A Tribute to Jean Mayer

While I personally have only known Jean Mayer, for 14 years, PSIA-Rocky Mountain-AASI has known him for 60. His contributions and commitment far exceed most. There are no words that can define the gratitude our community of educators has for this man, and it is impossible to come close to scratching the surface in describing the impact he had on American ski instruction.

It is ironic because when I think of Jean, I remember a man of few words. Much like the food he prepared, at the Hotel St. Bernard, carefully choosing every ingredient, what words he spoke, he considered and assured they had infinite impact. However last summer when we decided as an organization to go paperless, we were scanning member files into our database and Jean’s was the thickest one we had. Jean had integrity above anything else. Some may have described him as controversial, but I saw someone who was genuine and faithful always to what he believed was right. He did so at the expense of being popular. Never did he go along, to get along. This attribute, as a leader, is one I wish to emulate forever in his memory.


Among many things, Jean was awarded Lifetime membership with the organization and given the Golden Ski for educational excellence. The list of accomplishments pales in comparison to what he stood for.  As I reviewed a letter sent by Jean in 1984, I believe this depicts a perfect example of his virtue as he examined his peers (pasted below):

“Instructors are and should be, individuals with personalities, open to creativity based on strong knowledge and ability. They should not be robots who come from the same mold. The field of ski instruction is alive, never perfected, never final. One needs to be human first, mechanical later…”

“The beauty of skiing in America is that in the field of instruction, there are many trends of thoughts and idea which enhance one another – let’s keep it that way and not be satisfied with perfective mediocrity”

I share this with you, our members, not only because you should remember this, but also because I want you to know that the Rocky Mountain Educators and Examiners are always challenging the system to assure we always have you, the individual in mind.

On a personal note, I was fortunate that Jean and I wrote letters back and forth. In these, we shared our views on education, life, and love. There is something incredibly special about a handwritten letter from a dear friend.

Last night I wrote him one last time….

Dear Jean, 

Never have I met someone who could make me feel so loved, valued and cared for, and you did this in the first 30 seconds I met you. You are the type of educator, friend and mentor I strive to be like. I will be sure to visit you in my dreams so we can ski, dine and sing together again. 

Thank you for making me a better human. 

Je t’aime Jean Mayer, you will forever be in my heart. 

Your dear friend,  


PS: I know many of you reading this article had the pleasure of knowing and possibly even skiing with Jean. My request to you is to carry on his legacy. For everyone else reading this, take a run for Jean this year, no one loved to ski more than him. This will however require getting really small, like 5’2” and sliding faster than you are likely comfortable with, all while passing people yelling “don’t cut at the mountain, caress it” in a strong French accent!

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