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One of the Great Ones...Jerry "Bergie" Berg

post #1 of 99
Thread Starter 
It is with a heavy, heavy heart that I bear this news. Although details are sketchy at this point, the legendary Jerry Berg, mentor, friend, and one of the good guys, passed away this afternoon, apparently of natural causes, while riding his mountain bike on Battle Mountain in Colorado.

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.

post #2 of 99

I didn't know Jerry very well but I want to share a story about him.

While skiing with Jerry in Crested Butte, our top local pros took us to the bat pole. In some ways I suspect the idea was to test his mettle. While I stood there waiting to slide down that silly tree, Jerry stepped to the edge of the cliff, leaped in and skied down the slope with his usual power and flair. It was then that I gained an appreciation for just how special a skier he was and how lucky I was to have had the chance to spend a few days with him pushing me to think beyond my horizons. We can never replace him but we can honor him by carrying on his work. Just like you do Bob.

My deepest sympathies go out to his loved ones.

Don Duran


post #3 of 99

RIP, Sounds like he was an awesome guy, love your L3 story about him Bob. What a great mentor to have had. That's a cool poster of the Hart skis. Thanks for sharing your story.

post #4 of 99

I taught skiing with him at Vail... he was the best among the best.  Tuesday races were always won by Bergie, or he was second.  Yeah, he'll be missed.

post #5 of 99

I am shocked and deeply saddened to hear this news. Rest in peace, Bergie!

post #6 of 99

We all lost a mentor's mentor. I know you feel it most of all Bob. 

post #7 of 99

What a touching tribute Bob. 


My heart goes out to you and all those close to him.  

Bergie showing how it's done, in the crud of Juarez, Taos, New Mexico


Showing how its done.............With a lot of joy!

post #8 of 99

Skiing lost a great rolemodel and we lost a friend. So sad  - he was one in a million!

post #9 of 99

Nice and true comments, Bob.  It's tough to see Bergie go.  I feel it's really poignant considering how hard a time he's had with his leg injury and that I had this feeling he was really on the road to recovery.


I loved working with him.  And we tangled a lot about a lot of things.  But one never felt he was petty or thoughtless, or without immense passion.  And that made all the needling fun instead of harsh.  We "tortured" each other constantly, and you never sensed any rancor  or unkindness.  Only the challenge to do it better.


I really do believe it was he that came up with the big "suck" line.  Does anyone remember the story?  I think it was about him telling some candidate that his skiing sucked, but that it sucked at a very high level.

post #10 of 99

Jerry helped me get involved with PSIA, back when I was living in Vail in 2003, and I was fortunate enough to work at Golden Peak with him.
A truly inspirational man: always setting high standards, but always doing it with a kindly twinkle in his eye.
A terribly sad loss to skiing.

post #11 of 99

This news breaks my heart. What a huge loss to so many people in so many ways...

Godspeed, Bergie.

Love and hugs to his children who I adore.

post #12 of 99

Like so many others, I have Bergie stories I cherish....I will miss the occasional lift ride!

post #13 of 99

:) RIP

post #14 of 99

I only had the opportunity to meet Bergie twice.  My role in that first meeting was to play the latest iteration of a long-standing practical joke on Bergie.  He took it really well, something I can't say about how many people would react if a total stranger walks up and introduces himself with a practical joke.  I liked him immediately.  icon14.gif


The only other time I met Bergie we were actually on skis.  Bergie was talking about skiing bumps and jumping troughs that you didn't like...  And then proceeded to ski down jumping virtually every trough there was.  His skis stayed down just long enough to jump the next trough.  I was in awe.


Bergie, you sure lived right.  wink.gif

post #15 of 99

I'm shocked to learn this.  I worked / trained with Jerry for the past 13 years at VAIL.  A great mentor has been lost but not forgotten.   RIP my friend.  frown.gif

post #16 of 99
Thread Starter 
Jerry Berg stories will be told and retold for a very, very long time, and we'll all be the better for it. Keep 'em coming!

Best regards,
post #17 of 99

I had the good fortune of sharing an office with Jerry at Aspen Highlands many years ago. He only tolerated this because I was never there.


Whenever I was giving a presentation and knew Jerry was there, I would make a joke at his expense. Something like "I've been in this business so long I remember when skis were short and wide the first time and Jerry Berg was relevant".


Once when I didn't he came up to me afterward and asked why I hadn't mentioned him. I told him I didn't know he was there. He said "You mention me whether I'm there or not, that's your job!"


In addition to being a great skier, sharp wit, mentor and friend to so many of us, he was also an exceptional bowler.


Normally, to that I would have added "Just ask him, he'll tell you."


Condolences to his family, he'll be greatly missed by all of us who had the pleasure of knowing him.


Jim Lindsay

post #18 of 99

Thomas D'Errico

My greatest memory with Bergie was one of our New Hire training courses at Vail.  Attitude far different from anyone else we had trained with, not one person had any idea what they had signed up for.

No matter what drill, activity, or aspect of skiing we were pushing ourselves in, if it was not to Bergie's satisfaction, 

"Hike, and do it again!"


A long day in boots, but one that will never be forgotten.

