I know of no one who has had a greater impact on teaching and coaching skiing than Tom Reynolds. Yet, I suspect the number of Maine skiers who realize how far his influence has traveled is relatively small.

That he coached the ski team at the University of Maine at Farmington, developed a best in its field training program for the ski industry at UMF and taught skiing at Sugarloaf for decades is well-known. But recreational skiers are not often exposed to those who train their instructors and coaches. For Coach Reynolds, teaching skiing to everyone from newbies to elite racers has been part of all his adult life. I doubt if many of the skiers who wound up in his classes at Sugarloaf or in the past few years at New Hampshire’s Mount Sunapee knew their instructor was the head trainer for all the other instructors at the mountain.

If you talk to almost any veteran ski instructor or coach here in New England, they know of or know Reynolds directly. Many have attended his clinics, and I have had more than one tell me they keep his first book, “A Guide to Alpine Coaching,” published in 1974, on their desk. In 2003, he improved on that one with “Effective Ski Coaching” which he used as an outline for countless clinics for instructors and coaches.

Last weekend, I got to read his latest, “The Skiing Professionals: Coaching and Teaching.” I can’t tell how many ski books I have read over the years on every part of our sport. I can say that this new book is the most concise, detailed look at the profession of teaching skiing as an instructor or coach that I have read.

The best way to explain the book is to repeat Tom’s introduction verbatim: “This book will focus on coaching and teaching, as well as the interrelationship of the two skiing specialties. I believe that it is extremely important to have an exchange of knowledge and an understanding of teaching basics to both the young racer, as well as the World Cup athlete. The theme of this book will build around the principles of coaching and teaching.”

Reynolds goes on to explain his philosophy and how it has been influenced by the various coaches he has worked with throughout his career. As an associate coach, he worked with top coaches at the national team level and is known and recognized by coaches of the U.S. team and other national teams. He points out that while regardless of the sport, coaches and instructors have a similar knowledge base, their approaches and deliveries vary. He concludes, “The most important similarity is that each one has the good of the athlete and the public at heart.”

Anyone who has ever watched him in action knows that last sentence describes Tom “Coach” Reynolds perfectly.

I have had the good fortune to accompany Tom and his ski team from UMF to meets, to ski with him as he taught classes at Sugarloaf, listen to his presentations at clinics and, best of all, to ski with him, just the two of us. Some of these days I actually received instruction, but mostly we just skied and enjoyed the day. But it’s important to understand that Tom was always a “Coach.” A few years ago at Sunapee, while we skied together, three different instructors approached him to ask when he would be available to coach them as they prepared for certification exams. One was heading out the next day, so Tom invited him to join us and gave him some tips and drills to work on.

In this new book, Reynolds outlines every part of coaching skiers. He talks of maximizing people’s ability, building a program, training talent and expands on his coaching philosophy. In his chapter on competitors, he starts with, “Ordinary people don’t become winners”, and goes on to detail how coaches can make them extraordinary and how the coach can improve himself. Coach presents a format for success in Chapter 6, noting that despite the differences between a 30-year-old man, Mario Matt, and a teenaged Mikaela Shiffrin in winning slalom races, they are both examples of the same technical skiing.

After breaking this down into a step-by-step process there is a chapter on “Elements of a Ski Turn.” If you’re wondering how to make that pure carved turn, this chapter is for every skier, not just coaches. It would help if you go out with a top instructor, but reading this will give you a mental picture of how to make the skis carve through the turn.

Next comes “Training in the transition,” in which we learn about the four alpine racing disciplines, Slalom, GS, Super G and Downhill. I liked the quote, “Coaches and racers are always partners.”

Another top Maine ski coach takes over the next 10 pages. In “The path to success,” Tim LaVallee breaks down how to run gates and set up a training program to achieve results on the race course. This is another good chapter for the recreational racer as well as the professional.

Section II summarizes the steps an instructor or coach needs to take in order to move up the mountain of teaching and coaching excellence. And in the final Section III, we have the “Words of the Coach.” This is a collection of sayings and thoughts gathered over a career of teaching and coaching.

In summary, “The Skiing Professionals” carries out Reynolds statement, “You cannot coach without teaching. You cannot teach without coaching.” Often we forget, focusing on his achievements in coaching, that Tom was a full professor at Farmington. He has written a text book that would fit into the UMF Alpine program. Let’s hope that it will continue to be printed and circulated well among the next and present generation of ski instructors and coaches at UMF and beyond.

See you on the slopes.

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