Our expert instructors come from all over the world to share their passion and expertise for skiing and riding. Learn more about some of our on-mountain celebrities, and don't forget to say "hi" when you see them on the slopes!
An artist by trade, Steve Beutler got his start working at Hallmark Cards and then as an art director at The Kansas City Star. His travels brought him to Telluride, and he and his wife eventually moved to Montrose for a life filled with skiing, the outdoors and adventure. They dove headfirst into small-town life, becoming involved in the community and with Special Olympics.
Steve started volunteering with the Telluride Adaptive Sports program, where he learned to be a better skier. “I get so much more back than I put in,” he confesses. He decided to put his new ski skills to use at the Telluride Ski School, teaching the “Otters” program for three- and four-year-olds. When he noticed that the artwork within the ski school needed refreshing, he took it upon himself to create the characters guests see on the walls in the Ski School today.
Steve prefers to keep his lessons loosely structured, allowing for fun and freedom while still focusing on safety. He loves seeing his clients return year after year and watching their progress. “I get so much reward seeing kids who have never put skis on move from there to skiing down See Forever, to then sharing runs with their parents. There really isn’t a better feeling.”
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
Favorite On-Mountain Run: The Plunge
Growing up as one of seven, “if you forgot your boots, you sat in the car all day while everyone else skied.” Cindy Smith grew up skiing with the whole family. Ultimately she left her mountain-mongering upstate New York roots for Missoula, where she studied wildlife and learned to love Rocky Mountain powder.
Graduating in 1979, Cindy and two college friends moved to Telluride. The following April, she took an interest in ski school tryouts. Being one of the only women to tryout, she met local legends like Jack D’Angelo, Annie Savath and Marti Martin-Kuntz. Making the team sealed the deal, and Telluride became home. “The sunset here changes every day. And the people are as amazing as the mountain,” she notes.
Cindy is the type of instructor who will adapt to each type of skier and continue teaching the most comprehensive methodologies and practices to keep you at the top of your on-mountain game. She knows the ins and outs of fundamentals and how they apply to skiing at any level. “This town and this mountain challenge your attitude and push you to be positive,” she says. “How can you not be positive with this place as your playground?”
Hometown: Syracuse, NY
Favorite On-Mountain Run: Dynamo
Some say the toughest of skiers grow up skiing back East because the slopes are often solid ice. Heather Baltzley is no exception. Growing up in Erie, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Massachusetts, she skied primarily at Bolton Valley in Vermont during her upbringing but, admittedly, wasn’t that passionate until she moved to Telluride.
Heather switched to snowboarding as a teen and first visited Telluride to attend a Snowboarding Camp. The camp had been canceled, but that was no problem for Michael “Spicky” Blanton. He took Heather under his wing, showed her around the mountain over the four days she was here and even took her out in the evenings with the Ski School crew. This experience lead her to return to Telluride the following fall for “just one season.”
That single season has now turned into 18. She switched back to skiing five years after moving to Telluride, and found use for her background in graphic design at Wagner Custom Skis. She has now been their graphic designer for nine years and finds great reward in making people’s design dreams come to fruition.
In the summers, Heather teaches outdoor education through NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School, working with students 16 years and older, from everyday kids to Naval midshipmen. “Being able to teach that level of independence is incredible,” she states, “I love watching students gain confidence and eventually have the ability to ski or backpack by themselves.” Her passion for the mountains and love of teaching shines through. “One student told me, ‘You make me believe I can do anything,’’ she recounts.
“It’s the greatest compliment I’ve ever received.”
Hometown: Erie, PA...then Vermont and Massachusetts
Favorite Restaurants: Alpino Vino (of course) and Cosmo
Australia. Switzerland. Austria. New Zealand. Aspen. Whistler. Telluride. Having skied year-round for twelve of his twenty-six years of instructing, John Balmain became a ski instructor at age 19 and never looked back. Sales and marketing were an intriguing education and background, but skiing was always his focus and passion.
Since graduating with a Bachelor’s of Commerce from The University of Wollongong, John was able to hone his slope skills in some of the most incredible locations in the world before settling in Telluride. Looking back on all his mountain experiences, he knows the best. “Nothing touches Telluride,” he says.
With a resume including mountains like Aspen-Snowmass and Whistler/Blackcomb along with mountains in Austria, Australia, and New Zealand, John is one of the most experienced instructors in the Telluride Ski School. He is a PSIA Rocky Mountain Trainer, currently pursuing his PSIA Examiner certification, which is the highest level of instructor certification in the country.
“The quality of terrain and the climate are unparalleled,” John laughs. “Not to get too technical but high elevation at a low latitude means temperatures cold enough for snow but clear skies more often than not.” In John’s eyes, the perfect combination of weather, terrain, and people make Telluride a perfect mountain. The skiing is incredible and the uncrowded slopes mean no lift lines. “There’s nothing better than that.”
Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Favorite Food: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup at Alpino Vino or the Crispy Duck Red Curry at Siam
Rich Grimes was born to love snow. His grandfather served as a WWI ski trooper in the Austrian army. His mother began skiing at four and took up mountaineering as a teen, going on numerous hut-to-hut adventures throughout Austria before moving to Colorado. Grimes felt a lifelong connection to the mountains and skiing, and started instructing while in high school.
Rich moved to Telluride in the late 1980’s and if it’s up to him, he’ll never leave. “We are in the most beautiful part of the state, and the mountain still inspires sheer joy on a daily basis.” In 2006, he began teaching with the Telluride Ski & Snowboard School, supervising the adult and private group lessons. First-time learners are his favorite. “I love seeing the spark of passion for the sport when people start learning to ski. Regardless of their age, when it clicks and they just ‘get it’, everyone turns into a kid again.”
Rich remains passionate about helping people fall in love with skiing. “Our school is unique because our staff customizes and tailors the lessons to a variety of learning styles,” he says proudly. “Whether you’re a true beginner or an advanced skier, our staff expands your enjoyment of Telluride’s terrain.”
Hometown: Denver, CO
Favorite On-Mountain Run: Dynamo
To sign up for ski school visit our website and take your skiing to the next level with one of the professionals teaching you the ropes.