Love, Fun, and Excitement! First-Time Academy Attendees Share Their Experience

Awards, recognition, and scholarships like those that were shared at the Yellowstone Conference Center at Big Sky, Montana, last week, often provide a welcome introduction for first-time attendees to experience PSIA-AASI National Academies for themselves.

Four deserving instructors were not only honored for their achievements that night, they also got to enjoy a full week of training and coaching with some of the most talented instructors on the planet.

“As a young person – I’m 23 – I was expecting to be on the younger end of attendees,” said Liz Lozinger, who along with Cortney Bayuk was honored with the Top of the Course Award. “The event exceeded my expectations and was so much more fun than I ever thought possible. The participants were full of energy and excitement and together we formed a fantastic team and supportive learning environment.”

She added, “The National Team members know everything there is to know about snowboarding! It’s pretty mind blowing. The coaching I received was on point and changed my riding in just five short days. What stands out the most is the love that could be felt in each of the riding groups. I’ll be thinking of Rider Rally all summer, and I can’t wait to come back and experience it again!”

One of the highlights for Cortney was, “getting to ski and spend time with folks who are so passionate about sliding on snow,” she said. As was, “Watching people have so much fun and seeing them learn and ‘unlock’ their next level. I also got to go skiing with an all-ladies group for one of the electives while making new friends and industry connections.”

Nick Nagey, who was honored with the Angus Graham Rising Star Award said, “I think my favorite part is how the similarities with which we approach teaching in general have taken over and it’s created a really supportive setting where I have felt free to make mistakes and learn.”

And Michael O’Neill, who received the 3 C’s Award, noted that National Academy was an awesome experience. “I’m just a kid from Upstate New York who likes to help people enjoy skiing, and I had no idea what to expect. The clinics were fantastic. To anybody who’s considering attending an Academy, I would invite them to c’mon out!’”

Vail’s Logan Academy and Big Sky’s own scholarship program also provide instructors with the opportunity to attend National Academies. Local instructor Lauren Stanley said a Big Sky resort scholarship allowed her to participate, and “The whole experience was even cooler than I thought it could be. It’s so much more than just skiing. The boot clinic in particular really showed me why I turn the way I do.”

Fellow Big Sky instructor Drew Hayes said, “For six years I’ve been very curious about Academy when it rolls through. This week gave me a great opportunity to fine-tune my freestyle and big mountain riding with some fun people.”

Breckenridge instructor Hans Schlosser said he and two other second-year ski instructors had their interest piqued when “we saw how quickly the event sold out last year.”

“Now that we’re here we see how welcoming a community it is,” Hans said. “There are no egos here. Everybody is at peace, focusing on the challenge of big mountain skiing and making an investment in their own abilities.”

First-year Breckenridge snowboard instructor Vince Nguyen, who booked a solo trip to the big event, summed it up perfectly: “I came into snowboarding and got hooked immediately. When I first heard about this event, I decided I had to see what the excitement was all about and to ride with people like [AASI Assistant and Development Coach] Tony Macri.”