Get to Know Kevin Bentley: Snowboard Instructor and former NFL Player
Kevin Bentley is from Los Angeles, California and is a snowboard instructor for Lionshead Adult Snowboard School.
Q: How long have you been an instructor for?
A: I’ve been instructing since 2009, so this is my sixth year. People ask me, why do you teach? Initially it was for me to become a better rider and teacher. Anything I love and am passionate about I’ll throw myself in to. It’s not about the money; it’s about the connection and helping people have a love and passion for the sport like I do. I got all my certs with less than 300 days on snow. That’s how passionate I was. I never free ride, there’s always some focus within it. I’m either trying to hone in on a teaching technique or a drill I may try later in a lesson.
Q: What did you do before you were a ski instructor?
A: I played in the NFL for 10 years as a linebacker for Cleveland, Seattle, and Houston.
Q: What do you do in the summer?
A: I have been in grad school the last few years, earning my MBA from Rice University. So last winter I had to teach part-time. Last summer I interned at Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey for their Brand Marketing Department.
Q: Do you speak any other languages?
A: A little Spanish.
Q: Why did you choose Vail as opposed to somewhere else?
A: I learned how to snowboard here in 2005 right on Chair 15. I’m partial to Vail because this is my home mountain. I’ve visited many other mountains but have always come back to Vail. I’ve always wanted to make my roots here.
Q: What is the most inspiring moment you’ve had while teaching?
A: When you dig deep and go through your tool belt to figure how to connect with the guests and they finally get it; that’s the best feeling in the world, not only for them but for you too. I recently taught a girl who was struggling to get it, and I was running out of ideas, but then we played some cat and mouse game and all of the sudden it just clicked! So you have to be creative sometimes.
Q: What is the hardest part of teaching?
A: Having lots of patience and understanding that your students come from a different background, and that this is a vacation for them. How do you have fun while at the same time relaying the material? The hardest part can be having the patience to make sure they get it not on their first try but on their fifth or sixth tries.
Q: What is the best part of teaching?
A: For me, it’s being able to converse and interact with such interesting people from different countries who speak all sorts of languages. There is such diversity in people, and yet one thing brings us together; and that’s our love for the snow.
Q: What is the most interesting place a student has been from?
A: I’ve had people from South Africa before which is a country I’ve always wanted to visit, so it was pretty neat to hear a local’s thoughts and ideas on going there.
Q: What is your most memorable lesson or day?
A: I recently taught these three boys from Dallas—two were age 12 and one was 13. The first three days we were on the bunny hill, and nothing was clicking. The fourth day we went from level one to level five in two hours. All of the sudden they got it, and their parents were hugging me at the end of the day. What an awesome feeling to see those three boys get it and love it too!
Q: What is one tip you would give to all riders?
A: My advice would be to be patient. You see a lot of riders trying to force the movements. You have a lot more time than you actually realize. Even when you are zipper-lining bumps you can be more patient than you think. Also, understanding the TID: timing, intensity, and duration. I’ve started to play with that a lot, even in my beginning lessons.
Q: Describe your perfect day at Vail.
A: It snowed for two weeks straight, it’s a bluebird day, and it’s the middle of the week. Then my buddy and I can rip tree lines and drop cliffs all day.
Q: What is your favorite run?
A: I have two. Hairbag Alley and Prima, Pronto, Highline, in that order. I’ll go up Gondi One, up Chair Four, down Prima and Pronto to ride up Chair 10, down Highline, and back down to Gondi One. And then I’ll do it all over again riding switch.
Q: What is one insight you can provide to how Vail has changed during your time here?
A: They’ve beefed up the safety on the mountain with more yellow jackets and really having people adhere to them. They are doing a much better job in terms of safety.
Q: What is your favorite product to teach?
A: A P6. I love the one-on-one interaction that most of the P6’s provide. It’s awesome to have that connection with people and get the time to know someone. A lot of my guests are here for three to four days and you really get to know someone over that time period.
Other profiles in this series:
Get to Know John Donovan: Vail Resident, Business Owner and Ski Instructor Since 1963
Get to Know Ben Donnelly: An Adaptive Snowsports Instructor
Get to Know Ken Harper: A Kids Ski Instructor of 37 Years
Get to Know Gabe Del Rossi: Multi-Lingual Ski Instructor, University Professor, and Bike Tour Guide
Get to Know Laura Landre: Ski Instructor and Former Member of the US Ski Team