Two Summit County ski resort employees were honored recently for their work giving ski lessons and grooming slopes.
Don Coleman, general manager of Copper Mountain Resort’s Ski and Ride School, was named Ski Instructor of the Year by Colorado Ski Country USA, the nonprofit trade association that represents 21 resorts in the state.
He was one of nine people recognized for their excellence and contributions to the industry at the organization’s 51st annual meeting during the Double Diamond Awards at Copper Mountain Resort on Thursday, June 12.
A ski industry veteran, Coleman was the director of instruction at Hidden Valley Ski Area in Estes Park, Colorado, at age 20 before he joined the staff at Copper.
Recently, Coleman created an innovative new method of instruction for adult skiing and snowboarding lessons. Known as “Terrain Based Teaching,” Coleman designed terrain features at Copper’s dedicated Learn to Ski Area, with specialized instruction that proved popular from the first day of the 2013-14 season.
Copper incorporated a mini-pipe, bank turns, a perfect-pitch slope and a funbox in its learning area. Coleman said he played around with terrain features at the Frisco Adventure Park about two years ago, inspired by what other resorts were doing back east, and incorporated them at Copper last winter.
“It was like creating a playground,” he said. “I felt like I was in Disneyland all winter.”
Every department at the resort helped in an amazing team effort, Coleman said, making lessons more comfortable and allowing students to use less energy so they could take more lessons.
“We can actually turn them around and have them take their first runs facing the mountain,” he said. “It’s more of a thrill that’s fun as opposed to a thrill that’s panicky.”
According to a news release from the trade association, adult enrollment at Copper’s Ski and Ride School increased 113 percent, and Copper saw percentage increases in guests receiving instruction for their first on-mountain experiences.
By creating a popular new method of teaching beginners, Coleman raised the bar for effective skiing and snowboarding instruction.
The association’s Groomer of the Year award went to Napoleon Swyter of Keystone Resort.
A 10-year veteran of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Swyter started as a full-time cat operator at Keystone, where he was voted as the rookie of the year. Swyter also has grooming experience at Coronet Peak in New Zealand.
“In 2013, Napoleon brought his experience and enthusiasm back to Keystone and is working like he never left,” said Pete Van Oosterhout, trail maintenance supervisor for Keystone, in a news release.
“It was like creating a playground. I felt like I was in Disneyland all winter.”
On designing terrain features for Copper’s Learn to Ski Area