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5 Things That Supposedly Cursed the Cubs

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They say streaks are meant to be broken. But what about curses? On Saturday night, before a raucous Wrigley crowd, the Chicago Cubs clinched their first World Series berth in 71 years. To put things in perspective, the last time this team made it to MLB’s big dance, Harry Truman was in the White House, World War II had just concluded, and Jackie Robinson’s major league debut was still a year and a half away.

Why did the Cubbies take so long to return to the World Series? And, for that matter, why hasn’t the franchise won it since 1908? On the North Side of Chicago, many fans chalk their team’s woes up to supernatural forces. A curse of unparalleled longevity is said to hang over the club. At 108 years old, this hex makes the Boston Red Sox’s 86-year championship drought look like a mere inconvenience. Those who believe in the Cubs curse have offered plenty of theories about how it came to be and why it’s persisted for so long. Here are five things they’ve blamed over the years.

1. THE BILLY GOAT OF WILLIAM SIANIS

Earlier this month, Ghostbusters star and lifelong Cubs fan Bill Murray showed up at Wrigley in a t-shirt that read “I ain’t afraid of no goats.” If you don’t follow baseball (or watch '80s comedies), this might seem like a fairly strange thing to print on an article of clothing. But for decades, goats have inspired apprehension and terror in the hearts of Cubs devotees.

It all dates back to 1934, when William Sianis, an immigrant from Greece, bought a tavern on Chicago’s West Madison Street for $205. One day, a goat jumped off a passing truck and wandered into his bar. Sianis was charmed by the animal and adopted him. Before long, the hoofed mammal became the tavern’s de facto mascot, and Sianis renamed his establishment The Billy Goat Tavern. (After moving to its current place in 1964, the watering hole has turned into a popular Chicago institution, with six locations across town, as well as one in O'Hare Airport, one in Lombard, Illinois—and another all the way off in Washington, D.C.)

Sianis was a canny businessman with a flair for promotional stunts. When the Republican National Convention came to Chicago in 1944, he shrewdly put up a sign reading “No Republicans Allowed.” Right on cue, outraged GOP bar-goers crowded the place, insisting that they be served. Free publicity generated by his stunt translated into huge profits for Sianis, who quickly became one of Chicago’s most recognizable figures.

A year later, the Cubs clinched a World Series berth against the American League’s Detroit Tigers. To celebrate the occasion, Sianis’s bearded pet was cloaked in a banner that boldly declared “We Got Detroit’s Goat.” The outfit was to be the centerpiece of a great new promotional gimmick. Sianis bought up a pair of tickets to Game 4 of the Series at Wrigley Field. He then showed up at the ballpark with his goat in tow. It’s sometimes reported that Sianis and the animal were turned away at the stadium gate by Cubs President P.K. Wrigley, who allegedly complained of the animal’s smell. According to other sources, the entrepreneur and his horned companion were admitted into the ballpark, but were kicked out by ushers in short order. Regardless of why they were kicked out, according to the Tavern's website, an incensed Sianis “threw up his arms and exclaimed, ‘The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more. The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field.” Furthermore, when Chicago ultimately lost the ’45 series to Detroit in seven games, Sianis supposedly telegrammed P.K. Wrigley and asked “Who stinks now?”

A few baseball historians doubt the legitimacy of this story. The standard revisionist argument is that it never even occurred to Sianis to put any sort of hex on the Cubs. For one thing, while two different newspapers ran stories about the Wrigley Field goat incident in 1945, neither account says anything about a curse. So when did the idea originate? If modern curse deniers are to be believed, the Chicago media dreamed up this billy goat jinx at some point in the 1940s. After the '45 World Series (and an OK '46 season), the Cubs started floundering and would go 16 years without a winning season—although they did break even in the 1952 campaign with a mediocre record of 77-77. Remembering the Wrigley Field goat incident, sportswriters began to wonder if Sianis had vindictively jinxed the team. “Sianis played along,” Cubs historian Jack Bales writes.

