Matthew Underhill, FIS Ski Coach, joined the Gros / Vista Bahn Ski Rental family years before he and Dominique made it official in the Summer of 2014. Join us in sharing his story with our family, you our customers, so you can soak in the love — and the amazing ski experience in his own words. What a guy we’re lucky to have!
What is your job today in the ski industry?
I am Head Men’s FIS Ski Coach at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. F.I.S stands for Federation of International Skiing and the governing body that over sees all World Cup, World Championships and Olympic Competition. To be a FIS athlete you must be over 15 and measured against the world’s elite alpine athletes. I manage a staff of 4 and have 7 athletes. I’m directly responsible for them on a day-to-day basis 365 days a year.
First Tracks: What is your earliest memory of skiing?
I grew up on the East Coast. The mountains I skied as a child were pretty small. When I was three-ish the lift operators became my babysitters! The lifties gave me candy which was plenty incentive to unload the chairlift and get back to the bottom as fast as possible. I skied all day until my parents finished work. I had a stellar childhood!
At what point did you know you wanted to make a career of it?
At age 16, I hadn’t been home in several months due to skiing worldwide as an FIS athlete. I realized how fortunate I was to have the opportunity to travel around the globe meeting independent, self motivated coaches and athletes from many different countries. The opportunity to race felt like something you couldn’t access any other way. My desire to expose others to this small unique world of competitive ski racing grew as did I.
What was your first paid job in the industry?
At 13 I began working at my local ski and bike shop over the summers to pay for ski racing. I continued working until I began coaching full time in Alaska in 2001.
Favorite skiing movie: “Aspen Extreme.” Watch the trailer.
Favorite ski: I coach on a powder ski, really it’s because no matter where in the world I’m working I’m always ready for those epic days!
Off the Snow:
I spend time traveling in our new pack-n-play (a sprinter van) and being outside with my family. After seven years of guiding fishing in Alaska, I take to fly fishing for a little relaxation and quiet time. Or you may find me dirt bike riding the remote parts of Colorado’s backcountry for the adrenaline fix. My favorite is enjoying the down time after a hectic winter, especially with our new little dude, Blaise Thanet Underhill.
Highlights: ex. FIS Men’s Ski Coach, career highlights: races, places, most favorite memory…
There are too many highlights in the places you go and the people you meet to be stuck on personal achievements. I’ve been coaching longer than I raced at this point. I hope to still be inspiring more and more youth to pursue greatness on and off the hill through these life-changing experiences.
How did you get introduced to the Gros / VBSR family?
Sacha messed up twice. The first time he asked me to help out his team at Arctic Man. That’s when Dominique and I first met. The second time, after a couple months riding in Mexico, he let me leave my BMW motorcycle at his parents ranch. On my way to pick the motorcycle up, I was hitchhiking to get there – and Sacha made Dominique pick me. That was the beginning of the end. We got married on the Wolcott family ranch in the summer of 2014.
What do you like most about coaching kids?
Exposing them to life changing, unique character building opportunities while encouraging independence and building self confidence.
What do you find most challenging, yet it keep you coming back?
Parents of athletes, because teaching children is easy and rewarding.
Who are your ski idols?
- Michael Von Gruenigen
- Kjetil Andre Aamodt
- Lasse Kjus
- Alberto Tomba
- … and lets not forget, Sacha Gros
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 20 years?
Spending less time showing the world to other peoples children and more with mine.