From the Archives: “Stranger Things Have Happened, or Have They?”

On the first Friday of each month, we’ll take a stroll down memory lane and feature excerpted articles from 32 Degrees, The Professional Skier, and The Pro Rider from years past. For our first fun Friday foray, we go back 26 years, to Spring 1998, when James Cameron’s Titanic won a record-tying 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture; after a nine-season run, the final episode of Seinfeld aired on NBC; and Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three consecutive weeks.


The Professional Skier asked, and you answered. To wrap up the fleeting 1997-98 season, the editorial staff took to the trenches to explore the lighter side of ski and snowboard instruction. After coming up with 10 questions [four are included below] … that we thought might elicit some colorful replies, we faxed our survey to ski schools across the country and posted it on the PSIA website.

The results were enlightening. We learned that tips run the gamut: one lucky instructor got to laze on a Spanish beach while another was left to ponder the decorative value of old tires. We also discovered that a “day at the office” can evoke moments of humility as well as hilarity.

Here are some of the more amusing (i.e., printable) anecdotes we received. We hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we did.

Q: What’s the strangest or most extravagant tip you’ve ever received?

Two tickets to the 1980 Winter Olympics and a ride there in the U.S. Ski Team helicopter. – Anonymous, Brighton Ski and Snowboard School, Brighton, Utah

“Don’t eat raw pork. You’ll get tapeworms.” – Kevin Eddy, Angel Fire, New Mexico

A free PSIA tattoo (the shield, of course). – Wild Willie Folkertsma, Cannonsburg, Michigan

A tire! A lady rolled an old tire up to the base lodge and offered it to me as a tip for a “great lesson.” She told me to paint it white, put it in my front yard, and plant flowers in it when spring came. – Mike Ficorilli, Ski Tamarack, New York

Two weeks free room and board on Majorca, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean. – Davy “Roy” Precit, Ski School Director, Palisades Tahoe, California

A bar of strong cowboy soap (locally made, of course). – Chyral Berney, The Big Mountain, Montana

Q: What’s the most creative thing you’ve ever seen a student do with their equipment?

Two expert skiers brought one pair of boots and one pair of skis between them. They skied all day, one with the right boot and ski and one with the left boot and ski. – Mike Ficorilli, Ski Tamarack, New York

A woman put her goggles on upside down and then complained about a sharp pain across the bridge of her nose. – Kevin Eddy, Angel Fire, New Mexico

A student heard that he should go to a shorter ski, so he asked the rental shop to make his skis shorter. – Mike Iman, Ski School Director, Sugar Bowl, California

I had a young fellow once who tried to get his boots on over his Air Jordans. When I tried to help him, he said, “You mean I have to take my Jordans off?” – Michael Patmas, Shawnee Mountain, Pennsylvania, and Snowbird, Utah

Q: What’s the strangest question a student’s ever asked you?

“When are y’all gonna install them mobulls?” – Kevin Eddy, Angel Fire, New Mexico

“Are you open when it’s snowing?” – Robin Nein-Daneker, SKIwee Director, Shawnee Mountain, Pennsylvania

I had one person sign up for Level 5-6 instruction. Then when he started to get into his skis, he looked at me in bewilderment and asked, “How do these things go on?” – Chuck Kornely, Norway Mountain, Michigan

It was -10 °F (ambient, with about a 5 to 10 mph wind). I was on the lift with a student, and we were both shivering. The student, a woman in her 30s, looked at me and said, “You get cold?” – John Helldorfer, Whitetail, Pennsylvania

“Is this manmade snow?” (Asked during a snowstorm.) – Anonymous, Brighton Ski and Snowboard School, Brighton, Utah

“Where do you put the manmade snow in the summer?” – Mike Mettler, Perfect North Slopes, Indiana

“What time does the 2 o’clock lesson start?” – Davy “Roy” Precit, Ski School Director, Palisades Tahoe, California

Q: What’s the most embarrassing experience you’ve had while giving a lesson?

I broke my left thumb while doing a demo in the moguls. I didn’t tell the class I was hurt, and since I couldn’t hold the pole in that hand, I tucked it up into my armpit. The class did the same thing and we all skied with one pole tucked under our arms. – Mike Ficorilli, Ski Tamarack, New York

One day in my second year of teaching, I slipped on a patch of ice and did the splits. When I skied down to the students, I realized I had split my pants from stem to stern and was flashing bright thermal underwear for all to see. I ran into the ski patrol room and got about 20 safety pins to put myself back together. Unfortunately, the pins kept opening and sticking me in the rear every time I sat on the lift. – Johanna Hall, Ski School Director, Mission Ridge, Washington

While skiing backwards (slowly) in front of a woman who was learning to do a braking wedge, she skied into me, giving me a kiss on the lips. I turned red and didn’t know what to say. – Chuck Kornely, Norway Mountain, Michigan

I skied my group into a creek in the middle of a snowstorm. – Mike Iman, Ski School Director, Sugar Bowl, California