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One of the Great Ones...Jerry "Bergie" Berg - Page 3

post #61 of 99

Hey all, we really must put a tribute video together to play on Sunday at the memorial. But we have to move fast. Could everyone please drop off or email their best photos of Bergie to abe@eefhd.com and cc to hayden@eefhd.com as soon as you can. If you have any video of him, please drop this off at the eefHD studios at Avon Center. We need everything and anything you can find. Our number is 970 479 6333. Thanks. Lets try to make something really special to help celebrate his life.

post #62 of 99

I’ve been struggling with the loss of Jerry Berg.  And, while riding my bicycle today, I finally figured out why.


Bergie was a pain in the ass. 


Like…whenever I developed this self-righteous clarity that I really had it down, he’d come along and show me that there was much more to learn, that I was missing something, that I could do it better.  Whenever us instructors got really good at stealth criticism behind our friends’ backs, he’d bring up something ridiculous like, “No more back-stabbing.  Front-stabbing only.”  And then he would have the gall to point out that each individual has to take personal responsibility, without pointing fingers at every one else.   


How many people did he make weep because he showed them that there was a better way to ski without coddling them in the process.  I think his phrase was, “We need to say the hard words.” (the truth!)  Hey! We exist to be coddled.  On the other hand, I would sometimes watch people trying their hardest, and really coming close.  And I’d think, “Damn, he’s just going to rip into them with the hard words.” Instead, he would enthusiastically encourage them to the next step and coax their best performance out of them.  Puhlease!! 


He never failed to challenge our expectations. I remember a clinic on wedge christys, expecting that we’d have this high tech movement analysis of this slow and boring maneuver.  Instead, we found ourselves doing it in ALL terrain—bumps, steeps, everything—until we really understood it.  I mean, who gave him permission to be so unique and creative?!!


Every time it looked like he was really down and things weren’t going so well, he would suddenly surge ahead with a new plan, a new idea, a new approach, or a new format.  Nothing was too sacred.  He was totally fearless about getting criticized for pushing the risk envelope.  What a pain!! 


He forgave us when we failed him, and never let up on us when we were failing ourselves.  Whenever we would hide in a mediocre place, he would stir and shake and challenge until we moved forward again. Comfort zone?  What comfort zone!


Bergie has touched everyone in modern ski teaching—either directly or indirectly, consciously or not--with passion, vision, cleverness, skill, kindness, and humor. 


And personally….well, I felt that he and I were evil twin brothers for the nearly 40 years that we knew each other.  We tortured each other—all the while laughing and needling.  He kept pushing me to do something better.  I kept teasing him about his intransigent intolerance of mediocrity.  Yet he would congratulate me when I stepped out to take a risk, and I could easily acknowledge his drive toward excellence. Damn! I was looking forward to our continuing to roast each other until we became ancient.  (Don’t say it, Bergie!  I know what you’re thinking.)   


I sure miss him already.  But the sense of his presence will remain for a long time. He has left a powerful and eloquent footprint on the ground of our collective spirit.


Love to Kiffor, Jessie, and Dina (who seems to have made him just radiate with happiness).  How lucky you all have been to be close to such person as Jerry.  And thank you for sharing him with all the rest of us.


Bergie, Thanks!  I will continue to suck at the very highest level I can attain!

post #63 of 99
Thread Starter 
Obituary in the Vail Daily today (http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20120606/OBITS/120609886/1078&ParentProfile=1062):

Donald Jerome “Jerry” Berg, 1950-2012


Donald Jerome “Jerry” Berg, known to many as “Bergie” passed away on June 4, 2012.

Jerry was born on Oct. 23, 1950, and was raised in Auburn, Indiana. He later met Krista at a small Midwestern ski hill and they married and had two children.

A natural athlete, Jerry excelled in all chosen sports over his lifetime. He found his true passion in downhill skiing and moved with his family from Wisconsin to Colorado in the early 1970s to become a Vail ski instructor. He soon served as a Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) Trainer, Examiner and PSIA-RM Alpine Committee Chair. In 1988-92 he achieved the highest honor by being named a member of the PSIA National Alpine Demo Team. He was also Ecole du Ski Francais certified, France's equivalent of the highest U.S. certification.

