By Allison Kennedy Davies.
Every single day, all winter long, a young child carefully slides her skis onto the magic carpet at Blue Mountain for the first time. And with that one simple act, a new skier is born. For many, it’s the beginning of a lifelong journey in a sport with endless potential. Where that journey leads—to the mountains of British Columbia, to the top step of an Olympic podium, or to a job alongside Blue Mountain’s talented roster of Snow School instructors—is anyone’s guess.
We caught up with two Kids at Blue grads—all grown up now—who are working in the Blue Mountain Ski School. Ingrid Gerol and Kadin Senten took different roads to becoming instructors and both will be at Blue for the 2015/16 season.
For Ingrid, the journey started young. At age two, she began taking lessons at Kids at Blue. “We lived in the city and we came up every weekend,” recalls Gerol. “I got adopted into the program and Kids at Blue’s Leslie Ciarletti was like my mom on the weekends.”
“It’s so important to be patient with your kids. I’ve seen some great skiers who didn’t really bloom until they were 13 or 14. For me, it clicked after I stopped racing, unfortunately, and then I really understood. Skiing is an art and it takes time to learn every single step of the perfect turn.” – Ingrid Gerol
Gerol’s early start helps her relate to the little ones she’s teaching today as a Level 1 Instructor and a Level 1 Coach. “When the little kids get stubborn and frustrated, I totally get where they’re coming from,” she laughs. “As the teacher now, it’s humbling to look at where you came from. I have both perspectives—I was literally once in their shoes. I don’t work at Blue Mountain as a job—I work there because I love it.”
After many hours on the magic carpet, Gerol moved into a ski race program around age eight, giving her another perspective on the sport. “When I raced, I saw parents get very frustrated with their children, wanting them to win right away,” recalls Gerol. “It’s so important to be patient with your kids. I’ve seen some great skiers who don’t really bloom until they are 13 or 14. For me, it clicked after I stopped racing, unfortunately, and then I really understood. Skiing is an art and it takes time to learn every single step of the perfect turn. Let your kids follow their hearts—if they aren’t into racing, let them try park skiing. Just let your child be free to love the sport.”
While she’s teaching at Blue this winter, Gerol is also taking the Sports Media program at Ryerson University. “I wanted to combine both of my passions for media and sport,” explains Gerol. “I would love to get into ski broadcasting—to travel with the circuit and get to cover those athletes. It would be a way to follow my passion for the rest of my life.”
If you’re looking for Level 1 Instructor Kadin Senten at Blue Mountain, try the terrain park first. The Grade 11 student took a much different route to the Blue Mountain Ski School but he quickly found his niche. Senten was a Kids at Blue summer camp regular, hiking and biking all over the mountain, but didn’t get his start on skis until he was nine.
Senten started taking Wednesday night lessons and by age 11 he knew he wanted to start skiing the park and pipe. “I was about 11 when I started going into the park, right after I started skiing really,” Senten explains. “I kinda hated the park at first,” he laughs. “The falls are tough but my friends helped me and then I took some of the Blue Mountain terrain park lessons. They give you the basics and then it’s just about putting in more time after that.”
Last year, Senten worked as an Assistant Pro in the Kids at Blue program and, after he got his Level 1 instructors, he taught in the Blue Mountain Snow School. For 2015/16, he’ll be instructing again but will also be working in the terrain park. “I’m going to work on my Level 1 Park Certification this year and my Level 1 Coaching,” he explains. “Having been through the program myself, I totally know where the kids are coming from. It’s a great environment and I love helping them out. ”
So this year, when you shake hands with your new instructor take a few minutes to ask them about their Blue Mountain history. Chances are they perfected their pizza and french fries on these very same slopes.
Check out more from the Mountain Life Ontario Winter 2016 issue.