32 Degrees: Last Run – The Turns That Bind

This “Last Run” column, written by PSIA-AASI Lead Writer Peter Kray, appears in the Spring 2024 Issue of 32 Degrees. You can read the entire digital edition by logging in and visiting the 32 Degrees page on our website.


I grew up skiing Vail in the ’70s. It was a magical time, speeding down groomers like Swingsville and Whistle Pig off Chair 4 until I slowly started challenging the moguls on Look Ma, Highline, and Prima – where I once took such a hard fall that patrol took me down in a toboggan.

Dad was a volunteer with National Ski Patrol then, and the guys who carted me down were his buddies. I’m sure they knew I was more scared than hurt, but still wrapped my arm in an Ace bandage that was already unraveling behind me as I chased my brother across a deck at the base of Golden Peak.

In the winter, it was understood that every Friday night our butts would be in the seats right behind Mom and Dad – often with Toby the German Shepherd between us – driving west up I-70 in our baby blue hatchback Volkswagen (pictured in the photo above). My parents’ friends, Don and Shirley Welch, worked at the Vail Ski School and had a house in East Vail, so we often stayed with them. Caravaning to the hill for our weekly ski lesson one Saturday morning, I remember my brother watching the rising sun illuminate the powder floating off the trees on the peaks. “It’s like they’re smoking,” he said.

Each day in class, I expected to make new best friends, explore new parts of the mountain, and learning a better way to turn. Also, how it felt skiing Forever (still one of my favorite runs) in the Back Bowls with my dad on a powder day, with him beaming at me as he asked, “Did you feel it, the floating?”

Back to the Start

Of course, it’s the news that PSIA-AASI – in partnership with Vail Mountain and the Town of Vail – will host Interski Congress, April 3-10, 2027, that pushed all these memories to the front of my mind again.

Even though I’ve called New Mexico home for two and a half decades, I’m still “from” Colorado. There’s a sense of pride in being able to watch past and present members of the PSIA-AASI National Team – many of whom call Vail home – get to play host to the world and continue to set the line for the future of snowsports instruction.

It’s been more than 50 years, since Aspen hosted Interski in 1968, that PSIA-AASI has had the opportunity to extend the same hospitality to its international colleagues that Interski Congresses in Finland (2023), Bulgaria (2019), Argentina (2015), and Austria (2011) have shown to them.

As new U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame member and former PSIA Alpine Team Coach Mike Porter said of the upcoming event, “Every Interski we attend, our association takes our best ideas to share with the international snowsports instruction community. Bringing that community to Vail will give those instructors an even clearer picture of where those ideas come from, and how they inform why we teach the way we do.”

Nothing magnifies the way you see where you live, and what you do, more than watching someone else see it for the first time. It’s fascinating to think about what local Vail instructors – and PSIA-AASI members from across the country – will take away from having the 2027 Interski take place in their own, American stomping grounds.

More Than a Lesson

Snowsports instruction takes place in wild and varied places, in ever-changing conditions. Ditto for the thoughts, emotions, and expectations of both student and teacher. Interski consistently creates a venue where instructors from Australia, Asia, South America, Europe, and right here in North America can keep sharing new ideas and practices for naturally imperfect situations.

Like every lesson, and every day on snow, it also provides a stage for skiers and riders to come together to create new memories etched in time.

Sharing the slopes with talented, thought-provoking, constantly questioning professionals at four Interskis has provided more memories than I could begin to list in this column. To see Interski happen in Vail in 2027 will feel like bringing all those memories home.