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For the week of Sept. 15, 1999 through Sept. 22, 1999

A Sun Valley era ends

Kolb leaves ski school


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

Powder skiing versus teaching skiing—it’s a dilemma that’s perplexed Sun Valley ski school director Rainer Kolb for over 40 years, but in the end he’s always picked teaching.

Ski instructors work too early in the day to make it on the mountain before powder hounds do, Kolb explained.

In the coming winter seasons, however, Kolb, 60, will have as many chances to ski the illustrious Sun Valley powder as Mother Nature gives him. Kolb is retiring from his post as Sun Valley Ski and Snowboard School director.

"It was a very hard decision," he said in a telephone interview yesterday afternoon. "After so many years working with a lot of the same ski instructors—that was a hard decision."

Kolb has devoted over half his life to Sun Valley, and teaching has kept his skis running parallel through deep and thin years.

"It’s really great when you watch people start to enjoy the sport," he said. "It’s really easy to pick up. After two or three hours, you can really start enjoying it. That’s what’s great about skiing."

Make no mistake, teaching skiing is hard work, Kolb said. For the past 40 years, his winters have consisted of 12-hour days and seven-day weeks.

"You have to give up a lot for it," he said, "but it’s rewarding. I felt I just couldn’t do it like that any more. It takes a lot of time and energy."

Kolb has been skiing hard his entire life and spent his childhood years skiing down the legendary Hahenkamm downhill run in Kitzbuehel Austria, his home town, on his way to school.

In 1968, Kolb traveled to the United States as part of the Austrian National Demonstration Team for ski instructors and was immediately eyed by Sun Valley owner Bill Janss, as well as by several other western ski area owners, as a prospective ski instructor. Kolb chose Sun Valley, and he’s been here ever since.

Sun Valley now has one of the top ski schools in North America, and Kolb played the leading role in getting it there. He passed the credit on to the instructors.

"It’s lucky to have such great instructors that have been teaching so long for us," he said.

This winter, Kolb and wife Suzy will travel to Mexico to spend their first warm-winter months in years. But they’ll be back in April when Kolb will continue to orchestrate Sun Valley’s legendary summer ice shows. He plans on keeping his post as Sun Valley’s recreation coordinator through this January.

Kolb’s fellow countryman, childhood friend and also a veteran ski instructor, Hans Muehlegger, will take over at the Sun Valley’s Ski and Snowboard School helm. Kolb said Muehlegger is well qualified and will certainly carry on the Sun Valley ski school legacy—perhaps even take it to new levels.

Of his coming plans and the world of skiing, Kolb said: "I’m sure I will ski this mountain in the coming years and make it out on powder mornings. There’s nothing greater than skiing on beautiful powder-day mornings.

"I’ve been teaching skiing for quite a while, but it’s been very, very rewarding. It’s been my life."

 

 

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Copyright 1999 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.