2021-24 National Team: Meet Brian Donovan

The Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) is excited to announce its 2021-24 National Team.

The new PSIA-AASI National Team will set the standard for snowsports instruction and embody the ski and snowboard experience. PSIA-AASI hand-selected the 37 team members for their range of skills that allow them to serve as inspirational leaders and build enthusiasm for learning and having fun skiing and riding.

Meet AASI Snowboard Team member Brian Donovan then listen to his First Chair podcast.

Where is your home mountain?

Mount Snow Resort, Vermont

What other occupations are you involved in?

I work at the resort year-round, but have spent time in the past working full-time as a whitewater raft guide and safety kayaker, as well as working as a guide and trainer at an aerial adventure park and zip line tour.

Describe a teaching experience that sticks out in your mind. 

A younger couple showed up at our snowsports desk requesting me for a private lesson for their son. After a brief conversation, I learned I had taught the couple how to snowboard when they were first dating almost a decade prior. Now married, they were at the mountain with their four-year-old, whom they wanted a book a private lesson. They said the snowboard lesson with me had been such a great experience that they wanted that to get a lesson for their son, and to continue snowboarding as a family sport.

I was blown away by how much meaning snowboarding had to them after such a small introductory experience. It was a moment where I realized that while we might teach hundreds of lessons each season – and they can blend together for us – for our students, those moments can be incredibly impactful and potentially life-changing. I use this teaching memory to make sure that whenever I’m out teaching or training, I am 100 percent clued into the moment and am there to provide an experience for those students.

What are your specialties in regards to your role as a team member?

I’m a member on the AASI Snowboard Team, but have been working with all of the disciplines on the Certification Standards and the Certification Standards Performance Guides for a few years now.

Any other relevant certifications?

AASI-certified Snowboard Level III. Children’s Specialist 2 and Freestyle Specialist 1 credentials.

Who is your greatest inspiration as an instructor?

I definitely do not have enough space to list them all, but here are a few to start:

  1.  Tom Vickery taught me how to be a better rider, clinician, examiner, and human! He oozes knowledge, skill, and style!
  2. KC Gandee was my examiner for my Level I when he was on the PSIA-AASI National Team. He showed me that instructing can be a career. Thank you!
  3. Ted Fleischer – at my Level II Exam he told me I should stick with teaching because I had potential to be an examiner one day. He was the first person to believe in me in this industry.
  4. Mark Marino and Dave Hirschberg are the two instructors that embody the most genuine people skills. They both love snowboarding and love people. When someone talks, they listen, they’re engaged, and they create genuine connections. I’ve learned so much from them.
  5. Robin Kisiel is a brilliant, passionate, and kind soul in this industry. She is an amazing people person, and she creates genuine connections that last the test of time. Oh…and she rips.
  6. Eric Rolls embodies professionalism in our organization without forgetting that FUN is supposed to always be present.
  7. Amy Bailey knows how to do the snowboard stuff pretty dang good and the people stuff even better! I learn a new thing from her every single day.

Best part of teaching?

  • Helping the next wave of snowboarders have an easier learning curve.
  • Making it so that my thousands of repetitions can be broken down and translated to my students so that they can get twice as good in half the amount of time.

Favorite run at your home mountain?

It’d be a tie between two natural trails at Mount Snow that fly very much under the radar. Jaws and Ledge are two all-natural, classic New England bump runs. They are narrow, winding, and have rocks and drops scattered throughout. Come visit me at Mount Snow and we’ll lap these until our legs have nothing left in the tank!