CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- He's a rugged Renaissance man -- skier extraordinaire, carpenter, cane-maker, artist, photographer and actor, for starters.
A Pennsylvania native, son of a professional hockey executive, 61-year-old David Faunce grew up on skates and skis and migrated to West Virginia as a Davis & Elkins College student lured by the promise of a new ski area opening at Canaan Valley State Park.
They hired him as one of their first instructors. He was the first teacher south of the Mason-Dixon Line certified by the Professional Ski Instructors Association.
Now, at Timberline Resort, he's the on-snow supervisor for the Timberline Ski School. He loves introducing newcomers to the sport that fills him with joy.
The laid-back life enriched by multifaceted talents is tinged with heartbreak. In 2005, he lost his 32-year-old son to the same demon he battles daily.
"I was born in Johnstown, Pa. My father was in professional hockey with the Pittsburgh Hornets in the '50s and was instrumental in the formation of the Ice Capades, so I grew up in that environment.
"When I was 2, I started skating with the hockey players. When I was about 4, we moved back to Johnstown, and he became general manager of the Johnstown Jets in the Eastern Hockey League.
"When I was in the eighth grade, he took a job with the Rochester Americans team in Rochester, N.Y. That's where I was introduced to skiing. I grew up with old Army surplus skis. I fell in love with it. Hockey became secondary.
"I was on semi-private hockey teams and had a scholarship to the Rochester Institute of Technology. I didn't want to go to college where my parents lived. I heard about Davis & Elkins College and a new ski resort that was opening, Canaan Valley Resort.
"The skiing didn't start until my sophomore year in 1972. I went to Davis & Elkins until 1974 and got a degree in speech and drama.
"Growing up, I was a stutterer. I wanted to be a speech pathologist to help myself and other people. When I'm tired, I still have episodes, but I've pretty much conquered it. Between seventh and eighth grades, I went to Penn State for a summer speech clinic and that helped a lot.
"When I first got here, when you looked over the valley at night, there were maybe one or two light bulbs burning. Just a few farm homes and the state park, and that was about it.
"The original ski resorts that Bob Barton started with the Washington Ski Club were long gone. The state acquired all the land to open the state park.
"I started a ski club at D&E, and I came up here to work out a deal for the ski club. They asked if I wanted to be an instructor. I was one of the first instructors.
"Two years later, I ended up taking over the ski school. I was director from '73 to 1980 when I decided I wanted to go out west. So with my wife and son, we moved to Colorado, to Keystone and Arapahoe Basin. I was a ski instructor at the resort and a carpenter in the summer.
"Back then, you could afford to be a ski bum. Rent wasn't so high, and you could make a comfortable living. That's actually on my card -- David Faunce, Ski Bum, Endangered Species.
"We were out there four years. The skiing was great, but we missed our friends and family. I was tired of the ski business, so I went to the Pentagon for four years and removed asbestos for my uncle's company. I still came back up here and taught on weekends. In '87, I'd had enough of D.C., and we moved back.
"I took over the Canaan ski school until 1993 when Guest Services took over. I didn't enjoy working for a large corporation. Timberline had opened in '84 or '85, and I came over here.
"I'm on-snow supervisor for the Timberline Ski School. I handle all the on-snow activities, the lessons, making sure all the customers are out there with their instructors. I've been doing that about five years.
"When I first came back, I was a trainer for instructors. I was the first person certified by the PSIA [Professional Ski Instructors Association] south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Now I'm Level Three. I got that in '75, so I've been pretty influential in training most of the people around here. Skiing is my passion. I enjoy turning people on to my passion.