According to a 1969 Chicago Tribune article, Wrigley wrote a letter apologizing for the snub in 1950, to little effect. (According to the same article, Sianis then put a more obscure curse on the Cubs. After learning that he wouldn’t be able to raise a Greek flag at his bar’s new location near the Wrigley Building, he wrote to Wrigley “The Greek flag will fly from your plaza before another pennant flies at Wrigley field.”) Sianis passed away on October 22, 1970, but the legend of his jinx lived on. Early in 1984, Cubs manager Dallas Green swung by the Billy Goat Tavern and tried to make peace with Sianis’s nephew, Sam. “All is forgiven,” Green said. At the manager’s invitation, Sam showed up at Wrigley Field on opening day with a goat. In a pregame ceremony, the duo ascended the pitcher’s mound and formally revoked the curse.

Members of the Sianis family have since walked goats in or around the stadium on two other occasions. Also, in an attempt to better the Cubs’ fortunes, five competitive eaters gobbled up an entire 40-pound goat in one sitting at a Chicago restaurant in September 2015—a feat that took just 14 minutes.

2. FRED MERKLE’S WRONG TURN

In the early 20th century, baseball knew no bigger rivalry than the blood feud that raged between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Giants. In 1908, these two legendary teams were entwined in a pennant race for the ages. On September 23, the Cubs—who’d won their first World Series title a year earlier—played the Giants at Manhattan’s historic Polo Grounds. At the onset, Chicago stood just slightly behind New York in the National League standings. With the end of the season fast approaching, the stakes were sky-high (at the time, the winner of the pennant was the team with the best record at the end of the season).

Under normal circumstances, Giants veteran Fred Tenney would have been playing first base. But due to a back-related ailment, he was replaced by a 19-year-old rookie named Fred Merkle. Little did this Wisconsin-born teenager know that he’d soon secure his place in history—for all the wrong reasons.

With two outs at the bottom of the ninth inning and outfielder Moose McCormick biding his time on first base, the score was tied 1-1. That’s when Merkle singled, sending McCormick to third. Then along came shortstop Al Bridwell, who hit a single of his own to right center field.

Here’s where things get weird: Bridwell’s hit allowed McCormick to run across home plate and seemingly win the game. Rather than touch second base, Merkle proceeded to make a beeline towards the Giants’ clubhouse in center field. Why would he do such a thing? Well, in those days, fans would often pour out onto the field after a home team victory. Therefore, it was customary for a player in Merkle’s situation to forego advancing to second so that he could steer clear of the oncoming mob.

However, although it was common practice, Major League Baseball’s official rulebook didn’t recognize this little custom. Merkle technically should have touched second—and when he failed to do so, Chicago took notice. Although the field was obscured by a torrent of fans, the Cubs managed to find a ball and get it to their second baseman, Johnny Evers. Following a chat with the Chicago infielder, umpire Hank O’Day called Merkle out, meaning that McCormick’s run was suddenly rendered void. At that point, the game should have gone into extra innings, but those interfering fans and impending darkness rendered such an outcome impossible—so O’Day declared the game to be a 1-1 tie.

At season’s end, the Giants and Cubs had tied for first place. A one-game playoff was arranged, which the Cubs handily won en route to claiming their final World Series championship. Meanwhile, Fred Merkle’s reputation would never recover. The events of September 23 earned him the nickname “Bonehead” and from that day onward, fans taunted him by shouting “Don’t forget to touch second!” (Reportedly, Merkle feared that someone would scrawl “bonehead” onto his tombstone.)

