Donald Jerome “Jerry” Berg passed away on Monday, June 4th due to injuries sustained from a bicycle accident near Red Cliff, Colorado. “Bergie” as he was known to many in the ski instruction community was truly one of a kind and will be sorely missed.
Bergie was a genius. He knew how to bring out the best in people. He was passionate about helping people reach the next step in their journey and he was not afraid to tell them what they needed.
Berg had a long and well-known career in snowsports and ski instruction. He was a member of and examiner for PSIA-AASI’s (Professional Ski Instructors of America-American Association of Snowboard Instructors) Rocky Mountain (RM) Division. He also served as the Alpine Committee chair and as an Alpine Committee member for PSIA-RM. From 1988-1992, Berg was a member of the PSIA Alpine Demonstration Team (now the PSIA Alpine Team). Not only certified in the United States, Berg was also certified by France’s Ecole du Ski Francais.
Many people have a “Bergie” story. For example, he once helped a candidate training for the PSIA Alpine Team by making the individual wait 45 minutes at the top of a bump run before they made, “the best turns of their life”. He had the creativity and experience to make the training more realistic because one often has to wait for their turn and then perform his or her best in a tryout situation.
This is my “Bergie” story. I had heard so much about him and stories like the one above that I wanted to ski with him. I headed over to Vail to train with a group of high-end ski instructors that he was leading. That day we would be practicing tasks which can range from performing exercises and drills to specific turn sizes and turn shapes, as well as skiing certain types of snow conditions. I remember skiing one off-piste or variable terrain run and Bergie announced to the group that this run would be timed. This is why Bergie was a genius and an innovator. He knew that by timing the group, it would increase the level of competition among the group participants. Everyone wanted to have the fastest time, but how far were people willing to go in order to get there? In other words, when the time element was added, people would sometimes sacrifice technique and not complete the task to be the fastest one down the hill. He instilled in us that it is a fine line between speed, dynamics, technique, and execution of the task. For the rest of the day we continued to time every task we performed. To this day, I still time myself skiing down runs or while practicing a task. Every time I do, I think of Bergie.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, June 10 at 3 pm at the Eagle-Vail Pavilion located between Vail and Beaver Creek at 538 Eagle Road in Avon, Colorado. In addition, a fund has been established to support Jerry Berg’s family, and donations—to the Dina Berg Donation Account—can be made at any branch of US Bank. Or, donations may be sent to:
c/o US Bank
Attn: Clare Dowd
34353 Highway 6 Side C-101
Edwards, CO 81632
(For more information, call 970-926-6130 )
A Bergie’s Best Scholarship Fund (named after a website that he co-founded) is being set up in his name through the PSIA-RM Education Foundation. To learn more, contact the PSIA-RM office at 970-879-8335 , or send donations to PSIA-RM Education Foundation, P.O. Box 775143, Steamboat, CO 80487.
Bergie, you are truly a legend who will be missed! The next time you are out on the slopes, make some turns for Jerry because he would want you to “Ski Like That”!