Chase Ambler first went skiing on an elementary school field trip to Wolf Laurel in 1971. Chase started teaching at French Swiss Ski College in 1988 working as an instructor for eight years. In 2010 he returned to help coach the junior race team and work with the Special Olympic athletes. Both of his children have grown up skiing, racing, and teaching at Appalachian Ski Mtn. One of Chase’s early opportunities to coach was for the US National Whitewater Team at the Junior World Championships in Spital, Austria in 1986. Chase is a level 200 certified coach through USSA. He’s worked as a river guide and kayaking instructor throughout North America.
He’s worked as a field instructor for NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School leading month-long wilderness trips backpacking, kayaking and rafting. Today outside of coaching the junior race team Chase works as a general contractor for Headwaters Enterprises since 1994.
“My coaching goal for every season is to develop the kids on our team into lifelong skiers who have a passion for learning and improving.”
Kate Ambler started skiing at Appalachian as a two-year-old. She has grown up at the mountain, spending all her free time during the winter skiing. Kate started racing in the HCJRS on Appalachian’s team as a five-year-old. Since 2017, she’s worked for French Swiss as a ski instructor. Kate is certified through PSIA as a Level 1 Instructor. Kate is a Senior at Watauga High School. Her summer plans include working as a camp counselor at Camp Merrie Woode where she’s been a camper for ten summers.
Ripley Amell grew up skiing in Canada. He has a long racing history including time on the Canadian national team racing throughout North America and Europe. Ripley is a Level 3 Instructor with PSIA. Ripley joined the coaching staff for the junior race team at Appalachian in 2019. Ripley is the General manager and the Director of Tennis at Yonahlossee.
“Good coaching changes games… great coaching changes lives.”
Robert Baker grew up skiing at Appalachian Ski Mountain. He was on the slopes at age 5 and whenever school was cancelled due to the weather, he would beg his parents to take him to the ski slopes. He was introduced to ski racing when the gates were made of bamboo. He raced recreationally during his teen years and through college. He brags about having the most DQ’s. He first started teaching skiing with the French Swiss Ski College in 1987 and continued until the early nineties while he was in college. When he moved his family from Mississippi back to North Carolina in 2010 he was intrigued with the opportunity to come back to the French Swiss Ski College. “Skiing has always been part of my life. When I came back to the French-Swiss Ski College in 2010, I thought I might continue for a couple of years. However, the thrill of skiing, being part of a resort experience and providing great customer experiences came back to me. The thought of the life lessons I had learned and how they shaped my life and the potential for my children to experience the same, made me realize that Appalachian Ski Mountain and the French Swiss Ski College presented an opportunity for me to pass along important life lessons to my children. I consider the opportunity to be part of this resort a privilege. Being there provides a great amount of stress relief to me today and it gives me the unique opportunity to visit and spend time with my sons and friends.”
Rich Campbell started teaching skiing at Hawksnest in 1988. Rich has been coaching the junior race team at Appalachian since 2011. He’s certified as a level 200 coach through USSA. Rich works as the Director of the Office of Outdoor Programs at ASU. Through his work he leads outdoor adventures all over the world. In addition to alpine skiing Rich is an accomplished telemark skier, enjoys back country skiing, mountain biking, and running. His son Ethan grew up skiing at Appalachian, races on our team, and has joined the French Swiss staff as a Ski Wee instructor.
Jason Carter grew up skiing in the High Country. He learned to ski at Mill Ridge. He raced for the Sugar Mountain race team before moving his season pass to Appalachian in middle school. During high school he worked as a ski instructor at Beech Mountain. When he left instruction, Jason stayed in the industry working at Farmer’s Ski Shop weekends and summers. As a college student at NC State, he again worked in the industry at REI. Jason and his wife, Tara have traveled the United States and Canada skiing. His favorite resort is Jackson Hole. Both of their daughters, Maia and Lila ski on the Appalachian Ski Mtn JR Race Team. Jason is an engineer working as a Patent Examiner for the US Patent and Trademark Office.
“I love skiing, instructing, and coaching; but what I love most of all is how the sport brings families and communities together”
Jason Coggins has been teaching skiing at Appalachian since 1995. His work includes instructing, coaching, staff training, and being a staff coordinator for French Swiss. Jason’s day job is being a home inspector. Both of his kids have participated on the race team. His daughter now works as a ski instructor for the French Swiss Ski College teaching Ski Wee and his son is on his second year of being on the race team.
Lana Chandrasuwan Cole has been skiing since 1998 and teaching skiing since 1999. Throughout all of her teaching career she has been coaching the junior race team at Appalachian and working with the Special Olympic athletes racing program. For the last ten years Lana has worked with the advanced skiers on the junior race team. For her day job Lana works for the probation office for the State of North Carolina supervising sex offenders. Her law enforcement duties include working on search teams and transporting fugitives back to North Carolina. Lana is stepmom to Stella Cole, mother to Fin and Hayden Cole.
Lachlann Currie grew up at Beech Mountain on their junior race team. She was a regular participant in the High Country Junior Race Series. She joined the coaching staff at Appalachian in 2019
Alana Dagenhart learned to ski at App Ski Mtn when she was 12 and started working for French-Swiss Ski College as a senior in high school. When she is not on the snow, she teaches English at Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte. Her goal this season is to go over the top jump in Appal Jam—and land it
Jennifer Gargrave joined the coaching staff in 2019. She comes to the team as a seasoned children’s specialist from the ski instructor ranks of the French Swiss Ski College. Both of her children have joined the team this year as well
Monte Long has been skiing since 1982 and a coach for eleven of those years. Monte raced for Lees McRae during his time in college. He’s certified through USSA as a Level 100 Coach, Competition Official, and Referee. All three of Monte’s children race on the Appalachian Jr Race Team. He makes his home in Lewisville where he is an insurance broker, owns Long Insurance, and works as a sales rep for Gordini gloves and goggles. Monte’s main goal is to see the young athletes improve their skills and become accomplished skiers
Thomas Putnam started skiing at age 10 in North Carolina. As a 13-year-old he spent the summer at Mount Hood race camp, and the winter racing USSA. At 14 he competed in the Jr. Olympic Qualifier. In 1984-1988 he raced pro/am and raced for ASU. Thomas started his coaching and teaching career at the French Swiss Ski College in 1979. As a thirteen-year-old he became a certified instructor through French Swiss and secured a job teaching skiing at Mill Ridge. In 1984, he returned to Appalachian for four years as an instructor and assistant race director. Thomas again returned to French Swiss in 2007 to instruct, coach, and assist with the training and racing for the Special Olympians. Thomas holds a Level 1 certification through PSIA. He maintains his credentials, and continues his education through PSIA clinics in the Easter Division and Intermountain Division (ID, MO, UT, WY). As Managing Director of Operations FedEx Freight, Thomas lives in Fort Mill, SC, commuting to the mountain for the weekends to coach
John Speckmann was born and raised in Aspen, Colorado and grew his love for skiing at the age of four. Previous to moving to Blowing Rock, he was a ski rep for 10 years for many clothing, accessory, and hard good lines representing Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico. John has been a realtor in the High Country for the past 23 years and is currently an associate broker at Jenkins, Realtors in Blowing Rock. He is also the Hard Goods manager at Alpine Ski Shop, Appalachian Ski Mtn. Both of his children began ski racing at four years old on Appalachian’s Jr Race Team and his daughter has been racing USSA for the past 5 years. He is a Level 100 race coach through USSA and taught through FSSC for 3 years after moving here in 1997. In his free time, he enjoys traveling and skiing with his family, gardening, hiking, and many other outdoor activities. He has a lifetime of being a passionate advocate for skiing!
“Skiing for me is a passion which I enjoy passing on to young skiers and watching them grow with it!”
Lana Steen grew up skiing in the mountains of the High Country. She’s a certified PSIA ski instructor having taught thousands of lessons over her career. Her teaching began at Beech Mountain instructing in the Ski Wee program for 4 years. She continued her teaching path at Sugar Mountain for the next 25 years where she taught all ability levels and all ages. While at Sugar, Lana participated in the Sugar Mtn. Adult Race League. Before coming to Appalachian to help coach the Jr Race Team Lana taught in Colorado at Beaver Creek for two years. Lana is the owner of Lana’s Fitness. She is a certified and licensed Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor. Lana’s son, Knox has joined the App Ski Mtn Snowboard Team this year, and loves it. In her free time, she enjoys: skiing, hiking, biking (road and mtn.) camping, tennis, working out, church activities, time with her son, having nerf wars and relaxing.
“This is my 2nd season coaching App Ski Mtn. race team! I love teaching/coaching and helping these kids become the best of themselves, believing in themselves first! Can’t wait to see them chase their dreams!!“
Michael Trew is the consummate skier. He’s an expert alpine, back country, cross country, and telemark skier. Mike has been a ski instructor for decades. He has instructed at Beech Mountain, Sugar Mountain, Hawksnest, and Appalachian Ski Mtn. As a member of PSIA for 32 years Mike is certified as Level 1 in Telemark Skiing and Level 2 in Alpine Skiing. Outside of skiing Mike is a Professional Engineer at Municipal Engineering in Boone. In his free time during the off season and on warm winter days after race team practice Mike can be found rock climbing. Mike is a fixture in the high country climbing community. He serves on the board of the Carolina Climbers Coalition working to preserve the environment, ensure access, and shepherd the next generation.
“I love teaching/coaching and seeing the excitement generated when students learn, progress, and gain self-confidence. I try to make ski improvement fun and interesting.“
Chad Leder grew up skiing in the High Country beginning around the age of 12. His love for the sport became evident the first time he learned to ski at Hound Ears Ski Resort in Shulls Mill, North Carolina. At the age of 17, he pursued a part-time employment opportunity at Appalachian Ski Mountain within the lodge kitchen. After a year of seeing the fun, excitement, and educational opportunity outside, he made a push to become a French-Swiss Ski College instructor in 1991. Over the next ten seasons, he became a part of the French-Swiss staff, providing ski instruction to the High Country’s winter guests. After graduating from Appalachian State University in 2001, Chad moved away from the mountains of North Carolina until returning home in 2011. Upon his return, he has been a consistent part-time and race team instructor at Appalachian Ski Mountain. Chad is also the Associate Director of Alumni Affairs at Appalachian State University but uses ski instruction as the outlet for public service and a healthy lifestyle. His son Vaughn is on the Appalachian Ski Mtn JR Race Team, and daughter, Maya, and wife, Shelley, are avid skiers in the High Country.
Laura Niedosik learned to ski at Whitetail Ski Resort in Mercersburg, PA. She joined their race team along with her two brothers at age eight and raced every season until she left the mountains temporarily to attend Elon University. She has been fortunate to train and ski all over the US. Laura joined the coaching staff at Appalachian in 2020. Her daughter Allie joined the race team in 2019. Laura owns and manages Niedosik Law, PLLC in Jefferson.