In 1989, Jerry moved to Aspen and would live there for about 10 years working as the director of training of the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen. His expertise in skiing was an avenue for him to meet so many of his friends and colleagues and it took him around the world to China, Japan, Australia, France, Austria and Italy. He also lived in Crested Butte for a short time before returning to the Vail Valley and married his wife, Dina, and was currently residing in Minturn with his family.

Passionate was often a word used to describe Jerry. He was the consummate “tinkerer,” restoring cruiser bikes, sports cars and even houses. He was a visionary, gifted with the talent and skill to create whatever he imagined with his own hands. He always created a “home” with thoughtful touches for every family member, a place for everyone to feel comfortable, including his own zone — the garage. Jerry loved the outdoors, from the northern lakes of Wisconsin to the plains of Indiana to the Rocky Mountains. He celebrated them through hunting, fishing, camping, cycling and of course, skiing.

He was so many things to so many people — a husband, a father, a mentor, a coach and a friend. He was very invested in everyone he knew. He was an honest friend — always blunt, yet charming. He had an ability to irritate yet motivate, inspiring one to do better than they knew they could. He was a friend to all ages. A kid at heart, he was able to relate to children on their level, having fun while setting boundaries and creating structure.

He is survived by his adoring wife Dina, brother Michael, and his loving children Jessica and Kiffor. He also leaves behind stepchildren Natalie and Ian, and grandchildren Malcolm and Augusta. Jerry and Dina were soul mates, their story started 25 years ago and their marriage in 2009 brought together the family members that became the family that Jerry always wanted.

He and his eldest daughter, Jessica, shared a great relationship — he was a friend, a coach and a father. He taught her how to not only enjoy the view around her but to step into it and experience it. To his son Kiffor, Jerry was his hero. Kiffor always emulated him. They were constant competitors chasing each other up passes on their bikes or down the hill on their skis, each one taking a turn at being the champ. They were father and son and they were great friends.

With his little girl, he knew Natalie's potential and always helped her become more aware of it. He always used to tell her that she “had the world by its tails” and he believed it. He would tease her endlessly, always with love. For Ian, his little buddy, he couldn't shake his shadow. Jerry took Ian under his wing and always appreciated moments to teach Ian something new. These teaching moments were where their relationship fostered.

He was a loving husband, father and grandfather and will be greatly missed.

A service is being planned in Vail for Sunday at 3 p.m. Please share your memories of Jerry in the Facebook group, “Friends of Jerry Berg — We Love you Bergie.”

The Bergie's Best Scholarship Fund

The Bergie's Best Scholarship Fund is being set up in Jerry's name through the PSIA-RM Education Foundation. In lieu of flowers or other gifts, we invite you to contribute to this scholarship fund. Contact the PSIA-RM office at 970-879-8335 or donations may be sent to:
PSIA-RM Education Foundation
PO Box 775143
Steamboat, CO 80487
post #64 of 99

Jerry was my trainer when I arrived from Australia excited and feeling very tentative, his cheeky smile soon made all nineteen rookies  feel at home , later became my boss, I am forever in his debt fpr his mentoring tough as it was at times  but it certtainly brought the best out in me ,.his passion for both his sport and chosen profession was inspirational,The ready smile and quick wit could always bring a smile to ones face no matter how tough the day . Thanks Jerry you will be missed

post #65 of 99
Originally Posted by FairToMiddlin View Post

I love seeing all of the first time (or nearly so) posters who have come to this thread to pay respects.  What a gift that a person's Life Well Lived and a website can bring those who live Life well together...  Thanks for stopping by, I regret the circumstances.


It has been a tragic joy to watch folks respond to Bob's beginning to this remembrance; I have held back from posting because I never knew Jerry 'round here.  a few months ago, I got to see Jerry ski on Bob's Crudology vimeo, and of all of the skilled contributors, Jerry's brief segment embodied what I hope to pursue well ('master' is too presumptuous).  


His exit was too early (I never got to meet him and bust his balls), but even now he is that giving fellow you all remember.

You said this quite well.  Isn't it interesting to see some of our mentors (Bob, Weems, and the like) posting how they were mentored by this incredible person? 

post #66 of 99

I never met Jerry Berg, but I knew the name from many pictures of him used to demonstrate superior form by Ron LeMaster in his books and presentations. I also recalled that Lito Tejada-Flores used him in a segment in one of his instructional videos to show masterful bump skiing.


