Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

July 2010

The extra point this month is based on some notes Virginia Simmon couldn’t fit into her cover piece on the guys from Cedar Ridge Builders. I’ll let Virginia tell the story.

During the interview, I noticed that John Skutel, one of the owners of Cedar Ledge, mentioned that he had been a ski instructor at Smugglers’ Notch for eight years. Curious about how he got that job, I asked him.

“It’s a funny story,” he said. “I didn’t grow up in Vermont. We cross-country skied a lot, but couldn’t afford to go downhill, so I never had done any downhill so to speak. But I had taught — soccer and, in the service, was a remedial math instructor.”

He and his family were living in Fairfax and their girls were little. It was the late ’80s, early ’90s, he said. He saw a promotion for the Let’s Get Vermont Skiing program, where any Vermonter could have a free day of skiing.

“We went and skied for a day with the girls, said, ‘This is fun,’ and went home. He saw an ad in the newspaper for lift attendants at Smugglers’ Notch and thought, “I can do that, and the skiing is free!”

He called and was told that all those jobs were filled, but that ski instructor positions were open.

“I said, ‘I’ve only done cross-country, not downhill. But they suggested I just go try, so I did.

“The first day, 50 to 60 people showed up. They cut half the people, and I made the cut. The next day, they cut half the people; I made the cut. I’m looking at the people thinking, ‘These guys are great skiers; why am I staying?’

“So on it went until the last day and I went up to the chief instructor and said, ‘What’s the deal here? I’m not a good skier.’

“He said, ‘No, you’re not a good skier, but you’re a good teacher. We can teach you to ski; we can’t teach you to teach.’ So I taught the kids’ program for about eight years and got to be a pretty good skier.”