By Laurel Dudley
Alex Davenport is easy to spot up on the mountain: just look for the guy in the pink helmet.
What was initially a dare from a friend over a decade ago—wear this pink helmet and I’ll give it to you for free—became an awesome icebreaker among the students to whom he gave ski lessons, much to Alex’s surprise. More importantly, the helmet evolved into something else. To those who know him, it became a visible emblem of the principle for which he stands: inclusion.
Alex joined OVAS in January as Program Director. He is the founder and former executive director of Northern Arizona Adaptive Sports Association, which he ran for 10 years. When he says the word skiing, he’s not just referring to the sport with two planks and fixed-heel bindings. To him, skiing includes standing up or sitting down on any contraption that allows you to slide on snow. When he talks about it, he lights up. Teaching skiing, whether to instructors or students, is “why I was put on this earth,” Alex says
His path into the ski industry was circuitous and may never have happened were it not for some friends who encouraged him to get a job at the nearby mountain, Snowbowl Ski Resort in Flagstaff, Arizona. Alex had just returned from four years in the U.S. Marine Corps and was enrolled in Northern Arizona University. He planned to study education and become a high school teacher. But that quickly changed.
Something about the combination of teaching and sliding on snow felt so right. But what filled him with even more joy and immediately redirected his life’s mission was what happened in 2011. He gave his first adaptive lesson. That same year, he founded a program that grew from 12 adaptive lessons per season to well over 700 over the next seven years. He also oversaw the program’s expansion into summertime activities like kayaking, biking and hiking.
Alex holds a degree in Disability Studies and is certified by the Professional Ski Instructors of America as a Rocky Mountain Trainer (which means he trains instructors). Although you probably won’t recognize him by his gear—he sit-skis, alpine skis and snowboards—you’ll likely recognize him by his helmet. And when you do, be sure to say hello.
“I see skiing through rose colored glasses. I think it can save the world.”