NSP: When did you become a patroller, and what led you to start patrolling?
Sue: I joined in 1997 when a friend called and said, “Hey, if you join ski patrol, you can ski free for the rest of your life!” I hadn’t skied for a few years, but that hooked me!
NSP: What did you find most challenging about patroller training prior to becoming a patroller?
Sue: Learning tail rope. OMG, all of my trainers are laughing in agreement right now! It took me forever to “get” that concept of the fall line.
NSP: How many cups of coffee do you drink during a patrol shift?
Sue: A medium skinny latte for the trip to the hill, and throughout my shift. (Caribou Coffee is the best!)
NSP: Powder or groomers?
Sue: Depends! We don’t get much powder in the Midwest, so groomers are my specialty. My absolute favorite is about 4-6 inches of fresh over groomed. I’m only 5-feet-2, so that seems pretty deep to me, and there are less surprises that way.
NSP: What have you learned the most about yourself from patrolling?
Sue: Oh gosh, so much over the past 20 years. How to step up and be a leader, and that I’m stronger (physically and mentally) than I ever thought I could be.
NSP: What do you find most rewarding about patrolling and being a member of the National Ski Patrol?
Sue: Of course it’s a huge reward every time we do well with an injured guest, whether it is skier’s thumb or a backboarding incident. For myself, I have gained so many friends that have become family to me. I ski, bike, and travel with them and trust my life to them. The most touching memory is when my father passed away two years ago. Four of my ski patrol family drove from Rochester, Minnesota, to St. Louis (8 hours) in the middle of the night to stand by me for the funeral, then turned around and made the trip back home. The friendships that you develop working this closely with other people are hard to come by.
NSP: What made you want to get involved with the OEC Program and becoming an OEC supervisor?
Sue: As an RN, it seemed like a natural fit. I was barely done with my OEC class and was “volun-told” to become an instructor by my patrol rep at the time. With the help of a lot of fantastic mentors and support, I worked my way up the chain. I taught at the OEC classes and refreshers, eventually became an IOR for a few years. While working on Senior status I was asked to be an IT, then region OEC administrator and finally Central Division supervisor. Part of it is that I could never say no, and I loved hanging out with my people. Each step brought challenges and new experiences. I have learned from so many of those that blazed the trail for me: Deb, Kathy, Karen, Mary, Jeff, JT, and more.
NSP: What is your favorite OEC chapter?
Sue: I’d have to say, Chapter 23: Thoracic injuries, because it’s so much fun to say “Sucking Chest Wound.”