macke.

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Macke helps a young student load Shoshone.

In addition to 45 certified instructors, GTR also has 4 PSIA-certified examiners including Beth Miller, who has been skiing Targhee since long before she could drive. Becoming an examiner is a much more extensive process than an instructor certification and is the top-tier certification PSIA offers.

beth miller: psia examiner certified

“PSIA has a 3-tier certification system, and I got my level 1 and 2 in my first year which is not super common, but it’s doable. Subsequently, I tried for my level 3, and when I failed it hit home that I had so much to learn,” Miller says. “After your level 3, there’s a tryout process where your teaching and skiing skills are evaluated by the top instructors In the world, usually members of the national team. Once you get selected, it’s even a more rigorous process as they shadow you during training.

Miller is no stranger to putting the time in. Her dedication stems from a constant drive to see others succeed in their goals, which subsequently helps foster their love for skiing.  

“The learning is what kind of sucked me into it… I found the more I learned, the better I skied, and the more I could connect with people in different ways. Through those connections and seeing a change in their skiing, that’s what made me keep coming back. It really comes down to wanting to share what I love with other people who want to love it.”

 

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To clients, the mere sight of a pin can heavily boost credibility of each instructor. Here, Miller displays hers.

Clients are not the only ones that benefit from the efforts of examiners like Miller. The same motivation that propels her to instruct clients at a high level also spills over to the less experienced instructors.

“Being a person that can be a resource for other instructors is very valuable and important to me. I want to be that resource that I never had while I was going through the process,” said Miller.

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Miller watches her group carefully as they run a drill.

 

Instructors like Miller and Macke prove that there is a lot more to Ski School than just pizza and french frying down the slope.

Anyone, from never-ever skiers and boarders to intermediates and experts, can appreciate the dedication and hard work GTR’s instructors put in daily to make sure skiing and riding is fun for everyone.

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Beth Miller, a certified PSIA examiner, rides Shoshone with some excited clients.
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Miller stops with her clients to go over proper technique

Words and photos by Connor Shea, additional reporting by Emil Harry.

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