Meet Our ARISE & Ski Staff


Christopher Weiss

Technical Director and Co-Founder
Level 3 PSIA Alpine / Level 2 Adaptive Certification
Christopher manages the training and educational operations of the adaptive winter sports program. With Austrian roots, 30 years experience as a ski instructor and nearly 15 years in adaptive sports, Christopher has lived the life of a skiing fanatic and is a strong advocate for access.

“Skiing, and winter sports in general, are activities that all people can do for life. I grew up on skis; I skied with my parents all over the US and in other countries. Skiing has allowed me opportunities to challenge myself, meet people from diverse walks of life and more than anything else, skiing gets me out into the mountains – it is invigorating, therapeutic and essential to my existence.” -Christopher Weiss

Richelle Maki

Program Coordinator
Level 1 PSIA Alpine / Level 1 Adaptive Certification

Richelle works with ARISE as a Respite Coordinator while also serving as the core administrative presence for the ARISE & Ski adaptive winter sports program.  As a lover of the wilderness, she grew up paddling canoes and spends much of her free time in the summer in her kayak.  She is an experienced horseback rider and a lover of books.   Richelle started skiing when she was 27 and became an instructor in 2002. 

“Whether I’m sliding down a mountain of snow or playing on a wave in some river I love the sensation I get when I’m out interacting with the power of our environment.  My hope with the ARISE & Ski program is that others, regardless of their ability or disability, get the same opportunity to feel this kind of excitement.”  -Richelle Maki

Eric Kuersteiner

Ski School Supervisor
Level 1 PSIA Adaptive Certification

Captain of his high school ski racing team in Turin, New York, Eric learned to ski at Snow Ridge Ski Area where his father Rudi was the Director of Ski School and his mother was a ski instructor as well. You could say that he grew up on skis, since he learned to ski at the tender age of 16 months old.  His Dad, who competed in the Swiss Junior Nationals before coming to this country, used to say; “Skiing is easy, anyone can do it.”  Eric brings that same philosophy to the ARISE & Ski Program. He believes that anyone, no matter what their ability, can have the exhilaration of sliding down a snow covered mountain under their own sense of control.  Because after all skiing is meant to be fun!

Eric was recruited by Arise & Ski in 1997. He leads training clinics and meets with the core group of PSIA Certified Instructors  year-round, to assist in devising ways of improving the program each year. He is inspired by his students to find innovative ways to improve their skiing abilities.

“As an instructor with Arise & Ski at Toggenburg for over a decade, I can look back with excitement at the difference our program and our volunteers have made in the lives of people with disabilities in Central New York. There’s no greater reward in the world than seeing a smile as one of our students accomplishes a new skiing task. To most, winter was a time of being huddled up inside waiting for spring to come.  Now, with Arise & Ski, those first snow flurries beckon to the slopes at Toggenburg, where riding the chairlift to the top of the mountain and sliding down a slippery slope in the crisp winter air, becomes as natural as breathing for people of all abilities.” -Eric Kuersteiner


Jeremy Holden

Ski School Supervisor
Level 1 PSIA Adaptive Mono/Bi Ski Certification

Jeremy Holden has been skiing for over 20 years and has been with ARISE & Ski for 12 years. As soon as there is snow on the mountain he may be seen teaching a student to make their first tracks in the learning center or on the chair lift teaching a clinic for ARISE & Ski volunteers. And in the off season he may be spotted talking shop with his comrades over a plate of chicken wings. It’s plain to see that his favorite aspect of skiing is the opportunity to teach others the joys of winter sports.

“One of my favorite parts of adaptive skiing is how it levels the playing field by giving people of all abilities access to the same lifts, the same slopes and the same mountains. It really is great to see a dad, able to be on the mountain with his kids rather than waiting at home or in the lodge, or to see a girl skiing down with her whole family – and kicking their butts.  “When I learned to ski it was a family sport and I love that with the work that ARISE & Ski is doing it is opening the door for so many more families to be able to enjoy this great winter sport.” – Jeremy Holden


Caitlin Friebel

Ski School Trainer
Level 1 PSIA Certification in Blind/Developmental Disabilities Instruction

Caitlin learned to ski with the Arise & Ski Program as a volunteer accompanying lesson’s, gaining experience both in her own personal skiing as well as teaching others. Incorporating those lessons learned over many years she is now qualified to coach one on one lessons as well as serving as an assistant to senior instructors, particularly on the beginner hill.

“Never in a million years did I think I would have a chance like the one this program has given me. It has been such a rewarding experience participating in something that touches so many people. Arise and Ski has given me the chance to do something I love, and in doing so has impacted my life forever.” -Caitlin Gorman


Tyson Gorman

Ski School Trainer
Level 1 PSIA Certification in Mono/Bi-Ski Instruction

Tyson has participated with the Arise & Ski Program for ten years, where needed in many different ways. When he first started volunteering Tyson had no experience on skis, but with training from other volunteers and more time spent on the hill, Tyson now leads bi ski instruction sessions with Arise participants as well as new volunteers.

” I thought it was a cool opportunity to do something I had never done before. Although I now realize that Arise & Ski offers an awesome chance to our participants to experience something most would not have thought possible. Arise & Ski is a program that has impacted my life, but even more so, the lives of so many more that otherwise might not have had a chance to enjoy a great opportunity like this!” – Tyson Gorman