Spotlight On Jonathan Ballou Of Ski & Snowboard Schools

Jonathan Ballou

Jonathan Ballou's contributions to the skiing go way beyond his role as Managing Director of the Aspen Snowmass Ski & Snowboard Schools. His appointment as a two-term member of the Professional Ski Instructors of America Alpine (PSIA) Team validates him as not only one of the best skiers around, but as an inspirational educator, and lifelong learner. Jonathan is among the few who set the standard for U.S. snow-sports instruction. He also travels approximately 130,000 miles per year to six to eight countries to consult on ski technique and obtain input to keep the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen Snowmass on the cutting edge.
Jonathan Ballou: Aspen Snowmass Ski & Snowboard Schools
How long have you been with Aspen Snowmass? How did you get started in ski instruction?

I’ve been with Aspen Snowmass the last 19 years, starting in 1999 as a ski pro (instructor). My first job as a ski instructor was at Mt. Brighton, near Ann Arbor, Michigan when I was a freshman in high school. I studied music at Western Michigan University and the University of Michigan, but determined skiing was my passion. I’ve been teaching skiing for 28 years.
What brought you to Aspen?

Upon leaving Michigan, I taught skiing in Steamboat Springs for three years and loved it. In 1999, I was recruited by Julian Gregory, who was then the manager of the Snowmass Ski & Snowboard School. I was in Vail attending the World Synchronized Skiing Championship in support of Steamboat’s team. The Aspen Skiing Company offered more education, opportunity, and inspiration than any other ski areas in North America. The comprehensive training program and level of professionalism of the school was what first attracted me. The overall company values by the company in their respect for their employees, involvement with the community, and willingness to take action on social issues is what has inspired me to stay.
What other ways are you involved in the ski industry?

As a member of the 13-person PSIA National Alpine Team, I help develop the standards by which skiing is taught in the U.S. and train instructors of all levels, both domestically and abroad. Internationally, I represent U.S. techniques and methodology through consulting and training, regularly visiting New Zealand, Europe and China. Regionally, I have also been the Technical Chair for the Rocky Mountain Division of PSIA since 2008. From 2010 to 2017, I was the Education Coordinator for the New Zealand Ski Instructors Alliance.

Jonathan Ballou: Aspen Snowmass Ski & Snowboard Schools

Jonathan Ballou: Aspen Snowmass Ski & Snowboard Schools

Where is your favorite place to ski outside the U.S.?

I’d have to say Austria would be my favorite outside of the U.S. Switzerland is a close second. The culture of skiing and love for snow-sports is palpable is all areas of the country. After all, it is their national sport. This year I will have traveled to Austria, China, New Zealand, and Argentina for recruitment and consulting.

Traveling internationally is important to me professionally and personally. I obtain input for the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen Snowmass. This keeps us involved in what’s happening internationally and competitive with the top schools in the world. We also want to be familiar with the needs of our international guests and be cutting edge in the market.
What are your proudest accomplishments – at Aspen Snowmass and within the ski industry in general?

Personally, I’m honored to be selected for the U.S. National Alpine Team for two terms to represent the U.S. around the world. Professionally, I feel that there is no other ski & snowboard school with the caliber and credentials that the Aspen Snowmass Ski & Snowboard Schools has. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to lead this group. There are hundreds of others in our school that have the credentials to do this job and to be given this honor is truly humbling.
How do you spend your summers?

I used to spend my summers in New Zealand. This summer my primary job is heading up our summer operations – Camp Aspen Snowmass, Bike School, Guided Programs, Paintball and Day Care.
What other sports do you enjoy in the summer?

I enjoy road and mountain biking and Olympic lifting. I also like to hike with my wife and my dogs.
It’s a powder day in Aspen Snowmass, where do you ski?

In the trees on the eastern side of Highlands on Temerity.
What’s the most important tip you would give a terminal intermediate skier on how to improve?

Everyone is different, but one of the biggest obstacles to our improvement is ourselves, our own understanding, and our intentions. Our team of professionals is great at getting to know people, what motivates them, and what is meaningful to them. With an open mindset and a willingness to try new skills, someone can be skiing better than they ever imagined. Therefore, the best advice I can give is ask questions, strive for excellence, and spend some time with one of our pros.
Published July 2018

About The Author

Susan Linden, writer


Susan Linden has been wordsmithing as an advertising copywriter, feature writer, and storyteller since her college days. She left the whirlwind corporate world to live in the mountains and spends as much time as she can hiking, biking, and skiing in them. Working, playing, and raising a family in the Roaring Fork Valley for the last 29 years gives Susan a unique insider’s perspective to share.

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