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Meet The Coaches

Wondering who will be your coach when you visit Wildcat Mountain? Get a chance to meet the coaches with a few Q&A biographies below.

Mimi Wong
I am a West Coast girl who grew up in Oregon. After college, I moved to NH where I spent the next 20 years working as a social worker. Living close to Wildcat allowed me to try skiing for the first time about 10 years ago.  After 5-6 years on skis, I made the switch to snowboarding and the rest is history.  I am in my happy place anytime there is a lot of powder to carve.  On the mountain, I have always loved riding Upper Polecat to Middle Catapult and ending at Wild Kitten.  Now happily retired, I have been teaching snowboarding to beginners for two years.  My summer time activities include riding mountain bikes and motorcycles, exploring new locales and I’m on a quest to visit as many diners, drive-inns and “dive” restaurants during my travels. One of my all time favorite movies is the 1985 classic, Clue, based on the board game of the same name. My dream profession is to be a personal shopper.

Virgil Abbot
I grew up here in the Mount Washington Valley and began skiing at about five years old. I became a Certified Ski Instructor at twenty one but with military, college and work career, my skiing interest became one of part time Alpine Competitions Coach and Alpine Official. I raced as a youth, and competing in sports has always been of interest to me.  In 2005 I re-Certified Level III with Professional Ski Instructors of America, (PSIA).

My other interests are pretty much limited to wooden boats, sailing, gardening, art and architecture; my degree is in Architecture. Although I’m trying to learn golf, it’s more punishment than anything. Mark Twain called golf, “a good walk spoiled”, I agree. Before I owned a sail boat I did a fair amount of hiking and camping here in the White Mountains and had some success white water canoe racing.

Currently I am reading A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking; and reading and reading and reading! Is light made up of particles or waves, and can it be affected by gravity? A great chairlift conversation, ha!

If I were to attempt another career path skiing would be involved, but I think I might like teaching or carpentry. So maybe teaching carpentry to skiers or teaching skiing to carpenters; maybe I’d just come full circle to where I am.

Burke York
I am a local kid (now in my 40’s) that grew up here at Wildcat. I started skiing around the age of five, and up until recently, my fondest memories were of my high school years, sharing my enjoyment with friends at the mountain. Particular days of old are tattooed on my brain… Monster whales on Bobcat, bringing my girlfriend (now wife) to get professional ski instruction, on what may have been the coldest, windiest, most brutal day ever at any ski area- I am amazed that she married me, and eventually came back to skiing. More recently my fondest memories are watching my two children and wife catch some of that Wildcat magic that travels on the blowing snowflakes, and watching the smiles that come along with the thrill of accomplishment. My goals are to become a better teacher and skier, and to continue to improve in all aspects of being a professional snowsports instructor.

Martha Hatch Leich
I have been coming to Wildcat all my life; it's home. I married a ski patroller, raised two ski racers here, and live in North Conway. Having grown up in a ski club with a lodge in the valley,  a tele skier who alpine skis a lot, and snowboards a little, I’ve worked here since the early 80's. I also like to run, bike, hike, read, and make things. My favorite trail is the old gondola lift line top to bottom in the spring. The views of Mt Washington from Wildcat still amaze me. I like to turn non-skier kids into skiers, help those who are a little nervous, and teach people to telemark. In my spare time I like to read mysteries, watch movies that are not dark or complicated, and listen to good music while out for a run. In the course of the year I have 4 different jobs and love the variety. If I were to do something else, I would probably work in an elementary school.

Sandra Russo
Born and bred on the north shore of Long Island, NY, I taught art in public school for twenty-five years. As a child, I loved to be outside, actively moving, and things haven’t changed. I began skiing at Wildcat with my husband in 1977 and made lots of friends there, many of whom were our instructors and mentors. These friendships endure to this day. We were hooked on skiing and Wildcat, driving from Long Island to the Valley on weekends and vacations no matter what the weather. I think we were referred to as “the crazy Long Island couple”. We now live here full time. I’ve taught skiing for twenty-one years. I have lots of patience and enjoy building someone’s confidence so that they can comfortably enjoy this great sport. My favorite trail is the one that has given me the most joy that day. Other interests are mountain and road biking, hiking, kayaking, yoga, and taking our German Shepherd, Zorro, for his daily workout. I love art, theatre, gardening (the designing part, not so much the maintenance), and the Costa Rican rain forest. My musical tastes are varied: Billy Joel (a LI boy), Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, Alicia Keys, Adele, jazz, and acapella groups (especially the Pentatonix). In another life I would be a professional dancer.