Still, Merkle has had his share of defenders over the years. Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem once denounced O’Day’s fateful call in that Cubs-Giants game as “the rottenest decision in the history of baseball.” Some historians and commentators even believe that this controversial ruling triggered the Chicago Cubs curse. “[Merkle] was the first player on whom the rule was ever enforced and he never lived it down,” longtime sportscaster Keith Olbermann told ESPN. “The goat story is still easier, and more compelling, than the story of the poor rookie victimized by a rule that was never enforced… I’ve never believed the Cubs didn’t curse themselves by playing that rule on poor Fred.” In 2008, a monument to the first baseman was erected in Merkle’s hometown of Watertown, Wisconsin. Its construction was spearheaded by local baseball buff David Stalker, who concurs with Olbermann’s assessment. “Sometimes,” Stalker said, “it looks like the Cubs and Merkle got jinxed at the same time.”

3. PEOPLE, PLACES, AND ANIMALS NAMED “MURPHY”

You might call it a second “Murphy’s Law.” Superstitious Cubbies fans have pointed out that several of the most disappointing collapses in franchise history involved something named Murphy. In 1969, Chicago looked poised to win the National League’s eastern division. For 155 days, the mighty Cubs stood in first place. On August 16, they’d amassed a nine-game lead over the second-place New York Mets, an upstart team which, incidentally, was only in its eighth year of existence. (Although the Cardinals had more wins, their win-loss percentage was lower.) “We started out great, and I really felt that year was going to be our year,” third baseman Ron Santo would say in retrospect.

But then the Mets got hot. Under general manager Johnny Murphy, the New York squad won 39 of their last 50 games. And as Gotham’s lovable losers upped their game, the Cubs started unraveling. Of their final 25 games, Santo’s team ended up dropping 17. The most infamous stretch of this downward skid came in September, when Chicago visited Shea Stadium for a two-date series with the Mets. Surging New York swept the failing Cubbies by a combined score of 10 runs to three. The second game is particularly well-known because, at one point, a black cat trotted out in front of the Cubs dugout. “I saw that cat coming out of the stands, and I knew right away we were in trouble,” Santo said. Sure enough, the so-called Miracle Mets won their division en route to an improbable World Series victory.

Forty-six years later, the Mets once again dashed Chicago’s World Series hopes. This time, New York swept the heavily-favored Cubs in the National League Championship Series. After disposing of their Second City rivals, a Mets player named Daniel Murphy was chosen as the NLCS Most Valuable Player. Given the fact that he’d put up four homers, six runs scored, and six runs batted in during the series, Murphy certainly warranted the distinction.

Not every Cubs playoff collapse was engineered by the Mets, though. In 1984, Dallas Green’s squad secured an NL East crown, but lost the ensuing league championship series. This time, Chicago was eliminated by the San Diego Padres, who snatched the pennant by winning three straight games on their home turf, a venue called Jack Murphy Stadium.

Oh, and by the way, William Sianis’s goat had a name. He called it Murphy.

4. THE (POSSIBLY FIXED) 1918 WORLD SERIES

Chicago’s other team, the White Sox, is still haunted by a scandal that rocked the country over nine decades ago. In 1919, this South Side club famously threw the World Series, deliberately losing the best-of-nine contest after gamblers paid some key players to engineer five losses. Shortly thereafter, rumors of a backroom deal began circulating. These mutterings culminated in a highly publicized trial of several of the team’s players. Although they were acquitted, MLB Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis permanently banned all of the players from the majors.

Known as the Black Sox Scandal, this ordeal is regarded as the darkest chapter in the history of baseball. And yet, one co-conspirator alleged that it was merely the sequel to an earlier transgression. Pitcher Eddie “Knuckles” Cicotte was the first White Sock to confess his role in rigging the 1919 World Series. At Chi-Town’s Cook County Courthouse, he spilled the beans before a grand jury.

During his testimony, he happened to bring up the White Sox’s crosstown rivals. Cicotte mentioned an eastbound train ride that he’d taken with his teammates in the 1919 regular season. Onboard, the conversation inevitably turned to baseball—and money. “The ball players were talking about somebody trying to fix the National League ball players or something like that,” Cicotte stated.

