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Ski instructors from Argentina feel at home on Sunlight slopes

Lynn Burton photo.Lucas Rodriguez Gallo, left, and Francisco de la Serna, right, are up from Argentina to teach skiing at Sunlight Mountain Resort. One thing they like about their stay in the U.S. is getting to know the friendly folks of Glenwood Springs.
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Talk about a couple of 23-year-old Sunlight Mountain Resort ski instructors enjoying a change in scenery.

Francisco de la Serna and Lucas Rodriguez Gallo hail from Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s summer “down there” as they put it, and while the swimmers hit the surf in their hometown, in Glenwood Springs folks hit the slopes.

Buenos Aires is a 24-hour-a-day city of several million, while Glenwood Springs is a sometimes sleepy 7,000.



In Argentina, ski areas are less developed, and skiers come mostly from that country and surrounding countries. “Here, the market is the whole world,” Gallo said.

Down there, the pace is fast. Here, “you can take your time and enjoy the towns … you can figure out where your life is going,” Gallo said.



De la Serna interjected, “People are really friendly here. It’s like `Hey bro. How are you?'”

De la Serna and Gallo are in the country as part of Work Experience USA, a cultural exchange program that allows people, often college students, to visit other countries and work for a limited time. This is Gallo’s third year, and de la Serna’s first. They’ve been friends since they were 6.

“We went to high school together, and still hang out,” Gallo said.

Both young men have taken all their college courses, but must pass final tests before earning their degrees. Gallo majored in business, while de la Serna majored in psychology.

Gallo and de la Serna pointed to several differences between skiing in America and Argentina. Ski lessons are more standardized in the United States than in Argentina.

“There is no PSA (Professional Ski Association) there that sets parameters,” de la Serna explained.

The attitude to ski instructors is also different.

“Here, you treat them (students) as clients … guests. You have fun,” Gallo said. “Our role is important to create that environment to let them be comfortable and have fun.”

On their days off, Gallo and de la Serna have skied at several other resorts around the state, including Steamboat Springs, Copper Mountain, A-Basin and all four Aspen mountains.

“It’s great,” de la Serna said. “You’ve got everything all together.”

Referring to Aspen’s amenities, de la Serna said, “It’s huge, with the latest lifts. It’s put together to make you happy.”

Argentina’s ski industry is smaller.

“You can’t afford to have an Aspen down there,” he said.

To keep friends and family up to date on their travels, de la Serna and Gallo have their own website at http://ar.geocities.com/franylucky.

If you can read Spanish, you can see what they’ve been doing. Pictures show the pair in a brewpub, on the Sunlight slopes, and at the home of Sunlight education center director Jon Turkel, where they are rooming.

Gallo and de la Serna are outgoing, friendly and at ease with the Americans they greet on a daily basis. At their age, they’re still undecided about their futures.

De la Serna, the one with the psychology degree, might return to Argentina after the ski season and get a job at a hospital. As for next ski season, “I don’t know. At first I thought this is a one-time experience. Now I’m not so sure. I might be back next year.”

Gallo, who has worked for a French company and Philip Morris International in his home country, isn’t sure what he’ll be doing this time next year, but settling down might be 10 years down the road.

“This is better for my life right now … Life is about having fun. When you stop having fun you start questioning yourself a little bit,” he said.

The friendships that Gallo has made here are important to him. “Friends are one thing I’ll take away from this,” Gallo said.


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