Greg Burns
My original hometown was Wellesley, MA., and I currently live in Salem MA. I came to skiing from a mountaineering background. My love for being in the mountains is an important part of my life and the approach I take to ski instruction. My objective in every lesson is to cultivate an enthusiasm for being in the outdoors in New England in winter and developing or adding to a student’s skiing skills. My own kids grew up through the mountain programs at Wildcat and my brother patrolled at Wildcat for years. It is, in short, one of my favorite places on the planet. If I had to choose a favorite trail, it would be …well … all of them!! But, OK - to pick one I’m going with Cheetah – so much variety available in terms of pitch, fall away and open terrain for ripping!! I like kids, bumps, trees, etc. – I love teaching and feel I am best with beginners, second timers and moving intermediates out of their comfort zone
I am an avid student of history, public affairs, music (theory and practice), art (in every form), and my family. My two favorite movies are The Godfather, and The Ruling Class. As for music, Sonny Rollins – The Bridge, Saxophone Colossus, and the other has to be everyone else’s fave : Miles – Kind Of Blue. I am planning to be the “Condiment King” when I retire in a few years. I am an accomplished chef and I hope to develop a line of sauces and condiments which may or may not develop into a product line which will at least pay for my new skis!

Sean Callahan
I’m Sean Callahan from Lynnfield, MA, where I have lived most of my life except for a few years at college in Canada. I have been skiing at Wildcat for 25+ years and teaching for the last seven years, most of that time in the children’s seasonal program. Skiing is a family affair: my wife learned to ski at Wildcat as an adult, and our children grew up skiing here every weekend, influenced by incredible, caring instructors and mentors. My favorite trail is Lower Wildcat, especially the Wildcat pitch: it’s less-traveled, a little gnarly at times, and always interesting.  I am an avid music fan, and my son and I try to catch concerts of our favorite jam bands as often as we can.  In the summer time I enjoy biking, traveling and catching up with all the friends and family we miss seeing in the wintertime.

Jeff Lea
I am currently in my 26th season of ski teaching at Wildcat.  Having retired after 36 years as a high school French teacher and soccer coach at Staples High in Westport,CT, I am no longer a “weekend warrior” making the weekly drive to and from Fairfield, CT on Friday  and Sunday nights, but now spend the winter season at my cabin in Bartlett, teaching both Alpine and Telemark skiing  at Wildcat, and guiding ice climbing and winter mountaineering for the EMS Climbing School.  I hold PSIA certifications in both ski disciplines (Alpine Level 2, Telemark Level 3) and am passionate about sharing this sport with beginning to advanced skiers on either alpine or free-heel equipment.

I first skied at Wildcat with my Dad in 1959, and fell in love with the beauty of the Pinkham Notch area immediately. Since that first day, I have only missed skiing here during one four year period, when for various family and employment reasons I didn't ski at all. In the other seasons, my wife and I enjoy traveling, often to areas which also allow me to indulge my love of rock climbing, which has taken me all over North America and Europe, both with friends and guiding clients. As a result of our travels, we have made life-long friends in many far-flung places, all of which we want to visit again, to renew acquaintances and revisit familiar sights. The main problem is that we also have an ever-growing list of places we haven’t yet seen about which we are intensely curious. We plan to continue to carry on doing the best we can to “do it all”.
I hope all who read this will give me and my fellow Wildcat instructors the chance this year to help you further enjoy the winter season and this sport which is such a passion for us. Whether you are young or not so young, absolute beginner or very experienced, we are able to address your needs and help you to continued enjoyment of this great sport.

Ronn Chaisson
I live in Berlin, N.H.  For as long as I can remember I have been skiing at Wildcat as it is only 18 miles from my home.  This is my 16th year as a Wildcat instructor, mostly on the race hill, hence my specialty, race training, with focus on high school athletes as well as adults of all ages. I have been a certified high school USSCA coach, and along with my Wildcat duties, was coach of the Berlin High School ski team for many, many years. I am proud to be a member of what I consider to be one of the finer ski schools in the East.  My favorite trail at Wildcat is coming over Evel K onto Bobcat when snow conditions are hard and fast, and especially when hill traffic permits, to just let the skis rock & roll all the way down the steeps of Upper Bobcat, and the rolling terrain of the lower portion. I try to stay in shape year round, I do alot of running---one of my better accomplishments is that I have run and completed the Mount Washington Road Race 24 times and hope to do my 25th next year-.  Along with my best friend (who is also my wife), I enjoy motorcycling, driving our sports car, fly-fishing, kayaking and spending time with our sheepdog.  My favorite song is Stairway to Heaven (really like all classic rock), and love to read a good novel on every occasion that I can.  Having spent most of my working years in the financial occupations, I am now semi-retired, teaching special education(one-on-one) at my local middle school...............I look forward to meeting you on the ski slopes here at Wildcat Mountain.