Here, he was referring to the 1918 World Series, which the Cubs had lost to Babe Ruth’s Red Sox. As Cicotte’s confession unfolded, he revealed that “there was some talk about [gamblers] offering $10,000 or something to throw the Cubs in the Boston series.” Hearing this, a player on the train supposedly joked that if the White Sox won the pennant, they should follow the Cubs’ lead and drop the ensuing World Series.

Did the Cubbies purposefully let Boston win it all in 1918? John Thorn, MLB’s official historian, thinks that so far as conspiracy theories go, this one isn’t too far-fetched. “It seems more likely that there would have been a fix than there would not have been,” he told The New York Times. “At that time, the connection between baseball players and gamblers was … strong.” Moreover, as sportswriter Sean Deveny notes, player salaries cratered in the midst of World War I. “They didn’t make much money,” he says. Under the circumstances, the temptation to take bribes would have been strong. In 2009, Deveny published a book about shady background dealings that allegedly tainted the 1918 series. Its title? The Original Curse.

5. WRIGLEY FIELD’S DAY GAME “DISADVANTAGE”

To Cubs faithful, the team’s home turf is nothing less than an ivy-walled cathedral. Built in 1914, it’s regarded as one of Chicago’s most iconic landmarks, right up there with Willis (formerly Sears) Tower and Millennium Park’s Cloud Gate statue (a.k.a. “The Bean”). But playing at Wrigley presents some unique challenges to professional athletes. For starters, city regulations force the Cubs to play more day games than any other team in the majors.

Prior to 1988, the Cubbies never played night games at Wrigley. Then, in that pivotal year, the stadium was fitted with the necessary lights that allowed Chicago’s National League club to take the field after sundown. But at the behest of residents who live in a nearby neighborhood, the Windy City has enforced some severe restrictions on the number of night games that Wrigley can host.

These days, around 70 percent of Major League games take place at night. Twenty-nine MLB franchises now play the majority of their contests under the stars. The Chicago Cubs are the lone outlier. Whereas many teams play around 55 night games at home every year, the Cubbies are limited to 35 (which can be increased to 43 if necessary, if the MLB changes a day game to night for TV rights) night games in any one regular season. For the players, this scheduling quirk can be a real pain. “Through the years, I’ve talked to a lot of friends of mine that have played for the Cubs,” Red Sox great David Ortiz said in 2014. “The one thing that everyone talked about was the schedule in Chicago … it kind of mentally wears you down.”

Ortiz argued that the frequent day games at Wrigley don’t give the Cubs enough time to prepare themselves for road games, which mostly take place at night. “You play day games for about a week and the next thing you know you have to go into a city and play night games,” he says, “then … you have to go to the West Coast and adjust to the time there, then you have to come back home and start playing day games.” This erratic sleep schedule, Ortiz says, is simply “too hard for baseball [players].”

Some former Cub players and managers have made similar statements. As Dallas Green once told the Chicago Tribune, “What we found was that you live in the airport when you play day baseball and everyone else plays night baseball.” He went on to explain that a Cub who plays a night game in St. Louis couldn’t expect to return to his Chicago home “until 2 or 3 in the morning.” Afterwards, said player would have to “get up at 9 a.m.” in order to arrive at Wrigley on time for the next day’s home game. “Your rest is affected,” Green concluded.

Still, not everyone is convinced that Wrigley’s partiality for day games puts the Cubbies at a disadvantage. “I definitely prefer day games here,” former Cubs infielder Gary Gaetti opined. While he allowed that a schedule with more nighttime contests would give the players more rest time, Gaetti didn’t see the status quo as a handicap. “You get used to having it this way,” he said.

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9 Things You Might Not Know About 'Macho Man' Randy Savage
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Even by the standards of pro wrestling and its exaggerated personalities, there’s never been anyone quite like Randy “Macho Man” Savage (1952-2011). A staple of WWE and WCW programming in the 1980s and 1990s, Savage’s bulging neck veins, hoarse voice, and inventive gesticulations made him a star. Check out some facts in honor of what would’ve been Savage’s 65th birthday.

