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Ski College founder, tennis coach

Passing Date: 
Monday, October 6, 2014

Photo courtesy Gale Godwin

Renowned tennis coach Vic Braden, whose “laugh and win” approach to teaching serves and strokes proved to be equally innovative and effective for the ski schools of Aspen and Vail, died October 6, 2014 of congestive heart failure in Trabuco Canyon, California. He was 85.

Often referred to as the top tennis coach in the world, Braden had spent 25 years working with both pros (such as Tracy Austin) and average players via his camps, videos, books and PBS-televised instructional series before he added the sport of skiing to his repertoire. Armed with his clinical psychology license, sports research findings and electronic/video wizardry, he collected 300 “rotten skiers/guinea pigs” in 1986 to study while setting up the Vic Braden Ski College at Buttermilk Mt., Aspen.

He renamed his instructors “coaches” and pioneered the use of humor to lessen anxiety and fear within his skiers who were stuck on plateaus, looking for a breakthrough. He created a student-based environment along with a learner’s “bill of rights”; he introduced brain typing and awareness of learning styles; his coaches became better listeners. His Ski College reigned for eight years before Vail asked him to spend three years training all of its ski pros. 

 

He is survived by his wife, Melody, and children Kory Braden Hittleman, Kristen Paul, Troy Davis and Shaun Davis. —Robin Smith

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