Leo Conlin
I live in Norton, Massachusetts and have a vacation home in Madison, New Hampshire. I am a level 2 certified AASI Snowboard instructor during the weekend and a Project Manager in Information Technology during the week.  After graduating from Merrimack College and landing a good paying job, I was able afford the sport of skiing that always intrigued me.  A good friend of mine offered to teach me how to ski.  We trekked off to Loon Mountain for a day of skiing.  After a few pointers at the learning area, he said ”let’s go to the top”. During that scary experience, I realized the importance of professional instruction. I was a skier for many years until I experienced the thrill of snowboarding back in 1994. I have never looked back since! I enjoy sharing my passion for snowboarding with all ages and abilities. My other interests are golf, riding my Harley and traveling to other parts of the country and world.  I am quite content with my current two professions. Nothing is more fun than cruising down the Cheetah trail knee deep in powder!

Althea Cranton
I grew up skiing in New Hampshire. Every winter weekend my parents brought my sister and me to Black Mt. for lessons (while they skied.) As soon as Wildcat opened they brought us there for lessons with Bruce Fenn who they knew from Stowe. I have been a Wildcat skier ever since.  My daughter went through the seasonal program before switching to the race team. I was president of the Wildcat Ski Team and have been an instructor for 10 plus years.  I enjoy teaching skiing and love to get students who are between the ages of 7 and 14 years old. I do a lot of seasonal coaching which is very rewarding because you are with the same students for the season and can really work on many issues. It is so exciting to be part of this progression. We begin on the easy stuff and by the end of the season, snow permitting; we are bouncing down the Black Diamonds. I am currently a special education teacher for the 8th grade. I have a masters degree in Special Education and an MBA. I love to read and have many favorite books.  I enjoy a wide variety of music but I love to get going to the Rolling Stones, Tina Turner and Elton John, but listen to The River radio station or to 93.5 when I am in the Valley.

Jack DeVries
I'm a transplant...hometown, Kinnelon NJ. This is my fourth year instructing at Wildcat, what a great mountain setting it is! I like to teach beginners and see the fun they have in learning how to ski. For me it’s rewarding to watch their skills and confidence grow. My favorite trail is the Wildcat trail with all the alpine views and terrain it has to offer. During the off season I like to hike in the White Mountains and instruct motorcycle riders for the NHDMV. If you're into outdoor movies, 180 Degrees South (great sound track) and Steep will fit the bill. See you at the 'Cat.

Roland Dubois
I grew up in Saco, Me and graduated from Thornton Academy.  I attended the University of Maine and graduated with a degree in Engineering Physics.  I can still plainly recall my first skiing venture to Sugarloaf where my “good” friends strapped some skis on me and took me to an intermediate area and declared I was “good to go.”  I believe they lapped me three times before I reached the base lodge and I was hooked.  After about forty years of working in industry, and raising three children, my wife and I moved to Glen, NH to begin the most exciting phase of our lives.  I took up mountain biking, road biking, climbing mountains, Nordic skiing motorcycling, and began Alpine skiing in earnest.  I have been instructing at Wildcat for eleven years and am certified for teaching Alpine and Telemark skiing.   I enjoy music from Classical to Old Time music and perhaps not so fond of Rap and Hard Rock.  The only movie that stands out to me is  Scent of a Woman.  I have no favorite book, but I do enjoy historical, factual, books.  As corny as this may be, I have always enjoyed what I did professionally and being a practical person, I would repeat it in my second life. I have no regrets!