1. HE WAS ORIGINALLY A PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER.

Born Randall Poffo in Columbus, Ohio, Savage’s father, Angelo Poffo, was a notable pro wrestler in the 1950s, sometimes wrestling under a mask with a dollar sign on it as “The Masked Miser.” If that was considered the family business, Savage initially strayed from it, pursuing his love of baseball into a spot on the St. Louis Cardinals farm team as a catcher directly out of high school. Savage played nearly 300 minor league games over four seasons. After failing to make the majors, he decided to follow his father into wrestling.

2. A HAWAIIAN WRESTLER INSPIRED HIS FAMOUS TAGLINE.

In 1967, a then-15-year-old Savage accompanied his father to a wrestling event in Hawaii. There, he saw island grappler King Curtis Iaukea deliver a “promo,” or appeal for viewers to watch him in a forthcoming match. Iaukea spoke in a whisper before bellowing, punctuating his sentences with, “Ohhh, yeah!” That peculiar speech pattern stuck with Savage, who adopted it when he began his career in the ring.

3. HIS MOM GAVE HIM THE “MACHO MAN” NICKNAME.


By John McKeon from Lawrence, KS, United States - Randy "Macho Man" Savage, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

According to Savage, his wrestling nickname didn’t come from the Village People song but from an article his mother, Judy, had read in Reader’s Digest announcing that “macho man” was going to be a hot term in the coming years. She mailed it to Savage along with a list of other possible names. Even though neither one seemed to know what a “macho man” was, Savage liked the sound of it. His stage name, Savage, came from Georgia promoter Ole Anderson, who thought Savage’s grappling style was ferocious.

4. HE SCARED OTHER WRESTLERS.

In the early 1980s, Savage’s father had started promoting his own regional shows in the Lexington, Kentucky area. To draw publicity, Savage and the other wrestlers would sometimes show up to rival shows threatening grapplers and offering up wagers that they could beat them up in a real fight. Once, a Memphis wrestler named Bill Dundee pulled a gun on Savage, who allegedly took it away from him and beat him with it. After his father’s promotion closed up, Savage landed in the WWF (now WWE), giving him a national platform.

5. JAKE THE SNAKE’S PYTHON PUT HIM IN THE HOSPITAL.

One of Savage’s recurring feuds in the WWE was with Jake “The Snake” Roberts, a lanky wrestler who carried a python into the ring with him and allowed the reptile to “attack” his opponents. To intensify their rivalry, Savage agreed to allow Roberts’s snake to bite him on the arm during a television taping after being assured it was devenomized. Five days later, Savage was in the hospital with a 104-degree fever. Savage lived, but the snake didn’t; it died just a few days later. “He was devenomized, but maybe I wasn’t,” Savage told IGN in 2004. 

6. HE PLANNED HIS MATCHES DOWN TO THE SECOND.

While outcomes may be planned backstage, the choreography of pro wrestling is left largely up to the participants, who either talk it over prior to going out or call their moves while in the ring. For a 1987 match with Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III, Savage wanted everything to be absolutely perfect.

“We both had those yellow legal tablets, and we started making notes,” Steamboat told Sports Illustrated in 2015. “Randy would have his set of notes and I would have mine. Then we got everything addressed—number 1, number 2, number 3—and we went up to number 157. Randy would say, ‘OK, here is up to spot 90, now you tell me the rest.’ I would have to go through the rest, then I would quiz him. I’d never planned out a match that way, so it was very stressful to remember everything.” The effort was worth it: Their match is considered by many fans to be among the greatest of all time.

7. HIS MARRIAGE TO MISS ELIZABETH CAUSED PROBLEMS IN THE LOCKER ROOM.

Savage’s “valet” in the WWE was Miss Elizabeth, a fixture of his corner during most of his career in the 1980s. Although they had an onscreen wedding in 1991, they had been married in real life back in 1984. According to several wrestlers, Savage was jealously guarded with his wife, whom he kept in their own locker room. Savage would also confront wrestlers he believed to have been hitting on her. The strain of working and traveling together was said to have contributed to their (real) divorce in 1991.

