Instructor to Instructor in Mammoth. Mammoth Mountain, in the southern reaches of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, is a bit of a paradox. It is the southern-most major ski resort in California, only 5 hours from Los Angeles, and yet it is also usually the last California ski resort to close its lifts for summer. I was there the last two weeks of April and skied great terrain and fabulous corn snow on all the steeps off of the Panorama Gondola and Chair 23.

The Professional Ski Instructors of America’s Western chapter took advantage of these conditions by choosing Mammoth to host their 2013 Spring Convention. Ski instructors, who spend most of the season teaching others, come to this event to learn from each other, improve their craft, and keep their certifications current (as well as play a little bit.) For three days they divide into groups and take clinics under the tutelage of ski and snowboarding industry greats, such as members of the PSIA alpine and snowboard demonstration teams, ex-world-cup racers and US national team coaches. In fact, of the 15 Alpine National Demonstration Team members, seven could be found at Mammoth Mountain that weekend, five of which led clinics for the PSIA-W event. The demo team members are selected once every four years on the basis of being the individuals deemed to best demonstrate and set the standard for alpine skiing and instruction in the US. Clinic topics varied from the very precise (one demo team member gave a clinic on turning the femur in the hip socket as it applies to skiing) to rather broad (“Boys Afternoon Out”).

So next time you are skiing in Mammoth in the Spring and you see large groups of skiers standing around and talking, before skiing off like a pack of wild animals chasing its prey, swing by and say hi, maybe they’ll throw you a tip or two.