SNOW TRAILS INSTRUCTOR HAS BEEN SKIING FOR ABOUT 80 YEARS NOW
Snow Trails ski instructor Paul Goszyk offers tips to Betsy Mitchell, left, and Kristin Hosey. The 87-year-old Worthington resident has been teaching at the resort since the 1960s and still makes the trek to Mansfield two days a week to share his passion for the sport.
As a boy in the 1920s, Paul Goszyk skied the snow-blanketed mountains that surrounded his home in Ustron, Poland.
His parents had six children and couldn't afford to buy him skis, so his father crafted a pair from wooden boards and made poles using two sticks.
Goszyk and his friends all used homemade gear to hike nearby peaks, race down forest trails and jump off a ramp built for their town's youth ski club.
That was before 1939, when Germany invaded Poland -- before Goszyk fought for his country during World War II, and before he was captured and enslaved for five years by the Germans.
Through it all, his love for skiing endured.
"There's something about the mountains," said Goszyk, now 87. "It brings back your childhood."
Goszyk shares his lifelong passion by teaching ski lessons at Snow Trails near Mansfield. It's an hour drive from his home in Worthington to the ski resort, where he works every Thursday and Friday during the winter. Goszyk is the oldest of 120 instructors, but to watch him on the slopes you'd never know it.
"He makes it look so graceful and soft," said Pam Spires, the resort's ski school director.
Goszyk, rated a top-level instructor by the Professional Ski Instructors of America, still trains to sharpen his skills and keep his teaching current, Spires said.
Skiers young and old enjoy him. Goszyk wants to see his students succeed so badly that he sometimes works past the time scheduled for lessons, Spires said.
Avid skier Joe Hofmeister of Powell calls Goszyk an expert instructor. Hofmeister, his wife and their children all have taken lessons from him.
"He's very patient," Hofmeister said. "He preaches the joy of skiing. Where most people ski to get down the hill, he wants you to kind of take in the sights while you're skiing."
Goszyk's first teaching experience came after World War II while staying at a camp for displaced refugees in Germany. He was away on a one-week pass when he met a group of ski troops with the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division.
He recalls asking the white-uniformed soldiers if he could borrow some of their equipment. They led him to their quarters and lent him some boots and skis.
It wasn't long before they asked for his help honing their skills.
Goszyk told them to watch him and mimic his movements -- advice he still gives his students.
After immigrating to the U.S. in 1951 with the help of a sponsor from Cleveland, Goszyk settled in Tiffin and went to work for the National Carbon Co. He later became a tool-and-die maker at the Ford plant in Sandusky.
In 1963, he began spending weekends and vacations as a part-time instructor at Snow Trails. The change of scenery was a refreshing break from the Ford factory, he said.
After he retired from Ford in 1987, he worked full time at Snow Trails.
Maneuvering the resort's hills for hours in the cold is physically intense, but the challenge invigorates Goszyk, even after knee-replacement and back surgeries. In recent years, he's scaled back teaching to two days a week.
"Involved in teaching, you really learn people," Goszyk said. "And the biggest point in teaching skiing is you can give of yourself and see the progress people make." Goszyk's wife, Cherry, said the sport keeps her husband young.
"I don't know how many times Cherry has said, 'You ought to quit now. That's enough,' " he said, laughing.
"I thought he was going to quit at 80. Ha!" she said.
"He's very patient. He preaches the joy of skiing. Where most people ski to get down the hill, he wants you to kind of take in the sights while you're skiing."
one of Goszyk's students
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