Ripples of a Tap
by Rob Crawford
Full disclosure: This story is told by the father of the “tapped, and a good friend of the “tapper”. Author of this account cannot be held accountable for any truths or objectivity.
In order to give context, we need to jump into the way-back machine and go to 2009. The tapped (here unto referred to as JC) was a long-haired 18-year-old trying to find his way in the world. The college thing wasn’t working out very well as there was nothing that interested him. JC needed something to do and some money to pay off the student loans that were accumulated from prior well-intentioned-but poorly-executed attempts at education. He took a job at the Lionshead Children’s Ski School in Vail where his father had begun a short career just 22 years prior. JC’s mother was a long-time supervisor and manager with the Beaver Creek Ski School. JC was raised in the Beavo program and took a liking to snowboarding at the age of 8 to be different from his family. His dad, after a 6-season stint with the ski school, had moved on to work in the construction melee for the last 17 years when the economy bottomed out in 2008 to leave him on his couch – depressed and broke. JC had re-taken up skiing at the age of 14 to find out that it was pretty damn fun when you have all of those new-found muscles to leave trenches in the snow. While teaching at LHC, JC found that he wasn’t half bad at this profession of skiing around with kids, laughing at fart jokes, and getting paid to do it. He was still in the process of trying to find out what he wanted to do for the so-called “real job” JC spent some time on a ranch in Wyoming long enough to find out that he missed skiing every damn day. During the time on the ranch, JC was teaching part time and his skiing ability was coming along. The ranch life came to a thankful halt, and JC took to teaching full time. In the time that JC had been finding his way, his old man had decided that the $9.25 per hour that his old ski school was offering was exactly $9.25 per hour more than he was making in the struggling construction industry. While that pittance was not enough to pay for the accumulating debt of the failed construction company, the job pulled him out of a dark time. Dad was finding out that he wasn’t all bad either, despite what his bank and societal norms told him.
JC was out skiing with his level 7 private lesson in February of 2015 on a sunny day in Vail just above chair 4. In the ski school line was standing the tenured “Tapper” (here unto referred to as DA). DA noticed JC’s turns coming down toward the chair, but the kid went to the other side of the lift line. DA, against all advice of the ski school, told his private lesson that he would meet them at the top of the chair. He had to find out who this person was who was making these turns that he did not recognize as the ski school standard. DA went to the other side of the line, stood behind JC and gently tapped him on the pole.
“Hey, who are you?”
“Are you R & C’s son?”
“Well, those are some beautiful turns you’re making up there. We need to get you out skiing with the big guns. Porter, Webster, Metz’s and the like”.
JC remembers this interaction vividly. This was the point where he was recognized as a potential talent and realized that he had a purpose in this life. The reverberations from that tap are still being felt. JC went on to work with those big guns and he received the kind of coaching that created a passion for him to reach for the top shelf of PSIA.
It’s important to recognize that that tap did not only affect young JC. That tap inspired JC to a point that his old man was moved by JC’s passion. Lucky for dad, he received his own tap from Mrs Metz during cert camp in 2013 at 11:34AM on the bottom of Born Free. Father and son can only be analogized by the likes of two dogs chasing a shadow. Each one trying to outrun the other, not entirely sure of what they are chasing…but it sure is fun!
As I write this, I can only try to imagine where John and I would be today if it were not for Dave Alonzo taking those couple of minutes to recognize and inspire. Thank you David Alonzo. The Crawford family will always be in your debt.
I’m sure that there are folks that have left the sliding-on-snow industry who were potentially great instructors who did not get to receive a tap. We should work to keep good people around. It literally takes two minutes to change someone’s destiny. Who will you tap?