Jerry Berg rippin' it up in the bumps at Breckenridge.
I am still in shock about this, and it will be a while before I can really get my head around it. Bergie was a legend among legends, a gifted skier, a phenomenal coach and instructor, a mentor and trainer to me and many, many other instructors and skiers fortunate enough to have spent time with him. As a Trainer and Examiner, PSIA-RM Alpine Committee Chair, and member of the PSIA National Alpine Team, certified by both PSIA and France's ESF (Ecole du Ski Francais), and EpicSki Academy coach, Bergie's influence in the world of ski instruction was extraordinary and far reaching. A brilliant skier, demonstrator, and model of technique, athleticism, finesse, will, touch, power, purpose, passion, and creativity, Bergie was the consummate inspiration, to me the embodiment of great, great skiing. He loved skiing. He loved teaching. He could be a relentless task master, with a wit sharp as his slalom skis, and little sympathy for anyone who didn't at least try to do his or her best, but he was the best friend of anyone who truly wanted to improve and excel. He was one of the best motivators I have ever known, inspiring so many to achieve far beyond their expectations.
Bergie showing how it's done, in the crud of Juarez, Taos, New Mexico
The photograph above reminds me of one of my favorite Jerry Berg stories. It was the evening before the Ski day of the PSIA-RM Full Certification (Level 3) exam at Taos, New Mexico. All of the candidates were assembled together for an overview of the coming day. We announced that the "Variable Terrain and Conditions" run would take place on "Juarez," an awesome chute accessed from a hike high above the tree line along Highline Ridge. A candidate in the back raised his hand and complained that he didn't think it was appropriate to ask people to hike, that he wasn't a hiker and we shouldn't have to work that hard, or something to that effect. Bergie looked directly at him and said, "no problem. You don't have to hike. We have something just for you. Level 2." The candidate was silenced. But he hiked the next day, and actually had a great run in Juarez. After it was over, I overheard him thanking Bergie for pushing him to accomplish something beyond himself. That was the Bergie I knew. No one did it better.
I have learned much from you, Jerry, But I had so much more to learn. I can't believe that there will be no more powder runs in Vail's Back Bowls, no more chairlift rides to share a story or a joke, no more.... Wherever you are now, I hope the powder is deep, the air is clear, and all of your followers suck at the very highest level they can!
Yep, Bergie's the one on top in this classic Hart Skis poster.
I'll miss you, man.