Sharing The Snowboarding Stoke: An Interview With Scott Anfang
The first thing I notice about Scott Anfang is his incredible passion and enthusiasm for snowboarding. His eyes light up intensely as he explains in detail how to hit the half pipe, the motion and sensation of riding up the wall, the transition from edge to flat to edge and how to ride down and up the other wall. Scott explains it in such a simple way that you ‘get it’ immediately and wonder why it had seemed so much more complicated before. Pulling it off is another thing but you know…small steps!
Mick and I first met Scott during a freestyle snowboard camp. We only spent a short amount of time with Scott, but he made a huge impression. Genuine, down-to-earth and a wealth of knowledge. It was later that we found out, (because people kept telling us), that he’s kind of a big deal within the snowsports industry.
Scott has contributed greatly to the snowboard industry - from teaching beginners how to link their first turns, to leading training and assessments for snowboard instructors, to coaching the AASI (American Association of Snowboard Instructors) National Snowboard Team.
Scott lives a life that many dream of - snowboarding is a part of his job description, he does it year round and it takes him all over the world. Read on to hear about Scott’s journey and his solid advice for anyone thinking about becoming a snowboard instructor.
Q. Let’s kick off with your rap sheet.
A. I was a snowboarder for many years before getting involved in teaching and coaching. I started teaching to get a pass and fell in love with teaching, sharing and helping others enjoy snowboarding. I no longer did it for the pass. I went through my certification process in the States, then started coming to New Zealand for seasons, always helping to build and promote snowsports, through instructing at snowsports schools, leading trainings for snowsports schools, leading training and exams for both AASI as well as SBINZ (Snowboard Instructors of New Zealand), 3 time national snowboard team member for AASI and current coach of the AASI National Snowboard Team. I am also currently the training team leader for The Remarkables. I’m proud this is a work rap sheet and not a legal one as it is fairly long and complicated!
Q. What age did you start snowboarding and what was your home mountain growing up?
A. I was about 11 and my home mountain was a golf course in Minnesota called Town and Country. We hiked sledding hills and made terrain park type features out of the sand traps. We were doing this because snowboarding was not allowed at most resorts yet and it was what we had to play with in the city.
Q. When and how did you decide to get into snow sports as a career?
A. I moved from Minnesota to Colorado with the intention of just spending a season riding; well, that turned into a career that has taken me all over the world and opened up so much opportunity. To answer this directly, I decided to make this a career when I learned how to teach and share this with others.
Q. What is it that you love about coaching/teaching?
A. Getting people excited and involved in something that I love - sharing what I know and do. When someone does something for the 1st time, or they are doing things they never thought they would be doing, that’s pretty amazing in itself but to know that you’re partially responsible for helping make that happen is a pretty awesome feeling.
Q. Snowboarding is your passion and also your career. A lot of people don’t like to mix the two. How do you keep your personal passion alive?
A. This is a huge question and a very difficult one at that. Snowboarding is my passion, teaching is my career. I keep the personal passion alive by remembering to get out and simply enjoy myself on the mountain. This can happen in many ways - a few park laps, doing a banked slalom or freeride event, going out and spending a day hiking to new terrain. Remembering why I got involved in this industry is always a reminder for me. I did not get involved to run lineups, organise kids lunches etc., but doing all those things have provided that amazing opportunity for others and keeps me coming back for me. Every now and again I get a day, a few turns or something that puts an amazing smile on my face, energy in my sails and reminds me of why I continue to do this.
Q. You had a brief time away from the industry. Tell us about that and why you decided to come back?
A. That brief time is what some people call having a summer. I did stop doing back to back winters and enjoyed a few summers back in Colorado. I returned for personal reasons along with a strong sense of belonging to the global snow sports community and industry itself. I can’t imagine being this committed and motivated to investing such a massive part of my life to anything else.
Q. How does your Northern and Southern Hemisphere season differ? What does a typical day look like for you?
A. Let me just get one thing straight. There is no typical day in my world! My Northern Hemisphere season I base out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I’m a trainer there and I do a lot of private lessons. As the season progresses, I end up doing more clinics and traveling for AASI-RM division and for AASI National which brings me all over the country and internationally. So lots of different projects, travels, resorts, and time with amazing people. In the Southern Hemisphere, I have a more routine life spending most of my days up at The Remarkables, either working with daily operations, out on a training session, running special events like Burton SnowBroads and Volkl SkiQueens, or even just out teaching, which to be honest is one of the things that keeps the passion alive. If it’s a day off I will be outside doing something, somewhere. If the snow is good I will be out riding somewhere.
Q. What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the industry?
A. Get a true understanding of the different jobs out there. There is this vision of what you think a job is and the reality of what the job really is - figure this out before you invest time, energy and money. You must be willing to make sacrifices in this industry, some may be money related, others schedule and calendar related. Remember you will be the busiest when all your family and friends have time off.
Q. How would someone go about becoming a coach or instructor?
A. In different parts of the world, the process to become involved as an instructor will be different but the common thing as in any industry is getting involved, meeting people. Simply put, being a good person. There are programs to get training and certification. Then you can get a job starting as a qualified instructor, or some resorts hire people who have good people skills and snowboarding skills, then invest in them by offering training to continue to develop their staff. Then we have organisations such as SBINZ and AASI which offer a certification course where you will be educated and evaluated to earn different levels of certification.
Q. What are the challenges of being an instructor?
A. Some of the biggest challenges are the schedule. If you truly want to be successful you have to pretty much open your schedule to your guests. It’s difficult to fit in work, training, social life and any other activities. The balance is there but not always easy to manage. I know this from experience - remember why you started this journey and don’t lose sight of those values.
Q. What attributes do you think are important in a good coach/instructor?
A. Empathy and communication skills. When you make a good connection with someone in a lesson and you are truthful, honest and being yourself, there is a bond that starts to form. From this, you establish some trust and this creates an amazing learning environment. Being passionate about the sport is also important as people can sense and feel that in your teaching.
Q. What’s the plan for the future? Any exciting projects coming up?
A. This is an Inter-Ski year so I will be heading to Bulgaria in March with the AASI National team to meet with other national team members from around the world. AASI is working on a project with Burton Snowboards to get kids into snowboarding in non traditional ways, bringing snowboarding to them in their schools. Amazing project to be a part of and we are bringing this concept and idea and sharing it with to the world at Inter-ski.
I’m also co-founder of GoSnow, a booking platform for instructors and activities which is getting some awesome attention and pushing the snowsport industry forward by making it easier for people to participate. Currently working with resorts in New Zealand and Australia with more getting on board in North America this season. It’s a free download at the app store or google play store - here is your chance to get started with that involvement. Check it out, meet others that shred and connect with instructors/coaches anywhere in the world. Other than that and a handful of other things not much happening!