Ari Gutman, a physician from Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, has been named the Ski Ambassador of the Year for the Learn to Ski and Snowboard (Month)/Bring a Friend initiative. Dr. Gutman took his two sons, Jonathan (14) and Matthew (13) to Spring Mountain, Pennsylvania for lessons and entered the Bring a Friend Challenge.
The Challenge rewards those who take the time to encourage others to learn by taking lessons from professional instructors.
“My kids are just learning to ski. Bringing my kids skiing with me is important because it's a passion I get to share with them,” Gutman told SnoCountry.com. “Family time is already limited due to a busy work life, so being able to take the time to doing something enjoyable together is important.”
He joins Cindy Rust, Snowboard Ambassador of the Year, as a winner. Rust is a science teacher from Post Falls, Idaho. Rust also captured the top slot in the Challenge last year when only one Ambassador was chosen. This year, the Challenge awarded two slots – one for snowboard and one for ski.
Rust helped more than 20 students sign up for ski or snowboard beginner lessons. “The local mountains, like Mt. Spokane and Schweitzer, are really supportive. They understand that locals are their base,” Rust told us.
Post Fall’s club started six years ago with 19 students and has grown to over 100 today. Rust has also helped two other local schools start ski clubs. “We get the three clubs together at the mountains with a hope of building a stronger youth community,” she said.
Rust’s focus on building community through snowsports has allowed her to reach a large number of kids who might not otherwise have the opportunity. “We give them the opportunity to learn and grow in the sport,” Rust told us.
“When the more experienced kids are required to take lessons, I encourage them to take a lesson in the opposite sport (skiing or snowboarding). They get the chance to learn something new," she said. Advanced students also took part in an avalanche safety course.
Rust says that students are being introduced to people and businesses, making connections for the future including topics that may interest them in a later career relating to science, weather, filmmaking, instructing, and Special Olympics. She says her students are becoming environmental stewards and have a vested interest in the local environment.
Photos: Top - The Bring A Friend Challenge rewards those who take the time to encourage others to learn by taking lessons from professional instructor. (Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month/Facebook); Below - Students at Post Falls, Idaho board at Schweitzer thanks to Cindy Rust, Snowboard Ambassador of the Year (Cindy Rust)