Bergie, Each and everyone of us improved that day thanks to you and your unique teaching styles. Thank you and may you Rest In Peace.

post #19 of 99

RIP Bergie. If it weren't for you, I would not be skiing. So glad to have met you when you were taking time off from the pro world to work with never evers like me. Most importantly, you are in the inspiration for Ski Like That-a way to connect people with ski and snowboard teachers.Julie & Bergie#1.jpg

post #20 of 99

Skiing has truly lost a legend.  Rest in Peace Jerry.  We'll ski with you again on the other side.

post #21 of 99

Very sorry to hear. A person who undoubtedly embodied the true spirit of the outdoors. Sorry I did not have the good fortune of meeting him.

post #22 of 99

I worked with Bergie starting in 1978 when I was first assigned to the Gold Peak locker room.

Bergie was simply "larger than life". He used to bring in his shiny bowling ball and bowl down the isle towards the nordic office. Bergie harassed everyone in the locker room, every morning. It was hilarious. And it was truly fun to go to work. Steve Webber would stand on a bench and verbally spar with Jerry every day. I think these 2 guys created "Fluff Row".

Bergie was the best skiing ski instructor I ever laid eyes on. I was an examiner in PSIA, CSIA, Aussie and on exchanges in Japan and Aussie. No one ever came close. It was like he was born on skis. I used to call him "Dancer".

Bergie was like a brother to me back then. We went to Thredbo with Larry Lash and we ran the Vail Ski School Race Committee for many years. It was really incredible, looking back how much we were able to pull off in those days. We created and sold ski school ball caps, gloves, t-shirts, seems like millions of these things. Bergie worked so hard to sell the brand. And the ski school banquets.....we used to have 800 guests in black tie with a 16 piece orchestra playing one night every spring in the Vail Valley. Then we gave out the awards for the best season long race competitors. These were the days when John Garnsey ran the race department. We used to laugh so hard announcing the Tuesday night ski school race. We would be there till dark finishing up the 400 contestants. Everything Bergie did , he did so with amazing passion. I was truly happy for him when he finally made the PSIA Demo Team. He was the best skier that tried out for a decade and a half. To say Bergie was a fixture on the Vail landscape is an understatement. Even during his time in Aspen, it was like he never left. Bergie, you will be missed. RIP Amigo.

post #23 of 99

When I joined the Vail Ski School 7 years ago Bergie was my supervisor, family leader, mentor and good friend.  As we all know, Jerry did not suffer fools, which makes me wonder why we got along so well.  He proved that, while difficult, it is possible to be a hard-ass and a good guy at the same time.  I can't believe he's gone.  Ski School will never be the same.  RIP Bergie.  You were the best!

post #24 of 99

And he was doing what I want to do when he went to Level 5, riding his mountain bike after the snows had gone! Freedom and whisky, DrDruid

post #25 of 99

Bergy was, quite literally, the one that kept me sane and smiling during our time together as Supes at Golden Peak as we secretly plotted to take over Vail Resorts in a bloodless coup.  He was a relentless teacher and, as other have said, an extraordinary motivator.  He worked me relentlessly for an exam in Steamboat.  When it came time to go he insisted that I only take my puny "disco sticks" and leave my all mountains at home.  "You'll flunk on those big boards.", he said.  It puked all the way to Steamboat turning a 90 minute drive into a three hour one and the snow continued throughout the night.  Next morning there were three feet of new snow, and of course all I had were my disco sticks.  I was pissed and I called his voicemail at work and left a message.  "Thanks a lot, Bergie.  Thanks to you I have to deal with an exam and three feet of new snow with nothing but a pair a pair of f*****g popsicle sticks!!"  Of course I passed the exam.  Quintessential Jerry Berg.   

post #26 of 99

Someone very special.  A beautiful tribute & wonderful stories from friends.  Examples skiing's close and supportive community.

post #27 of 99

Thanks Bob, wonderful tribute to Jerry-he's a legend to all of us. One of my fondest memories of Jerry was watching him effortlessly ski volkswagon sized bumps down Percys on Aspen Mountain many years ago and had our whole clinic group doing the same. We were airborne jumping from one bump to the next. Warmest wishes to all his family -next of kin and his extended ski family

post #28 of 99

Back to the Past, it began here - Bergie is in the center.

post #29 of 99

I cannot believe this!  Bergie was so special!  The first time I met him was at the Academy at Grand Targhee, seems like forever ago.  I think this was his first Academy out west and he was not sure what to make of all this snow.  This was an epic winter with snow deep enough to jump off the third floor balcony and not knowing what was underneath, but that did not keep any of us from doing it.  I think Bergie must have jumped a dozen times.  On one of the last days he and I did some exploring and found a little chute that had not been skiied yet.  We stood there for a long time wondering if we should go.  I jumped in first made one turn and it slid.  I look back up at him, his eyes were as big as saucers.  I said well its not going to slide now and took off.  He followed me down at at the bottom we high fived at having survived something so stupid.  That was probably the last time I can say I out skied him.  From then on he was always better and pushed me to be as good as I could be.  We spent a lot of years at Vail, always looking for those little spots to push each other.  Remember JJ's.  I look forward to hearing more from everyone.


Bergie - you were such a special friend, I will miss you terribly.


John Boles

post #30 of 99

Berg 1974. The Bad Boys are going to miss you Bergie.

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