Hallie Fall
I have always enjoyed snowsports and learned to ski at the age of 4 at Attitash. A local gal from the town of Bartlett, I started teaching skiing at Attitash the day I turned 14 and haven't stopped since. When I'm not on the hill I enjoy cross country skiing, cooking, hiking, knitting and dancing. I have been teaching skiing for 13 years and have been lucky enough to spend the last 3 years here at Wildcat. My favorite trails at Wildcat are the Lynx and the Wild Kitten, I also really like skiing in the trees and moguls because they are a wonderful challenge for me, which goes to show that you never stop learning. I specialize in teaching children, the future of our sport! My favorite television shows are Once Upon a Time, American Horror Story and The Vampire Diaries. I graduate from college in May with a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science, and when I grow up I want to attempt to be a mental health counselor and have a lake house.

Leo Farley
Born in Lowell, and living in Braintree, MA, I’ve been skiing since grammar school. I have skied Wildcat every season since 1978, and I still enjoy every run.  My kids grew up skiing in the programs at Wildcat and my wife and I have great friendships from the mountain and the Bobcat Lodge. Too bad my “real job” only lets me be there weekends and holidays! After coaching as a level II alpine instructor for about fifteen seasons, I advocate  low stress learning. This is FUN not work. Relax and enjoy it! There is nothing more satisfying than watching a guest who was nervous start smiling and making turns. My other Interests include sailing, snowshoeing, hiking, biking, and reading.

Ralph Fiore
I retired to Glen, NH 6 years ago.  I’ve been married 46 years to Sally, and we have 4 adult children and 7 grandchildren.  In my professional life I was an engineer and manager in the telecommunication industry. I grew up in Waltham, MA and lived in Tewksbury, MA where we raised our children. One of the other ski instructors at Wildcat taught me to ski 45 years ago. This is my 5th year teaching at Wildcat where my favorite trail is the Alley Cat. When not skiing I can be found snowshoeing in the winter and riding my road or mountain bicycle the rest of the year. I also enjoy golf, kayaking and hiking.  What little quiet time I have is spent reading Lee Child’s Jack Reacher stories or books by Harlan Coben. I would not trade my retirement as it gives me time to be with my children and grandchildren and to volunteer in the community.

Hank Forman
I have been a PSIA member for 23 years and have obtained the status of Level 3 certification. I have been coaching at Wildcat for about 12 years, and I am a member of the Training Team. In addition to coaching at Wildcat, I have also taught at Sunday River, Yagoo Valley in Rhode Island, Ski Sundown in Connecticut, and Black Mountain in Rumford, Maine. I am employed as a full-time carpenter, year round. I grew up in Edgewood, Rhode Island and went to St. Andrews School. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, and  have an Electronics Technician certificate from RETS Electronics School in Pennsylvania. I served in the United States Navy, and was a sailing instructor at the Edgewood Yacht Club. I have two sons, Benjamin (an Operations Specialist in the United States Navy)and Schuyler (a novitiate in a Buddhist monastery). I am married to Valerie (Elmore) Forman…we met on a chairlift at Sunday River! One of my proudest moments was serving as the sailing instructor for Henry Childers, when he was child. I was his first sailing instructor. Henry went on to become a member of Dennis Connors’ crew (they went on to win the America’s Cup sailing competition and brought it back to America from the Australians). My other Interests include walking on the beach, movies, hiking, bicycling, sailing, photography, making repairs to my home, and spending time with my wife.

Bob Gargano
From Pelham, NH, I am a former member of the USMC where I instructed Back Country Skiing in Norway, Sweden and Denmark for NATO. I have about 40 years of skiing experience and for the last few years I’ve been racing in the USSA, N.E. Masters Race Team which is quite challenging. I am Sr. V.P. for a Development company located in Marblehead, MA.  I am also trained in Civil Engineering. In the off season I compete in Triathlon events throughout New England to stay fit year round. My favorite trail at Wildcat is Upper and Lower Catapult.  I’ve been skiing Wildcat since my first High School trip and now I’m fortunate enough to be part of its extended family. My main interest is in Racing, Coaching and advanced Skills.

Brian Guilbert
I have been married for 35 years with two beautiful daughters each with one child with a third grandchild on the way! From Haverhill, MA, I am a Full time manager at the US Postal Service working the evening/night shift. We have a home in the mountains where we spend many of our weekends as a family and enjoy all that the area has to offer.
After 28 years of teaching in the seasonal groups, I enjoy teaching children of all ages. I also don’t mind teaching and working with adults at any level. If the group is capable, I really enjoy skiing in the trees and glades. The most important thing is safety and having fun. My favorite trail is Lynx because of its views.
My other interests include skiing, snowboarding, running, landscaping, and my family. As for movies, my favorite is It’s a Wonderful Life. My favorite song is Dave Matthews’ Proudest Monkey to which I danced with my daughter Caitlin this past summer at her wedding. If I had to change professions, I’d like to be an architect.

