Updated: May 18, 2022
As Powderfall wrapped up, I think there was one thing that I heard echoed across many patrols from various states…. “This was such a great event, I learned so much."
For those that are not aware, Powderfall is an event that the National Ski Patrol (NSP) puts on every other year. It’s an event over several days with many different clinics and chances to network with patrollers from across the country. Clinics range from steep and deep tobogganing, to watching aerial life evacuations, to avalanche dog demonstrations, to being updated on the newest Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) material, and so much more. Powderfall does an excellent job of having a wide variety of clinics to meet the interest of patrollers from every area.
I could sit here and talk about Powderfall all day long and about all the benefits I gained from attending. But I would like to share some of my fellow patrollers thoughts and insights about Powderfall.
Why did you decide to sign up for Powderfall?
CC: I signed up for Powderfall because I wanted to expand my knowledge of the National Ski Patrol through NSP electives and meet patrollers from across the country.
JG: I attended the previous Powderfall and enjoyed all the classes that were offered and the networking opportunities with other patrollers across the country.
TB: I decided to sign up for Powderfall because I thought it would be a great opportunity to see more of the country and to expand my knowledge.
AM: I decided to sign up for Powderfall because I love patrolling! This seemed like a great opportunity to grow as a patroller and to get to spend a week with other people from across the country that also love patrolling. Plus, I am always looking for ways to further my skills as a ski patroller.
What clinics did you attend?
CC: I attended “See the world through Certified eyes” (both classroom and on-hill), Introduction to Rescue Rigging, and a Full-Day PSIA skiing lesson.
JG: I attended the PSIA instruction courses as well as introduction to certified.
AM: I attended a full day PSIA lesson with a D-team member, did a few Certified classes (on hill and a classroom session), introduction to Rescue Rigging where I was able to meet a mentor that has helped Jon O’Dell and is currently helping Dave Boboltz (small world!). And I was fortunate to be able to get into a women’s steep and deep tobogganing class, where I was pushed outside my comfort zone in a very fun and supportive environment.
What was your favorite part of Powderfall?
CC: My favorite part of Powderfall was being able to talk with and meet dozens of patrollers from every corner of country. Through this I was able to share and receive information about day-to-day patrol operations, new techniques for mitigating risk, tobogganing techniques, etc.
JG: My favorite part of Powderfall was meeting new patrollers as well as hanging out with my fellow Mt Holly patrollers. Team building goes beyond the hill. Some of the best bonding opportunities come from having fun together. We had conversations with patrollers from other areas as well who have detailed how things are done at their resorts. Some of these conversations can lead to improvements in the way we do things.
AM: It’s hard to list one favorite part. I truly enjoyed meeting and talking to patrollers from all different states and hearing their patrol stories, how they did things and why they decided to become a ski patroller. One thing that really made me smile was when I wore my Mt. Holly shirt to one of the receptions and multiple people stopped to talk to me about how they grew up skiing at Mt. Holly!
I think another huge part of Powderfall that I enjoyed was the supportive environment. I struggle with self-confidence/imposter syndrome often. Powderfall was a great event where I felt everyone pushed me to be a better version of myself and were very supportive and welcoming in every clinic I attended! I also was able to pick up many tips that hopefully I can incorporate into my future teaching endeavors with the Mt. Holly Ski Patrol.
How do you think Powderfall made you a better patroller?
CC: Powderfall made me a better patroller by teaching me new skills from the industry’s best. Through their guidance and knowledge, I was able to practice these new skills that I can use at my home patrol.
JG: I think it helps to make me a better skier but that is because those are the classes I chose to focus on. There are many classes focused on medical training as well.
AM: Powderfall not only allowed me to work on my skiing and tobogganing skills, but it was also a great event to boost my self-confidence. Furthermore, as I talked with many different patrollers, I learned so much more about how and why different resorts do specific things and even why Central Division does certain things. I found this very helpful because I am always someone that is asking 'why'; I like to know the reasoning behind decisions. Powderfall also made me realize that I should be getting out and visiting other resorts more often to make myself a more rounded patroller. There is so much that we can learn and bring back to our own patrols by talking with other patrols/divisions!
Would you recommend Powderfall to other patrollers? Why?
CC: I would absolutely recommend this to other patrollers. The entire trip was revolved around making better ski patrollers the best that they can be.
JG: I would recommend Powderfall to all patrollers. It is an event that offers a lot of experiences in a stress-free environment surrounded by people interested in making you a better patroller. A lot of times we are under a lot pressure whether it be in the form of an exam or when treating a patient. I think these exercises and classes help to build confidence and skills for the real life scenarios as well as sound decision making.
TB: Powderfall is an event that I would 100% recommend to any patroller. In reality it has something for everybody. If you want to network, the dinners and social events are the place to be. If you want training, sign up for as many clinics as you can. Truly, I had an amazing time, and if you can sign up for Powderfall, the experience will definitely be worth it.
CH: A very fun, interesting, helpful, and worthwhile endeavor. I [would] recommend it for any ski patroller.
AM: I for sure would recommend Powderfall to other patrollers. I am biased, but I think Mt. Holly does a great job with OEC and on hill training. However, Powderfall allows you some opportunities that you just cannot get at Holly. It also allows you to talk to other patrollers and to hear about how they do things which I think is always a great opportunity to re-evaluate how things are done at your home patrol. Furthermore, it is an all around great event if you want to network, be surrounded around people that love patrolling as much as you do....and get a chance to take some really fun, cool, unique classes that may not be available to you on a normal basis.
Anything else you would like to add?
CC: I have been on a few trips to ski the Rocky Mountains, Powderfall 2022 was by far the best trip that I have been on.
JG: I know we have some of the best instructors in the region but these are instructors recognized as the best in the entire country and on terrain that is more difficult than anything we will ever see in the midwest. I think the biggest takeaway for me came from skiing with Mike Hafer. He had several great drills but for me I thought it was more about his delivery of information that stood out. While I know some of the skills he focused on are going to help me to be a better skier and patroller I really hope to use some of his teaching tactics to make my fellow patrollers better. These teaching tactics were not something that Mike was focusing on but it sure stood out to me. There are also social events after the lifts have closed for the day which become a chance to meet and discuss many topics that have relevance in our daily patrols or just to network.
I was [also] able to talk with two national board members as well as the CEO of the NSP on this trip. It was nice to talk to the board members about topics that are important to our small patrol back home.
Powderfall had around 700 participants this year that came from all across country. Chris, Travis and myself drove out to Colorado and when we were nearing Denver we saw someone with a NSP sticker on their vehicle and Travis quickly got the drivers attention and pointed to his own NSP logo on his zip-up. He acknowledged us and gave us a big smile. As I write this, I know it sounds silly, but we thought it was pretty awesome!
Mt. Holly had six patrollers that attended. Jamie mentioned that he would love to see more Holly patrollers take advantage of this excellent opportunity because many resorts use it as a bonding experience. It appeared that Pine Knob had around 15-20 patrollers at Powderfall and Cataloochee (Joeys future patrol!) had over 30. Overall, Central Division was very well represented during Powderfall 2022. It was great getting to make new friends from all the different divisions, as well as getting to catch up with familiar faces from Central Division.
We all hope that more patrollers look into attending Powderfall 2024.... maybe even get a group together to try the Patroller games! We all had a great experience, and would love to discuss or answer any questions anyone has about our time at Breckenridge Powderfall 2022 (leave a comment below!).