Industry Profile: Park City Snowboard Team Coach Reid Persing
16 Jun, 2009
Shay: So tell us about yourself?
Reid: I’m 26. I grew up on the East coast with some pretty cool parents who used our local hill as a babysitter when I was a kid. I moved to Colorado in 2001 to go to college at the University of Colorado and met some amazing people who opened lots of doors for me there. When I graduated in 2005 I moved to Utah for “one last full season of riding” before I had planned on applying to grad school. Three and a half years later and I still haven’t applied. me.
Shay: What is your job title?
Reid: I am a snowboard coach and the adaptive program head for the Park City Snowboard Team.
Shay: Did your parents question your job choice?
Reid: Not at all. My parents have always been very supportive of my lifestyle and I am extremely lucky to have them. I actually think my mom and dad are the first people to defend me when other people question my job choice.
Shay: What was your first set up?
Reid: I’m not really sure I can even remember. I think my first board was this disgusting looking K2 Dart. I have no idea what kind of bindings I had but I’m pretty sure that I had Vans boots. I do remember really wanting a Wild Duck snowboard and never getting one.
Shay: What is your current set up?
Reid: I am currently riding a Burton X8 155 for park, Burton Joystick 157 for powder, and I have a homemade Burton Seven 162 splitboard for going deeper. I ride Burton bindings all around and am currently riding Burton Sabbath boots.
Shay: What was your first job?
Reid: When I was in high school I worked as a lifeguard in the summer and at a local snowboard shop in the winter.
Shay: What’s a great day of snowboarding to you?
Reid: A great day of snowboarding is when you get home at the end of the day exhausted and totally satisfied with your day. This seems to happen most for me riding powder with my closest friends or riding with our team’s athletes.
Shay: Who are your influences?
Reid: My biggest influences are my co-workers at the Park City Snowboard Team and my good friends who come on ridiculous powder hounding missions with me.
Shay: How long have you been snowboarding?
Reid: I have been snowboarding for what feels like my whole life, but I guess it really only boils down to 13 – 14 years.
Shay: How long have you been coaching snowboarding?
Reid: I have only been coaching for 2 years now, but I was an athlete with a coach for 4 1/2 years before that.
Shay: How many days do you get to ride a year?
Reid: I don’t keep track, but I would guess I ride somewhere around 100 days a year.
Shay: How many days do you coach a year?
Reid: I coach about 60 days a year.
Shay: Who do you coach for?
Reid: I coach for the Park City Snowboard Team.
Shay: Who are your students and what do you focus on coaching?
Reid: Our athletes are snowboarders from Utah and across the world. They all share a love for snowboarding and a desire to take it to the next level. We are just there to support them and help them achieve their goals. In terms of focus, it really depends on the athlete. I’d say as long as everyone is having fun and learning your focusing on the right things.
Shay: How much traveling do you do as a coach?
Reid: I didn’t do a ton of traveling this winter but we did get to go to some really fun events. We traveled to several regional contests and just recently got back from USASA Nationals in Copper. Some of our athletes travel a good bit more than I did this winter.
Shay: How do you judge a student’s success?
Reid: I think a successful athlete is one who sets and achieves ambitious but attainable goals, rides hard, maintains a good attitude, and can sustain a healthy balance between snowboarding and the other things going on in their life. I’m not sure its a fair thing to judge, but I try to help all of my athletes succeed in each area.
Shay: What do you think the industry should do to welcome and bring in new snowboarders?
Reid: I don’t have much contact with “new” snowboarders so take my opinion here with a grain of salt, but I think its important to maintain price points in gear to reduce the financial barriers to participating in our sport. I also think its important to reach out in communities where snowboarding facilities exist to encourage people who don’t ride to participate in our sport.
Shay: You were a tester at Good Wood, how is that experience?
Reid: Good Wood is amazing. The test is run extremely professionally and I have a blast riding all the boards and seeing all my friends from across the country who participate in the test in one way or another.
Shay: Do you think the Good Wood Test is biased?
Reid: First I want to say that this is a loaded question and I am going to probably talk a bunch about it because of that. People love to talk trash about board tests and most of the time they either don’t know what they are talking about or don’t understand what goes into the test. I think that the Good Wood test is the cream of the crop as far as board tests go. There is some bias involved in any test, you can’t avoid it. People have different riding styles, prefer different things in boards, conditions change, and as much as you try to avoid it, people may have preconceived opinions about certain brands. In running a test, you want to do everything you can to eliminate these factors. The folks who put on Good Wood do an excellent job of this. They handpick a mature test team of people without industry brand connections or loyalties. They make the team large, so that lots of people ride each board, on different days, at different times, in a variety of conditions. No one’s opinion is weighted more than another’s, no one gets paid, no one gets bribed. Representatives from each participating company don’t have contact with the testers. The thing that everyone seems to focus in on is that there are graphics on the snowboards. Its true, there are graphics on the boards. In a perfect world test, there wouldn’t be graphics on the boards and you would have some system to hide the way your bindings attach too so you wouldn’t get any clues from that. But, heres the catch. While all snowboard companies are invited to participate in the test, the cost of doing so falls on their shoulders. They have to provide the boards, get them to the test, and get them back at the end. Snowboards are expensive, specially pressing several models of blank snowboards in full size runs is really, really, really expensive. So expensive actually, that it essentially prices most smaller companies out of the test. The organizers of Good Wood decided that it was better to have everyone participate than to test blank boards from the uber-giants of our industry. All the companies involved agreed, and I personally think it was the best available option too.