Tim Guilbert
I have a long history of teaching and coaching at Wildcat Mountain (30 years) as a staff trainer and overseeing Wildcat’s Junior Seasonal programs. I am certified with the Professional Ski Instructors of America and will help you enjoy skiing in a variety of conditions and terrain. You will thoroughly enjoy the learning experience as I broaden your horizons and open new chapters of skiing for you. My favorite trail is the Upper Wildcat. From Rye, N.H., I have interests in golf, biking, hiking, white water kayaking, and spending time with my family. I am a big fan of New England sports teams.

Mark (Homer) Holmes
Over the last 39 years I have had a long and varied ski teaching history with Wildcat Mountain. Certified with the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA), I am a staff trainer and have formerly served on the PSIA Development Team. I am from Shelburne, N.H. Hopefully, I make the learning experience, fun, interesting and a time you will long remember. My favorite trail is the Lynx. When not skiing, I am interested in gardening, golf, and hiking in the mountains. And I love Western movies.

Fred Keith
This will be my twelfth year teaching at Wildcat and my 47th year as a skier. I pretty much like all aspects of being a ski-coach whether it’s working with the little peanuts on the front lawn (I brought one up skiing here) or working on game-improvement with expert adults. I guess you could count me in as one of Wildcat’s biggest cheerleaders. The culture, camaraderie, fellowship and physical presence here in the Notch defines the term “soul of skiing” you read about. I grew up skiing and racing with friends at little areas in upstate New York like Toggenberg and Mystic Mountain and family ski vacations were spent in Vermont and the Adirondacks. My first job as a ski instructor was at Greek Peak in Virgil, NY while attending college. Like so many others I moved out west to Colorado after school, continued to coach here and there, but mostly just skied all over. I seem to also remember having a job. Wildcat to me has a similar “real skier” vibe as other favorites like A-Basin, Grand Targhee and Jay Peak. My favorite trail experience here is the upper part of Cougar: on a good snow day with the sunlight coming in through the birch and aspen, you definitely get a western feel. I tend to like non-fiction books and movies about history, and I am a huge fan of any solid rock and roll with a good guitar riff. Although the corporate high-tech world pays the bills, teaching skiing is a fun and rewarding weekend gig that keeps me off the streets, and if I my long lost uncle willed me millions tomorrow, I would do more of it.

John Knight
John has a long history of teaching and coaching at Wildcat Mountain (23 years). He is a staff trainer and teaches in the adult seasonal program. He is certified with the Professional Ski Instructors of America. John is from Worcester, Ma.  John will help you enjoy skiing in a variety of conditions and terrain. You will enjoy skiing with John, as he introduces you to a mountain experience that will be fun and educational at the same time. John’s favorite trail is the Upper Wildcat. When not skiing, John has interests in golf, biking, in-line skating, boating and spending time with his family. He is a big fan of New England Patriots.
Emily Kwesell
I am currently a sophomore at The University of New Hampshire and am from Portsmouth, NH so I’ve lived in the ski culture of New Hampshire almost my whole life! I have two full years of experience under my belt and absolutely love teaching people how to ski.  Whenever I get a chance to pass on and share my passion for skiing, I take it. My favorite trail at Wildcat has got to be Cheetah. It’s the perfect trail for speed and carving, I just love getting up on my edges and tearing down a slope!  Besides skiing, I really enjoy hiking, rock climbing, hanging out with my family and friends and reading. I am an avid reader and will devour any book that comes across my path. I am a huge geek and love the Harry Potter series and the Lord of the Rings books and movies but I’m also a big fan of the more classic authors like Hemingway and Fitzgerald.  Although I would love to be a ski bum my whole life, I am at UNH for a reason!  I’m currently pursuing a dual major in International Affairs and Journalism with minors in History and French. I someday hope to be a journalist who gets to travel the globe, write, and (of course) ski.  To me, that would be living the dream!  

Sean McKenna
From Arlington, MA, I’m 30 years old, and have been a Weekend Warrior since my folks built a place in Madison in the late 80’s. This will be sixth year teaching riding at The Cat. I also taught skiing here for three years in high school, but that first day on the board marked my last day on skis. I work as an accountant in Boston during the week, and on the weekends,  if I’m not on the mountain, you can usually find me watching sports.  I love riding it all - from steeps, to bumps, to trees, and those nice corduroy groomers.

