'Your focus would likely be drawn to the success and fun his guests are having rather than how he is enabling that,' said Keith Carpenter, a teacher at Mission Ridge.
Age is truly just a number if you look at Otto Ross. He is a 97-year-old ski teacher at the Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort in Wenatchee, Washington. Behind the wisdom on his face, there are also ski goggles, neck buffs and a thick jacket. “Your focus would likely be drawn to the success and fun his guests are having rather than how he is enabling that,” said Keith Carpenter, another teacher at Mission Ridge who considers Ross a mentor. It is Ross' 72nd year working as a ski instructor. He teaches beginner skiers of all ages, reports King 5.
🎉 Raise your poles in honor of ski instructor Otto Ross, who on January 27, 2023, celebrated his 97th birthday on the slopes of Mission Ridge in Washington.— PSIA-AASI (@TheSnowPros) March 20, 2023
Otto has instructed skiing in the Northwest for 70+ years!!#SnowPros https://t.co/c8iZ6SdauA
Born on January 27, 1926, Ross was brought up in Douglas County, a small town on the Columbia River, not very far from the north of Wenatchee. "My dad bought me wooden skis when I was about 8, probably from the Montgomery Ward Catalog,” Ross revealed.
“He's just so special, you see him, you smile, he smiles back and it's gonna be a good day," Jodi Taggert, Mission Ridge's director of skier services, said of Ross. "He's incredible."
The magic carpet at Mission that takes beginners up the hill is named after Ross himself — The Ottobahn. Pat West Turner became one of his students in the 60s after she lost one of her legs in an accident. "When I was 17 and lost my leg, he asked me if I wanted to ski again," she shared.
Pat agreed. With Otto's help, Pat became a medal-winning amputee ski racer. She even wrote a book about it all, called "Skiing Uphill: A Story of Strength and Perseverance." But Pat also remembers, "He's still kinda cute, but back then he was really good-looking,” she laughed. “And to be 97 years old and still instructing is a testament to who he is. He loves the sport and skiing.”
A fixture of the Mission Ridge resort in Central Washington, Otto Ross reflects on 72 years of mentoring and teaching skiers the ropes.— Margot Naan (@NaanMargot) March 29, 2023
Beloved ski instructor rings in 97th birthday on Wenatchee’s slopes pic.twitter.com/9n6J5Cf7Qa
Ross' daughters revealed the secret to his fitness and health. “He lives for the mountain, he's one of the kindest, most humble men you've ever met,” said daughter Julie O’Leary. "He loves to meet people, it's really the secret of staying young and active — it's being engaged, active, and interested in other people," Julie's sister, Wendy Wilson, added.
"I just always have loved the outdoors and appreciate what mother nature has done for us,” said Otto after teaching a couple of adults some beginner lessons and sending them off on their own. “Look here at the conditions, look at the people, how they're smiling, that's what’s so great about teaching skiing.”
He recently also helped another woman who was recovering from an injury. “She had not signed up for a lesson, but Otto saw her moving tentatively her first day back... [and] jumped in and just helped her get comfortable and reacquainted with moving on skis again,” said Mark Music, Mission Ridge ski school director and member of the Professional Ski Instructors of America divisional education staff. “It made her day, and his as well.”
Otto is truly winning our hearts by spreading happiness and strength!