Shay: What education/experience/certification did you have prior to getting this job?
Reid: The Park City Snowboard Team is the first coaching job I have had. Prior to coaching I was a competitive athlete for several years. I was on a team similar to the one I coach for and had my own coach for 4 1/2 years, as well as working at camp for two summers. As far as certifications, I am a certified coach with both USSA and USASA.
Shay: Is coaching a year round job for you?
Reid: Nope. I am happy to get to spend some time away from snowboarding in the summers. It helps me lead a more balanced life. There are people who coach year round… they run a pretty crazy schedule.
Shay: What qualities make a good instructor or coach?
Reid: I think a good coach listens to and adapts to their athletes’ goals. Its important that a coach has a fair bit experience in and passion for what they are coaching, and understands that their athletes’ goals might not be identical to their own.
Shay: What other jobs/companies have you worked at?
Reid: In the snowboard world, I have also worked for High Cascade Snowboard Camp and the University of Colorado Snowboard Team.
Shay: Do you do any side projects for other companies?
Reid: Yes, I currently do some snowpack and avalanche outreach, education, and observation work with the Utah Avalanche Center. I work in environmental consulting during the summer months.
Shay: What influence do you see yourself having on snowboarding?
Reid: I’m not sure I see myself having a large influence on snowboarding. I’d like to think that I help the people I work with experience how awesome and multifaceted our sport is, and that this allows them make better decisions regarding their own snowboarding and their own lives.
Shay: What’s a typical day in your life?
Reid: In the winter, if I am coaching I am usually at the hill before the lifts start running. I meet my athletes and we spend most of the day riding together and “training”. I am usually off the hill sometime between 3 and 4, and after some paperwork and planning I am home and exhausted sometime between 5 and 6. Repeat. Even on days that I am not physically coaching, the job requires a fair amount of coordinating with athletes, planning, emailing and phone calls.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Reid: Watching the people I work with break down their mental barriers and succeed, traveling around the world with my best friends and meeting new people, finding myself in the middle of nowhere, with my best friends and perfect conditions. The day I realized I was making a living doing what I love should rank up there too.
Shay: How is working as a coach (any cool work events, work environment, job perks)?
Reid: Working as a coach is amazing, but not for everyone. My office is the mountain and I get to hang out with the coolest cats on the block. I get to be a part of the significant events in someone else’s snowboarding career, feed off their highs and try to turn around their lows. I also get to go a lot of neat places and meet lots of people while at work.
Shay: What’s the best perk you’ve gotten from your job?
Reid: By far the best part of coaching is getting to know and spend time with our athletes. They are an amazing group of people and they really are the reason that I seek out this job.
Shay: Any disadvantages of your job?
Reid: Every job has its disadvantages. Some days I am so sore that I don’t want to get out of bed, but I have to catch first chair to coach. I stand around at contests in the rain, wind and cold wondering what a surf coach does. I watch athletes get hurt. Sometimes I miss powder days. I spend a lot of time working that I don’t get paid for.
Shay: Since you started in the industry, what’s been the biggest change?
Reid: I think that the biggest change in the industry is that it has become more professional. This is a good thing. It allows more people to participate, opens doors, and makes sure that the people we trust to keep our industry afloat do just that.
Shay: What’s the busiest time of year for you?
Reid: The middle of winter and the middle of summer. Spring and fall are sort of in between season for me and i get to take some time off, reflect, and travel.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Reid: Neither is more important, you need the whole package. You can’t just read about how to do a job well and expect to excel, but you also can’t just be all school of hard knocks. I think you need some sort of formal education to help guide you, and the experience to know how to use your education well. But everyone has their own path.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Reid: If you want to do it for the right reasons, there is nothing holding you back and worlds of opportunity out there. Get after it and have fun! Its easy to get wrapped up in the industry though, don’t forget why you wanted to do it in the first place.
Shay: Final Thoughts?
Reid: “Don’t forget to enjoy it”… some of the best advice I ever got.
*Pictures courtesy of Reid Persing