KILLINGTON-The series of photographs on the wall are riveting
images of a family intimately tied to big mountain skiing. One
family photograph, taken some twenty years ago, depicts two young
girls on skis flanked by their parents. It's a captivating
photograph. Everyone is smiling. The family is apparently standing
at the base of a mountain. And it appears as if its lightly
snowing. The two girls in the front of the image are Katherine and
Susan Rockwell. Behind the two are their parents, Charlie and
Madeline Rockwell. Today Katherine is the Program manager of the
Pico Mountain Snowsports School. Understand, it's a natural
transition as Katherine was actually on skis long before she
walked. In fact, she was on her mom's skis before she was born!
It's true! Her mom, Madeline, Rockwell, was teaching skiing at Pico
when pregnant with her eldest daughter Katherine.
"Skiing is something our family all has in common," reflects
Katherine. "We grew up skiing. It's always been a part of our
In today's frenetic world, the image, taken before digital
photography, provides a glimpse into one family's love of skiing,
and of the mountains. This image depicts their family on skis. On
the wall are other photographs. Another image depicts Katherine
skiing deep powder. Yet another photograph is of her parents, in
their twenties, at Middlebury College. While not all of the
photographs involve skiing the images of skiing are prominent, and
reveal a young woman who grew up on skis. In fact, she started
teaching skiing while a young teenager. Then, following college,
she secured a position as a "line instructor" at Killington. Today,
after several promotions, she is at Pico, and she is working to
help families maximize their experience.
An hour later, as I skied down Pico Mountain, I watched
Katherine and her Dad matching high speed arcs. It was
beautiful, but not surprising. In this case Katherine is the 2nd
generation to carve out a living teaching skiing. In fact, her mom
still teaches skiing full-time at Bromley Mountain. And her Dad,
Charlie Rockwell, who taught at Killington years ago, can reflect
on decades of work as a member of the elite Board of Examiners for
the Professional Ski Instructors of America - the group who teach,
train, and certify ski instructors at resorts throughout the
In the world of ski teaching, PSIA Examiners are considered at
the pinnacle of the sport. And watching Katherine match turns with
her Dad, its clear she is continuing a tradition balancing
extraordinary skiing skills, with an equally strong commitment to
teaching, and maximizing family adventure.
"Being with family is a very important part of our life and
skiing is something we have shared together," notes Charlie
Rockwell. "It's a common thread in our lives,."
In truth, not all families ski with this power. The day before I
watched Katherine and her Dad at Pico Mountain, I watched her mom
Madeline teaching young skiers at Bromley Mountain. She is a
powerful skier who also holds full certification from PSIA. It was
evident that she has great pride in her family, in their
accomplishments, and she has enjoyed the common interest they share
with skiing. In fact, while their younger daughter Susan is now
living outside Washington DC, working in education, Madeline told
me Susan still joined the family skiing each year over the
Putting all this together, these images, and these lives, may
provide a trail map for family success. Today, Charlie and Madeline
Rockwell reflect on more then 40 years of marriage, and as their
family continues its tradition of teaching skiing. Perhaps there is
something in these lessons as important as any ski lesson.
The kids grew up skiing. That's important. And it's important, I
think, too, that they saw their parents passionate about skiing,
and about living a healthy, clean, lifestyle in general.
There's more though. They also saw their family interact
together. And they still interact together skiing every year. It's
a tradition that has last and that they all continue to
Today both daughters are well-educated, intelligent, and
confident skiers. And both are the kind of people who care about
other people. In truth, this more then a simple story about two
daughters who grew up skiing. It's about parents who love skiing
and passed on their passion. It's a story of a family who play
together on the slopes.
Does your family ski together? Do they enjoy the time together
on the mountain?
Honestly, I wished I could have captured this family on film. It
seemed, well, special. It was special sharing a lunch with
Katherine and Charlie. It was special sharing dinner with Charlie
and Madeline. It was a fun day. A good memory.
"Sometimes it's about the family more then the terrain,"
says Katherine. "Sometimes it can be more about family then about
double black diamonds. If you choose wisely it can be a great
"It's important to allow each person to experience the day
in a way most enjoyable for that person," adds Charlie Rockwell.
"Sometimes they can ski different trails and meet to ride the same
chair. Sometimes they can meet at lunch. It's important to choose
and plan appropriately."
Family skiing? In many ways Pico Mountain personifies family
skiing. It's always been a place where families have skied. And
where families learned to ski. Today, with Katherine Rockwell
serving as the manager of the Snowsports School, the tradition
continues. May you treasure your family adventures. From your first
run, to your last run.