By Lauren Owens
By Karen D. Lorentz
“My parents signed me up as a junior instructor when I was 14. That was the turning point for me to be able to connect with people and be part of a community,” said Keri Reid of a defining moment that headed her to a career in ski instruction. Born and raised in a small suburb of Montreal, Reid began skiing “on plastic skis in the backyard around age 4 or 5.” Around 7, her parents taught her to ski at Laurentian ski areas.
“My parents were great skiers and my grandparents skied, too,” she said of early influences.
Reid continued to teach skiing throughout her high school and college years, including the summer of 2009 teaching in New Zealand (winter there) before graduating from the HEC business school of Montreal University in 2010.
A winter of teaching at Okemo followed before she returned to New Zealand. She then alternated between instructing there and in Japan for five years.
In Canada, Reid had trained with the CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance) and obtained Level I through III rankings and was able to transfer her accreditation to PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) where she is currently an Eastern Development Team member.
Mountain Times: How did you get to Okemo?
Keri Reid: My husband and I got married and I had that one year at Okemo and was looking for that next step in my career so that led to my job as Okemo assistant ski and ride school director.
MT: What are your responsibilities as the assistent director?
KR: I help manage 350+ people along with Chris Saylor [director] and others. I help with planning and budgeting and serve as Chris’ right hand. I hire and train new instructors and I oversee and help facilitate the Women’s Alpine Adventures (WAA) program, which is headed by Barbara Newton.
MT: Why a woman’s program and do you think all women can learn to ski or snowboard?
KR: It’s an opportunity to learn in a pressure-free environment. No competition, just fun in the company of other likeminded people.
MT: What are the WAA program options?
KR: The one-day WAA experience is a Sunday Fun Day. It’s an opportunity for women who don’t have the time to be away from family or work to sample coaching “by women, for women.” It’s open to all ability levels.
The two-day is more intensive coaching, includes breakfast and lunch daily and a welcome party.
The five-day program in January fills quickly, so women looking for a weeklong experience should check it out early.
The next Sunday programs are Feb. 11 and March 4 and the two-day programs are Feb. 8-9, and March 8-9.
MT: What is your approach to teaching?
KR: It should be about the fun and a positive experience. Having a good time is essential to skills development.
MT: What role does psychology play if any?
KR: Psychology fits in with how we work with people, children and adults. If you don’t feel safe, you won’t be able to learn, so we build a connection with students — they need to trust us. So we build up slowly and do something they are comfortable with. Being an instructor has so many aspects and a psychology background is part of PSIA learning. PSIA is very much into child psychology and clinics for teaching adults and seniors as well.
MT: Do you teach at Okemo?
KR: I teach on occasion but most of my teaching tends to be as a member of PSIA. Being part of PSIA helps lay the groundwork for bringing instructors to another level. The teamwork is just wonderful. As a development team member I am on a pathway to becoming an examiner for PSIA. I’m an examiner in training. We are understudying events and are there to help and learn. I could lead a Level I exam or do a clinic. The work is a cross between training and leading, depending on needs.
MT: Other sports, activities in winter and summer?
KR: The gym. Fitness is an overall value. I run and waterski also.
MT: Do you balance family with work?
KR: Fortunately, my husband works in the ski industry so he understands if I have to go to an event and that winter is full-on work. The rest of the year I have more time for family, including siblings and parents.
MT: You mentioned a sense of community as a positive that appealed to you and got you hooked on teaching. Does that extend to where you live and do you live in a mountain town?
KR: Our main home is in Ludlow— we live in N.H. in the summer. Living in Ludlow in the winter is the best thing ever. It’s all encompassing — closest friends and best experiences and being with other skiers are facilitated by living in Ludlow. We get together for après and that makes for continuous learning as we feed off each other’s energy.
MT: In addition to work at Okemo and PSIA do you have other jobs?
KR: I am a brand ambassador for Lange and Dynastar. I ski on their gear and tell people about it.
MT: Words of wisdom?
KR: Take a lesson. It’s a never-ending progression and opportunity to grow.