8. HE CUT A RAP ALBUM DISSING HULK HOGAN.

In 2003, with his best years in the ring behind him, Savage decided to pursue a new career in rap music. Be a Man featured 13 rap songs, including one that eulogized his late friend, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig. But the performance that got the most mainstream attention was the title track, which dissed wrestling star Hulk Hogan. The two had apparently gotten into a rivalry after Hogan made some disparaging comments about Savage on a Tampa, Florida radio show. Whether the sentiment was real or staged, it didn’t do much to help sales: Be a Man moved just 3000 copies.

9. HE MIGHT GET A STATUE IN HIS HOMETOWN.

In 2016, fans circulated a petition to get Savage his own statue in Columbus, Ohio. The initiative was inspired by the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger has a monument in Columbus, and wrestling fans argue that Savage should get equal time. The mayor has yet to issue a response. In the meantime, a 20-inch-tall resin statue of Savage was released by McFarlane Toys in 2014.

See Also: 10 Larger-Than-Life Facts About Andre the Giant

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10 Secrets of Ski Instructors
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If you’ve spent this fall wearing shorts and sandals, you’re not alone: Temperatures have been warmer than average across the United States. But no matter how warm it is where you are, there’s still snow (and skiing) in the forecast somewhere. Before you hit the slopes this winter, check out these on-the-job secrets of ski instructors, from why they love bad weather to what they do during the summer.

1. THEY LOVE BAD WEATHER.

No one can control the weather, but ski instructors cross their fingers for frosty temperatures and heavy snowfall. “Ski instructors love cold, appalling winter weather because it so often results in big snowfalls and the skier's dream—velvety powder snow,” says Chalky White, a ski instructor and the author of The 7 Secrets of Skiing.

But big snowfalls don’t always happen, so ski instructors try to make the best of whatever weather they encounter on a given day. Tony Macri of Snow Trainers, a ski and snowboard training company based in Colorado and New Zealand, tells Mental Floss that the weather’s unpredictability makes ski instructing an adventure. “I never think that weather is disappointing,” he says. “It is what creates more challenge and mystery in every day, versus going back to your cubicle that always has the same florescent light shining down on you.”

2. SOME OF THEM HAVE A BEEF WITH SNOWBOARDERS.

Although some ski instructors also teach (and love) snowboarding, the majority of them try to stay away from snowboarders on the slopes, at least when they’re teaching. “[Snowboarders] tend to push all the fresh snow down the hill with their natural movements. Gets pretty frustrating!” justind99, a ski instructor in Quebec, writes in a Reddit AMA.

But other ski instructors have a more zen attitude when it comes to snowboarders and preach coexistence. “We are all here to have fun,” rbot1, a ski instructor in Salt Lake City, says in a Reddit AMA. “The snowboarder vs skier stigma does nothing but cause problems. Share the mountain!”

3. THEIR CERTIFICATION PROCESS IS INTENSE.

Ski instructor teaching adults

Depending on the country in which they become certified, ski instructors must take classes and pass a series of tests to prove their proficiency. In the U.S., the Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) establishes certification requirements for instructors. Once instructors become certified, they can take additional tests of their technical skills to earn higher levels of certification.

“Level 1 is pretty easy to get. Anyone that can ski a blue square comfortably can pass a level 1 exam,” rbot1 says. But achieving certification for higher levels is more challenging, requiring ski instructors to demonstrate their mastery of various turns, bump runs, and drills. “A single mistake in any of those runs nets you a fail,” says rbot1, who spent two years preparing for his Level 2 test. “These drills might be easy to complete, but you have to do it perfectly.”

4. THEY’VE SEEN SOME GNARLY ACCIDENTS.

Although some people think of skiing as a risky activity, ski instructors insist that, statistically, skiing is no more hazardous than many other sports. That said, most ski instructors have seen at least one nasty injury on the slopes, including broken legs and noses, concussions, and shoulder dislocations. “The worst injury I ever witnessed was a spinal fracture from a kid landing on his back after attempting to do a jump in the snow park area,” justind99 says.