I apologize in advance for the poor quality of this clip - I had no way to make it but to shoot a VHS tape playing to my TV with an iPhone - but I hope you who are tuning in here will appreciate seeing your friend in action.



Original video available here and here.
post #67 of 99

Thanks for posting jc-ski!  Weems once said that there are five levels of skiers:  beginner, intermediate, advanced, expert and "good" (as in "wow, he's good").


After watching that video, I think there needs to be sixth level added:  "Bergiean".

post #68 of 99

To Jerry’s family and close friends:  Please accept my sincere condolences.


I haven’t seen Jerry for several years but a flood of memories came back with the sad news and the stories shared here by his friends and co-workers. Thank you all for your stories.


My first meeting with Jerry was in 1984. I was hired mid-season at Lionshead and had never skied Vail Mountain.  Arriving from Arizona the day before, I came to work with my 207cm GS skis on my shoulder, full-cert pin on my collar, and all excited to start teaching in the big time.  On that first day, after the morning line-up and split, Supervisor Jerry Berg took me out for a run I’ll never forget.


At the top of the Gondi Jerry quickly put on his skis and without a word spoken he took off like a carrier jet and I scrambled to follow.  We’re making minimal arcs to move as fast as possible on the flat terrain.  I got on his tail.


I’m following so closely and at a high enough speed that I’m target fixated on him and I’m not paying attention to the terrain ahead.  It’s right about NOW that I saw Jerry catch some air and then disappear below the horizon line.  While I’m in the air I can still remember thinking, “S&!+, this is a test and you better pass it!!!”


I stayed close to Jerry all the way down black Ledges but I wasn’t watching him anymore.  I’m sure he was poetry in motion but I was in survival mode and just trying to stay out of the Emergency Room.  The 1983/84 season was a big snow year and by January the steeper terrain on the lower part of the mountain had developed those gouged down to the dirt and pine branches Volkswagen sized moguls that are that you hear the crotchety old-timers talk about.  After about six high speed turns, actually more like launches and near crashes than turns, I saw that Jerry was making a hockey stop at the bottom of the face to see me flail down a 25+ turn old-school zipper line.  He only saw my pretty hockey stop next to him.  Luckily I careened down fast enough so he didn’t see that I SUCKED.


That was my “OH S&!+!!!” moment with Jerry Berg.  After that initial encounter we were pals.


I trust the powder is light and deep for you up there. R.I.P. Jerry.

post #69 of 99
Thread Starter 
The sun rose Tuesday on a world that, for the first time in my lifetime, did not have Jerry Berg in it. Even from a distance, I knew that profound change had taken place, but I could not grasp. For the next few days, I've wanted to call Bergie up and ask him what the heck happened. Been meaning to call him anyway, you know. Gotta' give him a call soon....

I still can't get it. Something is out of kilter, not right. I can't quite focus yet. Bergie was someone who you just assumed was always there, always at the other end of a phone line if you needed him, a rock, a mountain. And the mountain has, inexplicably and without warning, vanished.

Like you, Weems (and like Bergie too, I think), I sometimes find clarity on a bike ride. I went for a ride Tuesday morning. Nope. It still didn't make sense. Gotta' call Bergie and get things straightened out.... "Things are screwed up," he'd often say (not always with those words), "I'm gonna fix 'em."

Focus is finally returning now at times--thanks to Bergie himself. This thread, along with the incredible tribute page on Facebook, help a lot. The outpouring of sentiment, memories, and stories of lessons learned from Bergie by the thousands of people whom his life touched is healing--and motivating. As these stories show, Bergie was, among other things, a motivator. He was the best I've ever known at it, and in that respect, it's obvious he's still alive and doin' it! I'll bet that everyone who knew him is trying to do whatever they're doing just a little bit better today, reaching for a level just a little bit higher now, because of Bergie. He was the kindler of fires. It was his gift to us, and it's up to us now to keep the flame.

With the sunrise today, I can feel Bergie in it. Shine on!

Full throttle at Arapahoe Basin, circa 2006


With all this, I cannot help but think of Bergie's family. I know that, as I have selfishly considered my own loss, Bergie was your husband, father, grandfather, brother, stepfather, and more. I cannot imagine....

To Bergie's son, Kiffor, I hope you don't mind my sharing part of our recent communication. It has helped bring me clarity and strength (and I thank you for that):

I am sure you know how proud he was of you. I remember a group of high-level instructors standing on top of Gowdy's (or AMF--I can never remember which is which) at Snowmass pondering just how we were going to enter it without damage to ourselves or our gear, when he recounted a story of you launching into it with a forward (or was it back?) flip....

And your sister too. He beamed with pride whenever he spoke of either of you, or forwarded pictures of you, or mentioned your accomplishments.

Your dad was one of the best ones, and he was an enormous influence and inspiration for me. I will miss him desperately. He always pushed the envelope of what was possible, never took the easy road when there was a better way or a tougher road that led to a better place. He never just accepted what is when he could imagine what could be, and he was never afraid to go against the grain. It didn't always make him popular, especially among those who are comfortable with mediocrity, but even those he pissed off the most surely respected him. I do not believe that he EVER spoke a harsh or sarcastic or critical word to anyone, ever, without the intention of pushing them to a new level, bringing out their best. He didn't care how good or bad anyone was, how accomplished or weak--pretty much everyone "sucked" compared with him anyway. He only cared that you shrugged off your self-imposed limitations and got better. Whatever your real level of suckage, he wanted us all to do it at the highest level we were individually capable of.

And he lived by the same rules. He never did anything half-way, at least that I ever noticed. At everything, he went all-in, full-throttle, combining insane talent, athleticism, and intelligence with inhuman passion. He never asked more of anyone else than he asked of himself. It made him who he was. And it may well have caused his too-early end. But I don't think he'd ever have wanted any less, and I wouldn't have ever asked him to slow it down.

Man, I'll miss him. I already do.

In any case, when I think of Bergie, my mind floods with words, thoughts, images, and memories. They flash past so quickly and fondly sometimes that it's hard to grab the ones that stand out. Here are just a few--quotes of him, words that come to mind that describe him, or remind me of him.

"Y'er doin' it!"

"That thing you're doing--stop doing it."

Insanely talented.



Sensitive (but never coddling).

Tough love.

Motivator extraordinaire.

The Mt. Sopris Ski School.




"It's fucked up. I'm gonna' fix it."

And so many more....


Treasure those genes, Kiffor!

Warmest regards,
Bob Barnes
post #70 of 99
Thread Starter 
I’ve been struggling with the loss of Jerry Berg. And, while riding my bicycle today, I finally figured out why.

Bergie was a pain in the ass.

Yes, he was, wasn't he, Weems? He never made it easy, because that would be the easy way out. Easy is the road to mediocrity, and to anyone thinking about heading down that road, Bergie quickly became a pain in the ass. He simply wouldn't allow it. If you chose not to ski the "six line," the highest score you could possibly get would be a five--but you probably woudn't even pass (PSIA-RM certification references--6 is highest, 4 is passing). If you ever thought "good enough" was good enough, Bergie would become the pain in the ass that would prod you back to work. When people would complain about "bad snow conditions," Bergie could remind you by example that if you think "good" means "easy," you have chosen to suck at a level beneath you. Bergie inspired us to DO HARD THINGS! What a pain in the ass he was.

And I, for one, will be forever grateful, and far the better for it. Thank you, Bergie.

Best regards,
post #71 of 99

Bob, I have never met you but you and Weems have such a way with words that all of what you say rings so true to me and I am sure to everyone else who reads these posts about Bergie.  He and I lost contact for quite a while why he was in Aspen, but had gotten together last fall and it seemed like we were able to pick up right where we left off.  I am sure that's how he was with everyone.  In spite of the cause for getting together on Sunday I will cherish seeing all the old friends that we had in common, and am surly going to enjoy all the Bergie stories, no matter how many times I have heard them.  Looking forward to seeing as many of you as can make it. 

post #72 of 99

Bob, your eloquent tribute reminds me that Bergie's Mt. Sopris Ski School was the inspiration for EpicSki Academy. Maybe Weems could tell that story.

post #73 of 99

The Mt. Sopris Ski School was a concept of Bergie's


The Epic Ski Academy was modeled after it, and a few other tricks Bergie pulled to find the best pros.


My memory is that we were sitting around discussing how to verify who were the strongest of the trainers in order to find out who should verify us. He said that we all kind of knew who was the strongest and together, voting on trainers, we'd find a consensus.


And then he asked me sort of off-handedly..."I mean, if you were to leave Aspen and start a ski school on Mt Sopris with 100 ski pros, who would you take from here?  You probably hardly have to think about it." I suspect he had said that before, but that day in my mind, the idea of the Mt. Sopris Ski School was born. When we did the Epic Ski Academy, it was just a subjective judgment about who were the very strongest coaches we could find.


It's the concept of elite, but not necessarily exclusive. Anyone could step up to the level. All they had to do was, well, step up to the level.


I really liked Bergie's vision.


And, after reading all the stuff on FB and here, I guess I have a new definition of charisma.


See y'all Sunday in Avon for the service.  Joy and Sorrow.  Tears and Laughter.

Edited by weems - 6/8/12 at 8:12pm
post #74 of 99

Jerry was the greatest, I hadn't seen him since I left Vail for Aspen, but can't believe he's gone.  RIP -  Stands for Rip It.  

post #75 of 99

Many of us can only be there in spirit, Weems, and we trust you and Bob to represent. I wish I could be there. Having read all the words of tribute, all I can say is, I didn't know him near well enough.  

post #76 of 99

We will, Nolo.  I'll wear my EpicSki hat!  :)

post #77 of 99

And you will rock it! Thanks, Weems. 

post #78 of 99

Even though I have never met Jerry, I feel that I know him from all the wonderful things that friends in the Vail Valley have said and the many postings I have read. My condolences to those of you that truly knew him.

post #79 of 99
Originally Posted by SkiNurse View Post

Even though I have never met Jerry, I feel that I know him from all the wonderful things that friends in the Vail Valley have said and the many postings I have read. My condolences to those of you that truly knew him.


And you see his tone, teaching and experience in many of the Instructors here on Epic like Bob, Weems, Squatty and more. 

post #80 of 99

I'm thinking maybe he gets to ski with Stu now.

post #81 of 99

Bergie in China, Jan, 2009.  We love you and we all miss you!  R.I.P!



Edited by Snow for Rest - 6/10/12 at 7:51am
post #82 of 99
Thread Starter 
I'm thinking maybe he gets to ski with Stu now.

Wouldn't you love to watch and listen in on that one, Epic?


How fortunate are we whose paths have chanced to cross with such as these?

Best regards,
post #83 of 99

A while back, there was a thread titled  Three skiers you want to ride a lift with? 


  I'll have to go back and look.  But, there are some great ones who've passed that I'd like to ride a chair lift with again, or for the first time. 

Can you imagine a chair lift ride with Stu, Weems* and Bergie, but first I'd make Weems put his hearing aid in. biggrin.gif

post #84 of 99

Terrible loss for our sport.


Berg footage on Breakthrough on Skis video inspired me like nothing else I have ever seen. The smile as brilliant and alive as the turns.....


Best demonstration skier ever IMHO.



post #85 of 99

I'll second that. I remember watching the first Breakthrough on Skis video back in the early 90's and just being blown away by his skiing. Lito was probably one of the most graceful skiers I have ever seen, and Jerry was undoubtedly one of the most dynamic. Jerry's run down Olympic Bowl in the third Breakthrough on Skis video has got to be one of my all time favorites. He set a standard that I'll never be able to live up to, but he inspired me to keep on trying.

post #86 of 99
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post

I'm thinking maybe he gets to ski with Stu now.
Wouldn't you love to watch and listen in on that one, Epic?
How fortunate are we whose paths have chanced to cross with such as these?
Best regards,

post #87 of 99

Ron LeMaster has gathered his best photos of Jerry here.

post #88 of 99

Wow, Look at that smile!

post #89 of 99

Looks like Herbie will be joining them.



post #90 of 99

Herbie Schneider!  What a great person.  I did have the pleasure of meeting him for a moment in 1969.  I was really pleased to have that chance, and I'm thrilled that he was able to have such a great and full life and accomplish so much.

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