Pro of the Month: Mo Mitchell
Our Pro of the Month column celebrates the remarkable individuals within The Pro Collective. Enjoy inspirational stories shared by your fellow mountain professionals and see how Faction Skis allow them to thrive on the front lines. To be featured as a Pro of the Month, or to nominate someone you know, fill out the form linked at the bottom of this page.
Mo Mitchell is a local legend in the renowned mountain town of Aspen, Colorado. Whether she’s flying down the steepest faces on Ajax Mountain with her powder posse, zooming downhill on her mountain bike or leading a string of grommet skiers through a snaking tree run, you can always tell it’s Mo, because 1) she absolutely rips, and 2) because she’s shouting jubilantly, injecting positive energy into everyone she encounters. Mo, our October Pro of the Month, joins us today to share her thoughts on the magic of coaching youth groups, as well as her favorite skis for both work and play.
What's your job on the mountain? And what does your job entail?
M: I am the U10 Alpine Coach for Aspen Valley Ski Club. In short, I coach the groms and school the next generation of ski racers. My job is to help them develop balance, coordination and movement skills on skis, as well as practice all-mountain safety, while focusing on fundamental racing technique.
How did you get into this profession?
M: I grew up as a ski racer in upstate New York. Ski racing allowed me to travel to new areas for competitions and meet tons of people around the East Coast. Naturally, I fell in love with the sport. After graduating from college, a fellow racer friend moved to Aspen and encouraged me to make the move as well. She encouraged me to work alongside her coaching the young ski racers. I fell in love with the community and the athletes. This will be my fourth year as a coach for the club.
What are the aspects of your job that make you feel proud to work in this role, and in this industry?
M: Personally speaking, racing gave me so much in life. I truly believe I work with a special age group. I guide, encourage and empower these kids to push themselves on the mountain not only physically, but mentally as well. When we push our comfort levels, we grow. These are life lessons that I hope will positively influence these children and stick with them throughout their lives.
Do you have one or two short stories to demonstrate happy or noteworthy moments on the job?
M: I sure do! One of my favorite memories was from the blower season we had two winters ago. Even though I train racers, who typically ski with sharp edges and on groomed trails, I thoroughly encourage my athletes to ski all sorts of terrain. My motto is: skiing more variable terrain makes you a stronger skier and a better athlete, and you can’t be a good ski racer without either of those under your belt. I digress. One pow day I took a group into some gnarly terrain where the snow was halfway up their thighs — they’re quite little. But I knew they could handle it. One kid who was on the younger side of 8 years old and appearing a little bummed, mentioned, “We keep falling a lot.”
I replied, that means you’re pushing yourself. There is no shame in that. Do you see what that sign says over there? Do you see what level of difficulty this run is?
The kid said, “Double black diamond?”
And I yelled, EXTREEEEME!!!
His look of concern quickly changed to a big grin and he yelled, “EXTREME!” The group hooted and hollered, then we charged on down the hill. For the rest of the season he would be one of the first helping hands if a fellow teammate went down on the mountain and always encouraging others, saying, “It’s okay that you fell, it means you’re getting better.” Big wins right there, I’d say.
M: I spend a lot of time with these kids in the winter months. If they aren’t in school, eating or sleeping, they are with me skiing. I definitely have my own lingo that I express quite often with them. One day at lunch a few kids came to me to ask a question. I responded positively, at which point the one turned to other and said, “Let’s go, my dude!” I thought to myself, where did he learn, “My dude,” at age 8. Of course it was me. It was hilarious and cute to see another way I influence the kids..
What do you ski on at work?
M: Dictator 3.0! I need a full body ski that makes snappy turns, and that provides loads of support for arcing aggressive turns. I need a ski that excels on groomers, in the trees, and in the open bowls. Basically I need a ski that performs in all terrain, all conditions, all the time. We don’t know what the day will bring when I’m coaching the kids, but with that ski I’m ready for anything.
What do you ski on "at play"?
M: My Dictator 3.0s are my total one ski quiver. Playtime for me consists of shredding and thrashing the mountain, so I like a bold ski that can handle the charge.
What kind of skiing do you do in your free time?
M: Steep, deep, fast and rad. My skis are my freedom and my tools for exploring. I often joke that I feel more comfortable on skis than just my own two feet. I love natural hits and pumping my adrenaline off-piste. I am not usually one to say no to a new line or run. I definitely stay true to my racer roots, speed is in my blood. Whether it’s a blower pow day and the trees are the place to be, or just a bluebird groomer day, you can find me zipping all over the mountain.
What do you do for work during the off-season?
M: Working with kids is truly my passion, so when I am not leading the pack of little people on the snow, I work for a nanny company that offers service to families visiting town. This includes anything from childcare supervision to adventures like zip lining!
Lastly, what summer sports are you passionate about?
M: Mountain biking has become my latest obsession. I think most skiers will agree that a lot of skiing fundamentals translate over to the two-wheel sport. You angle your hips and body into the turns and read the terrain similarly. It also satisfies my adrenaline itch!
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