Marsha Rich
Although I grew up in New York City, I came to New Hampshire to attend Dartmouth College, and have been in love with the outdoors, mountains and skiing ever since. I now live in Chichester, NH.

I am a PSIA Level I instructor, in my third year of teaching at Wildcat. I am also a yoga teacher, adjunct college meteorology instructor and a Trustee of the Mount Washington Observatory. I am passionate about skiing, but after the snow melts I enjoy sailing, kayaking, hiking and gardening.

I love to teach adults who are new to skiing, as well as those who feel stuck at their current level and wish to find more comfort, ease and fun on skis. My favorite trail is the Upper Wildcat, and while I listen to all kinds of music, my favorite song title is Stormy Weather – you've got to get that snow somehow!

I have had several past professions including Caribbean charter boat captain, middle and high school science teacher, and chief domestic engineer and logistics manager (for a household with two kids who are now in college). I am hoping to find some ideas for my next profession in the bios of other instructors!

Jamie Rosencranz
I have been a ski instructor for 20 years . I began teaching, at the age of 15, at the Egon Zimmerman Ski School (Egon was a well-known Austrian Olympic racer) at the Blue Hills in Canton Massachusetts, just outside Boston where I grew up in the center of the city, in the South End (not to be confused with Southie). Nobody in my family skied, but when I was 11, my mother took me to the Blue Hills one Sunday afternoon, where I had a private lesson with my Austrian instructor, and I was hooked. The entire first year I was a fat kid who couldn’t get up when he fell (my instructor had to help me. LOL). I am a Certified Level II member of the Professional Ski Instructors Association (PSIA).  I really enjoy turning people on to the joys of skiing, as it is my favorite thing to do.  Skiing is about having fun and enjoying the beauty of the mountains in winter.  My philosophy in ski teaching is to give students the skills to enjoy the outdoors in winter. Skiing is not about whether your left arm is at a 90’ angle to your sternum, or what you look like doing it; it is about fun. You want to have fun down Polecat, or in the trees or in the bumps?  I’m ready to go there with you and show you how to be safe and have fun doing it. I am a big believer in using video to help my students learn. As Wildcat is rated No. 1 for Scenery among all ski areas in the East, pictures taken at Wildcat are stunning. Wildcat has such a variety of terrain, it is a great place to teach and learn. I have also taught at Killington, Waterville Valley and Tyrol. I have skied all over the world, but my favorite skiing was heli-skiing in the wilderness of British Columbia; it is so beautiful and raw it takes your breath away. I am also an instrument rated pilot for single engine land planes and a scuba diver. Skiing and diving are very much like flying without an airplane and all three of these activities take place in some kind of fluid: water, air, snow.  Since I’m a Pisces it makes sense. Hope to ski with you at Wildcat this winter.

Rick Ruppel
As a P.S.I.A. level 2 certified alpine instructor, I have for the past eleven years taken a special interest in helping students of all ages and abilities overcome hurdles which are preventing them from moving on to the next level in their skiing. The Polecat has long been my favored trail, largely because of the varied teaching terrain and views which change at every corner over the more than three mile length.  Since 1980 I have been a state juried furniture maker with the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen.  I work out of my home studio in Randolph New Hampshire.  My pieces have been exhibited in museums and Galleries and are found in collections throughout North America. During my spare time I enjoy photography, sailing and visits from my family. Some of my favorite films include Annie Hall and Fargo and if Louis Armstrong is on the radio the dial does not get changed.

Rich Russo
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, I taught high school English and Theatre on Long Island for 34 years. I was a part-time instructor at Wildcat since 1982, and took over the Snowsports School shortly after retiring from my teaching job in 1998. My goal has been and still is to bring the excitement and joy of skiing to everyone who takes a lesson here at Wildcat. My favorite trails are the Upper Wildcat and the Polecat because of the incredibly beautiful views they provide from different sides of the mountain, and the variety of the terrain.

During the off-season, I enjoy hiking, biking and travelling with my wife, and long walks along the Saco with our German Shepherd, Zorro. I love theatre, and spend a good portion of the year working for M&D Productions in North Conway as a director, actor and coach. I’ve twice won the New Hampshire Theatre Award for directing (once for The Glass Menagerie in 2001 and once for Talley’s Folly in 2011.

