South Lake Tahoe - They thought they were good skiers. But after making their way down the mountain with some of the best instructors and coaches in Tahoe, a group of snowsport enthusiasts is thinking otherwise.
Welcome to the Peak Performance Academy. This weekend, Heavenly Mountain Resort launched the new clinics that feature the best of the best when it comes to snowboarding and skiing instructors. As Russ Pecoraro, Director of Communications for Heavenly, puts it: these are the instructors who teach other instructors; not just at Heavenly but throughout the West Coast.
These new three-day to five-day clinics allow anyone who's an intermediate or advanced skier or snowboarder to train with these coaches. The Academy is also a chance for the resort to showcase some of the premier talent it has on staff. While a lot of people ski and ride here, they may not know that Heavenly boasts the most members of the Professional Ski Instructors of America and America Association of Snowboard Instructors National Demo Teams.
That kind of expertise is what attracted Mary Pat Waterhouse, who signed up for the very first three-day clinic. She lives in Hawaii, but she says she came to Heavenly for this clinic because she wanted to learn from the best.
"I just didn't want a lesson from anyone," says Waterhouse, who admitted the clinic was surpassing even her high expectations. "I really wanted to learn a lot and I'm learning more than I thought I was going to learn. Every run, they're teaching us something new."
She says these instructors refuse to go easy on their students and she likes that intensity. Still, it's not more than she can handle. Participants have been divided up into groups, which do not exceed five members.
"The small classes really help," says Mark Williams, another participant. "We instantly get to know each other. It's been a lot of fun."
While he's enjoying the camaraderie, that's not what attracted Williams to the academy in the first place. The South Lake Tahoe resident, who considers himself an advanced skier, wanted to take his skills to the next level.
"The instructors are amazing," says Williams, who admits the experience has been humbling. "I would recommend it to intermediate -- and people who think they're advanced -- skiers."
Tim Rankins, one of the instructors of the Peak Performance Academy, says a goal of these clinics to is to show people that ski school isn't just for beginners.
"Peak Performance is for honing your skills," says Rankins. "To become not just a better skier, to learn more of a lifelong passion for the sport and be able to take it all over the world, different countries, different ski areas, and be able to ski more terrain and enjoy it more."
Heavenly will host more of these multi-day clinic in February and March. For more information, head here: