Ex-patroller and ski instructor returns to Utah to ski for the first time in 15 years
PARK CITY, Utah — Jenn Coleman quit skiing about ten years after doctors recommended due to lack of cartilage and many knee surgeries. It was a gut-wrenching change as a professional ski instructor and patroller for 20 years across the western U.S. The Colorado native built her life around skiing and planned to become a heli-ski guide. After over a decade without her favorite thrill, Coleman returned to Utah to ski for the first time.
“Deer Valley could not have been a better choice for my return to skiing,” she said. “It’s been an amazing snow year, and Deer Valley is world-renowned for its grooming and the fact that you can cover the entire mountain on green and blue slopes, which is so rare for other ski mountains. It has been absolutely perfect.”
At 36, she needed both knees replaced due to faulty genetics. Her body forced her to quit halfway through ski season at Whitefish Mountain Resort.
In her final throes of teaching, she could only do half-days and needed two to three days after for recovery.
Thankfully, years before, she attended Utah College of Massage Therapy. Her schooling led her to be a personal trainer, yoga instructor, and massage therapist, which she credits with helping her ski years longer than advised. During her time in Utah, she worked for Alta Ski Resort for many winters.
While working at Alta and going to school, Coleman spent a lot of her free time in Park City and at Deer Valley.
“I knew I had to move somewhere hot and sunny to get skiing out of my reality. I made it a point not to see snow all these years because it was just really, really painful.”
She scoured 5-star resort and hotel job listings for professional massage therapist positions, and she learned Ritz Carlton was opening a new spa resort in Tucson, Arizona.
Living by one of her mantras, ‘fake it til you make it,’ she moved to Tucson sight unseen and got a part-time massage therapist job. She acted as if she was the non-existent lead position; months later, they offered her the newly created full-time lead spot, including full benefits that would help replace her knees.
“When I quit skiing at 36, I couldn’t find a doctor that would replace me until I was 40. They typically don’t like to replace people until they’re in their 50s or 60s because of the longevity of the prosthetics. Doctors told me it would be exceptionally dangerous to ever go back to skiing again.”
Ever the ambitious type, Coleman didn’t accept that fate now that she had new knees. Each year after her surgery, she consulted different doctors and physical therapists for a solution. She searched for a type of knee brace that didn’t exist until it finally did.
“Last winter, my husband’s daughter was teaching at Mammoth Mountain and found a US Ski Team doctor there that our insurance handled,” said Coleman. “So I thought, maybe if I go to a doctor in a ski town, they would understand more. He did some research and discovered the DonJoy knee brace, which was exactly what I needed. ”
Her first runs in 15 years were, needless to say, an emotional mixed bag of overwhelming joy, trepidation, anxiety, and exhilaration.
“I feel like I have a hunk of my soul back,” she said.
Another mantra of hers, ‘short life, big world,’ directed her travels within the west as a ski bum, and it certainly rings true in her life today. With her business Coleman Concierge she’s traveled to Sri Lanka, Egypt, Norway, and many more.
Now, she can add more ski trips to the docket, including a future visit to Bulgaria.
Coleman Concierge led Coleman to a travel conference where she bonded with a Park City Chamber of Commerce representative over her love for Park City. They spoke about a summer travel campaign for Park City, but when the Park City Chamber learned she was ready to ski again, it jumped at the opportunity to host Coleman and support her return to the sport she loves.
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