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"But with new ski technology shorter skis with lots of shape it was possible to get them to shift their weight and steer a bit through edging. When youre not on a big hill, beginners can pick this up quickly and begin making rhythmic turns down the hill. This is the thrill of skiing!"
Unquestioned Sensei in Japan, Don-san put his technique to work with the school children he journeys to teach every year. Pitted against other instructors utilizing the standard snowplow, Don found his kids learning more quickly, progressing further, and most importantly to him, having way more fun in the short time he has with them. Hes convinced even if the Alliance remains skeptical.
"When I get to Japan, I have eight hours with people who dont speak my language. What do I want them to do? I want them to get up on the hill and carve turns, which is what kids want to do. And get them there as fast as possible.
"Its just a great experience when youre the old bugger. Most people in Ski School dont expect very much of you. Its not necessarily overt but it just shows through. In Japan, all the liftees know me. Theyre local farmers, not skiers. Theyre probably younger than me but theyre hard working farmers. Theyre wrinkled up, shrivelled up bastards and they look at me and they know Im a lot older than they are and I can ski and they cant. To them, this isnt a matter of envy, its a matter of respect."
"Why teach?" he repeats the question when asked. "Passion. No other reason. Being a ski instructor is transporting other people to the most wonderful, thrilling experience they can have. I teach because I love it."
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Its a rare occupation that embraces workers ranging in age from 18 to over 80, workers doing essentially the same physical tasks. Rarer still when that job engages them in helping a cross-section of the public pursue a passion to more exquisite heights.
"With guys like Doug and Don," says Rob McSkimming, Whistler-Blackcombs Ski School director, "the life skills they have and bring to a lesson are hugely important. Theyre also role models for some of the other people in the school. They see these guys and they figure teachings something they can be doing for as long as they want or something they can get back to later in life. It opens up possibilities as far as their long term thinking goes."