Hannelore Gruber: Life on the Lifts

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Hannelore Gruber, our hard-working executive assistant, reaches her peak performance beyond just the walls of Spawn – taking on the role of a ski coach for Alyeska’s Ski Club in Girdwood. And when she’s not using her talents to teach, she’s using them to shred the mountainside.


 What initially got you into skiing?

 My father introduced skiing to me, and I can say with 100% certainty that skiing has changed my life. He had grown up racing at Alyeska and ended up teaching me and my older brother how to ski in Colorado. After many cold days practicing the pizza and French fry technique and feeling the thrill of throwing myself down a steep hill going 20+ mph, I fell in love with it. But that was the easy part; the training and long hours on the cold mountain were hard. Thankfully I had friends that helped make the cold winter days not feel as long.


What is your favorite skiing memory?

There are so many, but one was helping my mother learn how to ski. I was around 6 years old and we were riding the bunny hill chairlift. When we got to the top, she went to get off the lift and fell. Being the loving daughter I am, I was too embarrassed to help her up and just skied away. I ended up being her personal ski coach for the rest of the day and after many runs later, we ended the day in the lodge with hot chocolate. To this today that’s one of my fondest ski memories.


What do you like most about skiing?

The thrill! Since I was little, I’ve always gotten an adrenaline rush when I put on skis. Even though it can have its scary moments and make me nervous, it also makes me really happy. Whether it’s jumping off cliffs, skiing fast or skiing in powder, I still get the same rush I did as a kid.


Where is your favorite place to ski?

My favorite place to ski is Crested Butte, Colorado. As a kid we had an annual race there and it always happened to be on the same weekend of a snowstorm so there was a lot of powder skiing. It’s gorgeous all year round, but they have amazing terrain and it’s not very populated which makes the skiing phenomenal.


As an instructor, what key pointers would you give someone who’s wanting to learn?

My coach always taught me “practice makes permanent”, and I live by that today. If you work at something enough it will become engrained in you. If you want to get better at skiing, you can’t go just once and become an expert, you have to practice a lot and train yourself to get better.

Another pointer: Learn and practice with friends, it is way more fun!

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