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Trailblazing Teacher Erin Holt Is Making Sure Skiing Isn’t Just for the Rich and Famous

One teacher's passion brings the thrill of the slopes to every student.

Skiing is a thrilling sport, offering an adrenaline rush as you whip down hills. 

This exhilarating experience is a lifeline for many, particularly during the long, dark winter days, providing a sense of excitement and adventure.

Despite its broad appeal, skiing is not accessible to everyone. 

Equipment, ski passes, and lessons cost a lot, often amounting to thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, that makes it a sport that’s financially out of reach for those without significant disposable income for such hobbies.

And if you had parents with limited income, chances are you never got to experience the light-speed thrill of downhill skiing as a kid. 

But that’s changing. 

More and more programs are available that share used equipment and hook kids and adults up with discount prices to get out on a hill.

One Innisfail middle-school teacher, who was late to the sport herself, is now doing all she can so her students get exposed to skiing early.

A Late Bloomer

Erin Holt got into skiing for the first time as a 35-year-old.

For her, it was love at first fall. Once she got back up, she couldn’t quit.

“It just gives me this time in my life where my brain is turned off, and I’m just in sync with what my body is doing and where I am, and it just gives you this complete feeling of freedom that I don’t really get anywhere else,” she told Red Deer News Now.

She threw her all into the sport, skiing as often as possible.

By 2022, Holt was hitting new heights and was thrilled when she won tickets to The Freeride World Tour (FWT), an international freeride competition.

“Freeride” refers to skiing technical big mountain faces with large drops, couloirs, and chutes, so obviously, Holt’s practice gave her some serious skills.

While there, she got on good terms with many influential players in the ski world, including Jess Hotter, FWT World Champion.

“I never in a million years thought I’d be skiing with people who are world champions and Olympians and have ski movies, and they’re giving me their time and their energy to help me be a better skier, and that just lit a fire in me; how can I pay this back? How can I give this to the people around me,” she said.

Erin Holt hitting the slopes | @mrsholtsends | Instagram

Sharing the Passion

Holt was ecstatic after the experience and decided it was time to bring her passion to her students.

It began with Holt inviting Hotter to speak with her class. Her students loved hearing from the world champion, which only reinforced Holt’s efforts more.

The Grade 5 Class at iSkiHill | @mrsholtsends | Instagram

Now, Holt is creating a ski program that gets her entire school riding hills at a price parents can actually afford.

Through volunteering for years as a ski instructor with her husband at iSkiHill in Innisfail, she managed to “badger” the Board of Directors President Brent Jackson into allowing her to run a student program.

Then, she joined the Board herself and invested hundreds of hours of her time working to get students less expensive access to the hill.

In January 2023, Holt brought roughly 80 Grade 5 students to the ski hill as their two-hour Physical Education class once a week for three weeks.

She managed to get the cost per student down to $50 per student for equipment rentals, lift tickets and transportation! 

Peak Performance, a ski clothing company,  donated ski socks, hats, hoodies, and other gear, and the combined efforts that opened the world of skiing to all her students.

Daytrips to Red Deer’s Canyon Ski Resort and Nakiska in Kananaskis allowed her students to experience more advanced runs.

But her students have stayed loyal to the local hill. 

Erin Holt is a champion of skiing for everyone! | @mrsholtsends | Instagram

“The most beautiful part of it was when I would go to work at the ski hill on Wednesday nights, we could stand at the top of that tow rope, and it was like every second kid that was coming up was a kid from the Grade 5 ski program,” said Holt.

Now in its second year, the program has already grown, and the rest of the school has gotten to ride at the iSkiHill through her program.

Big names in the ski world have taken notice.

Holt’s efforts not only opened doors for her students but garnered national recognition in Forecast Ski Magazine, highlighting her commitment to making skiing an inclusive experience for all.

She’s changing a narrative locally, carving a path for young enthusiasts who wouldn’t otherwise get the chance.

We hope that her mission only continues to accelerate and spread elsewhere.

If there’s anything we know about the Rockies, it’s that the mountains should be for everyone!

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