My favorite books from classic to modern are Moby Dick, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and just about everything from Cormac McCarthy (especially The Crossing). I love movies, especially anything with Al Pacino, Robert DiNiro, Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep and Diana Ladd. In another life, I would love to act in a movie with any, or all of the above.

Carrie Ryan
I’m originally from Watkins Glen, NY and moved to Boston to attend Boston University for computer science. My dad taught me how to ski when I was 3 and he would continue to encourage my love of skiing by running my school ski club. We’d ski together every weekend during the ski season at Greek Peak in upstate NY. At the time, ski lessons were free.  I remember we would always take a lesson and would try to ski with our favorite instructor, Joe. I looked up to him and am thankful for all he taught me.  Now I’m an instructor and have been teaching here at Wildcat for 7 years. I enjoy instructing intermediate level children and encouraging them to try new terrain like moguls, trees, and steeps.  It’s a great confidence builder when then realize they can do it.  My favorite trail is the Upper Wildcat.  The view is spectacular!  My other hobbies include hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, yoga and dancing – anything that gets me outside and/or moving.  I don’t have a favorite book, but most recently have been reading the Game of Thrones series. I enjoy most types of music and try to get to a few concerts year. If I could try any other profession, I think I would be a forest ranger or try some other job that would get me away from my computer screen. I wouldn’t mind being independently wealthy either so I could ski everyday!

Mike Ryan
I am 34 years old live in West Roxbury MA. and work on highway construction, bridge projects. I was raised in Hingham MA. The 2012/2013 season will be my 12th year teaching skiing at Wildcat. I have done a lot of ski racing coaching. Some of my other interests are hockey, fishing, and riding my motorcycle.  My favorite trail would be Cheetah - You start with short turns at the top and work your way into bigger turns all the way to the two story building.  I enjoy country music. I would to be a fire fighter if I were not in construction.

Al Shafner
In real life, I’m a retired facilities manager from a MA based aerospace manufacturing company. I spent most of those years raising a family and living in Danvers, MA. In my fantasy life come true, I’m on year 24 as a level II certified alpine ski instructor at Wildcat Mountain. I now live full time in Bartlett, NH, right between Wildcat and Attitash. I specialize in working with all levels of adult skiers; beginner, intermediate and expert.

When not skiing and teaching, I’m an accomplished singer/guitar player and can be found performing as a solo artist and/or with my backup band in most of the popular restaurants and pubs throughout the Mt. Washington Valley. My favorite trails are all at Wildcat and frequently change depending on weather conditions, sun/clouds, and my mood on any particular day. The views never get old and constantly fill me with awe.

Lennie Shaw
I live in a home I designed and built in a stand of oaks on the outskirts of Bethel, Maine. I've  been fortunate enough to have taught Alpine skiing in Maine and New Hampshire for a couple of dozen years (cv available on request) and mid-week at Wildcat Mountain for the last decade or so. I love introducing adults to this wonderful sport and facilitating their growth in skills and knowledge. My favorite trail on Wildcat Mountain is Polecat. It's our longest trail and provides a terrific mix of useful teaching terrain. And...first run, with the sun slanting across the views for which Wildcat is so justifiably lauded, spectacular vistas open with each bend and turn;  it's spectacular! The long, gentle run-out toward its end is so useful for review of the skill integration experienced on the upper portions. I read incessantly -- ski books, of course, and quite a bit of science fiction. Not seeking to add more jobs to the buffet I already enjoy, I occasionally teach sculling and handgun in the warmer months, practice optometry, propagate perennials, work my woodlot, carpenter, and parent. Should some new occupation appear on my interest horizon, who knows?  

Patricia Tracy-Callahan
An  instructor in the children’s seasonal program at Wildcat, I am originally from Lennoxville, Quebec, but have lived in the Boston area for the past 25+ years. Although I grew up in the mountains of the Eastern Townships, I didn’t start skiing until my late 20s, and I became an instructor five years ago. Skiing is a family affair: my children grew up at Wildcat, influenced by incredible, caring instructors and mentors. Today they and my husband are also instructors. In addition to my full-time job at a civil engineering firm, I help with a children’s tae kwon do class and am pursuing my second-degree black belt. My favorite trail has to be Upper Wildcat, right before the first pitch where the view of Mount Washington is ever-changing and always breathtaking. That’s where I’d like to build my dream house. My favorite movie of all time is A Christmas Story—totally silly, and the bunny suit scene cracks me up every time.