The Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) recognizes four individuals for their commitment to snowsports education and acting as inspirational leaders.
Tom Long received the Distinguished Service Award, Mermer Blakeslee and Stacey Gerrish both were awarded the Educational Excellence Award, and Ed Younglove was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I’m thrilled about this year’s Award and Recognition recipients,” said Nicholas Herrin, PSIA-AASI’s Chief Executive Officer. “We are fortunate to have such strong leaders as part of our community. From improving our certification practices, learning materials, and organizational structure – Tom, Mermer, Stacey, and Ed’s commitment to lifelong adventures through education will leave a lasting impression on PSIA-AASI, and the snowsports industry.”
“PSIA-AASI is all about community – helping each other train and challenging each other so we can all excel as teachers and leaders,” said PSIA-AASI Awards and Recognition Chair Robin May. “This year’s award recipients gave their time, insight, and expertise to the association so our members could improve their skills and the guest experience. Our awards program is special as it gives us the opportunity to celebrate individuals’ accomplishments that helped strength our association – and recognizing our members outstanding achievements is important.”
Distinguished Service Award
This award recognizes long-term members who have made important contributions that have added to the success of PSIA-AASI and its initiatives. Long, a PSIA-AASI member for over 50 years, has displayed commitment and dedication to the association by creating and implementing educational programing and initiatives, including the three-level certification system.
Long, a PSIA-AASI Lifetime Member and New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame Inductee, helped PSIA develop the three-tiered certification approach; making attaining a PSIA-AASI certification more accessible to newer instructors and helping more members attain their first level of certification.
Long’s inclusive approach to snowsports extended beyond certification levels – he welcomed snowboarding and adaptive disciplines into the association and helped educators in these disciplines develop their own set of certification standards. “Tom Long has prioritized our organization,” said Dana Forbes, PSIA-AASI Rocky Mountain division’s Chief Executive Officer. “He did so with integrity and grit because he is an educator at heart.”
Educational Excellence Award
The Educational Excellence Award recognizes those exceptional few members who have authored PSIA-AASI educational materials over the years. Through their commitment to improving educational resources to helping instructors make learning to ski or snowboard fun and easy for their guests, Blakeslee and Gerrish have both significantly added to, and changed, the educational direction of PSIA-AASI.
Blakeslee is a dedicated instructor who inspired many to be better skiers and teachers. A member of PSIA-AASI since 1981, she is a former member of the PSIA-AASI National Team (1996-2000), PSIA-AASI examiner emeritus for the Eastern Division, Nancy Oakes Hall Women’s Scholarship Committee Member, former Eastern Division Development Team coach, and author of A Conversation with Fear (formerly In the Yikes! Zone). At Windham Mountain, New York, she created and directs two one-of-a-kind programs, The Fear Workshop and PowerLearn®.
Blakeslee is committed to destigmatizing fear by showing that fear is not a weakness, and that students can use skills to overcome their fears. Her non-fiction book about the psychology of skiing and teaching, A Conversation with Fear (2012) helped many snowsports enthusiasts take their skills to the next level. She also supported PSIA-AASI educational products including Core Concepts for Snowsports Instructors. “Mermer wrote for the association and individually to highlight the importance of emotions and how they play into learning and teaching,” said Katie Ertl, senior vice president of mountain operations at Aspen Skiing Company, sharing that Blakeslee promoted, “the importance of soft skills, relationship building, and connection to the guest.”
Gerrish’s dedication to education has landed her squarely in the development of several PSIA-AASI publications, including Core Concepts for Snowsports Instructors, the Children’s Instruction Manual, 2nd edition, the Alpine Children’s Teaching Handbook, and the Snowboard Teaching Handbook. In total, Gerrish has helped author or review seven PSIA-AASI educational products. A member of PSIA-AASI for over 30 years, her credentials include Rocky Mountain Division Trainer, and Rocky Mountain Children’s Education Committee Chair, and Children’s Specialist Task Force member.
In addition to her writing, she is a great teacher. “Any clinic she offers will have a wait list,” said Greg Willis, Sr. Director Skier Services at Beaver Creek Resort. “She inspires others to better themselves and grow as educators by delivering the information with a fresh perspective that is incredibly creative, and effective.”
Lifetime Achievement Award
This award recognizes exceptional members who have designed and implemented programs, projects, and procedures affecting the association on a national level. This season, PSIA-AASI recognized Ed Younglove. Younglove’s patience and commitment to continuity has helped form the long-term vision of PSIA-AASI.
Elected to the Northwest board in 1995, Younglove has served as President on the Northwest Board of Directors for five years, two terms as Chair of the Presidents Council, and three terms as the Chair of the National Board of Directors. His dedication and devotion to the association helped build PSIA-AASI’s current organizational structure based around Governance to best serve members.
“A lifetime of achievement can only be met if one is continually willing to work hard, challenge others, build positive and influential relationships, and act with kindness and consideration along the way – this is Ed,” said PSIA-AASI Chair of the Board Eliza Kuntz.
“In his roles, Ed always led with stable and consistent dedication. His levelheaded approach has brought tremendous value to this organization,” said Herrin. “Ed worked seamlessly with leaders across all levels of the organization to better align PSIA-AASI’s vision and goals… His attention to effective leadership frameworks helped create an organizational structure that will continue to help leaders work collectively to achieve results.”
Previous Award Recipients Recognized In-Person
The Awards and Recognition Ceremony also honored 2019 and 2020 recipients in-person for the first time. With National Academy 2020 canceled last spring, 2019 and 2020 award recipients Katie Brinton, Krista Clayton, Mark Dorsey, Jae McKeown, Stephen Over, Shannon Schiner, Kim Seevers, and Francisco Zampini Davies were honored alongside 2021 recipients.