“I have seen some injuries to knees, but the worst was when a friend concussed himself so bad that he was knocked out and was actually sleeping with his eyes open,” Macri says. White tells Mental Floss that a helicopter once picked him up from the slopes because medics suspected that he’d broken his neck. “Good news—I didn’t."

5. THEIR PAY ISN’T GREAT.

The income ski instructors make can vary widely, based on where they teach and their level of expertise. Some instructors earn $10 or $11 an hour for group lessons but charge more for private lessons or longer coaching sessions. While most beginning ski instructors may make just $20,000 per year, the perks of getting paid to ski outweigh the lack of cash for many instructors. “I do understand that at some point I’ll need to either start working really hard to boost my earning potential as an instructor or find another field,” rbot1 says. “For now, it’s a blast.”

6. THEY GET CREATIVE TO TEACH KIDS.

Ski instructor teaching children

A group of young kids bundled up in ski jackets while they try to balance on narrow skis might look adorable, but teaching children to ski comes with plenty of challenges. “Some kids don't have the muscles to do it at [a young] age and some do,” explains inkybus21, a ski and snowboard instructor who has taught in Canada, Australia, and Japan. To make sure his young students don’t lose interest or give up, he makes up games that require various skiing motions and uses visuals to help kids figure out how to properly use their bodies.

7. THEIR EQUIPMENT IS EXPENSIVE.

Ski equipment can be pricey, and ski instructors know the pain of an empty wallet firsthand. From skis and boots to bindings, poles, helmets, goggles, and other accessories, ski instructors can easily spend over $1000 on their equipment. And because their gear gets more use than a casual skier’s, instructors typically go through a pair of skis, boots, and liners each season. But many instructors are eligible for steep discounts on their gear, thanks to their employer or their PSIA-AASI membership. “I haven't bought anything at retail price in years,” rbot1 says. “I can’t even imagine paying full price for a pair of boots or ski/binder set up.”

8. THEY MISS SKIING DURING THE SUMMER.

In a career dependent on the winter season, what do ski instructors do during the summer? Some of them travel to the opposite hemisphere to work at a ski resort—essentially working two winters in a row. But because it can be costly to travel and live on another continent, most ski instructors work odd jobs or use their savings to rock climb and explore the outdoors in the off season. Rbot1, for example, has spent his summers working at a ski resort’s restaurant, boxing fish at an Alaskan processing plant, and living off of his savings. “Most people have a seasonal job. The most popular is raft guiding, the second most popular is working at a state park,” he says.

9. THEY GREATLY APPRECIATE TIPS.

Ski instructors don’t always receive tips from their students, and they wish more people knew that they welcome—and in some cases, expect—gratuity. Rbot1 recounts the story of how he once earned $1500, his biggest tip to date, after instructing a family of four for five days, taking them to different parts of the mountain and even eating lunch with them. “At the end of the week it was all hugs and smiles, but my hand was left dry,” he says. “Anyways, next day I got an email that said ‘you have a tip in the office’ and BOOM $1500 in an envelope.” Rbot1 made good use of the generous tip, paying two months of rent and car payments, as well as buying new ski goggles and gloves.

10. THEY LOVE HELPING PEOPLE OVERCOME THEIR FEARS.

Although skiing is good exercise and an enjoyable winter activity, learning to ski can also help people feel more confident. “It’s not always about skiing and teaching people to be the best skiers,” Macri says. “A lot of [the job] is just about showing people a good time and helping them achieve their goals or overcoming their fears.”

Macri particularly appreciates the amazing views from the top of a mountain, as well as the feeling he gets when he takes students down a great run and everyone high-fives one another in joy. “I sit back and think this is my office and I am having just as amazing [a] time as everyone else. The only difference is that I am getting paid for it,” he says.

All photos courtesy of iStock.

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