Johnny Egan Comes Full Circle

Johnny Egan Comes Full Circle

Published by Brion O'Connor

John Egan Ski Inspiration
Credit: Warren Miller's Future Retro

At 64, John Egan is a man in full.

His name is synonymous with big mountain skiing. He and brother Dan – the fabled Egan Bruthas – have appeared in dozens of ski films, including nine by the legendary Warren Miller (the famed cornice break segment at Grand Targhee in "Extreme Winter" is the most popular ski clip ever).

A 2016 inductee of the US Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, he has worked for decades in New England, and around the globe, sharing his love of the sport with thousands of fellow winter enthusiasts.

Asked how he'd like to be remembered, what he wants his legacy to be, and Egan has a simple but intriguing response: "Inclusive."

"Inclusive, and an ability to listen," he says. "I pride myself in being able to hear other people. Most people want to be heard, and I've had to listen to their words so I can understand their fears and break those down. Conversation has always been part of my method."

The answer reveals that skiing is much more than a sport, much more than a pastime for this Massachusetts native. It reveals the sense of skiing as a community, and the importance Egan puts on his ongoing work as an instructor, a tour guide, and a life coach. After almost six decades in the sport, he still relishes being a teacher.

John Egan Ski Inspiration
Credit: Hank De Vre

"I've heard people say, ‘I don't want the lower group. I don't want the women's group,'" says Egan. "Instructors who think they're too good to teach other people, or expert guides unwilling to take a beginner in their group and share that experience, really bum me out."

Countless runs on the slopes and backcountry exact a price, however, and Egan's left ankle required reconstruction in 2021. Still, surgery didn't translate to "down time" for Egan. Instead, it was another opportunity to employ his trademark perseverance, a trait all skiers can embrace.

"I've had injuries in my career, and I've had to learn how to rehab and come back from those, and not let them become a mental block," Egan says. "Every time you get knocked down, you've got to get back up."

Egan redirected his considerable energy into several construction projects and fulfilling sponsorship responsibilities, and spent last winter Nordic skiing to maintain his fitness. This winter, he'll again step into his Alpine bindings, reconnecting with his Vermont backcountry cohorts at Mad River Glen and Bolton Valley Resort with the DesLauriers family (the Egans were original North Face Extreme Team members, along with Rob, Eric and Adam DesLauriers).

"Life is life, and a run is a run. Not every turn and every run is perfect, and not every day in every life is perfect," he says. "It's all about that overall feeling of how you glean your joy and satisfaction out of life. What you put into it, you'll definitely get back."

Leadership John Egan Ski Tour
Credit: Hank De Vre

Egan's relentlessly positive approach reinforces his longtime affiliation with the Abundance Leadership Immersion program, held twice annually in Vermont. Developed by the Organizational Performance Group (OPG), the program explores the differences between an "abundance" mindset and a "scarcity" mindset. It is an extension of the teaching that Egan employs on the slopes and with his tour groups.

"An abundant leader sees the world as resource rich, so I would think that I could do all that I do in life," says Egan. "If you live your life in the scarcity mindset, where you're afraid of things or won't try something new, where you don't want to meet new friends or see a new culture, you're missing out on what most of life is about."

Though he doesn't have an MBA, and isn't formally educated in corporate structures, Egan comes from a long line of teachers in his family. In short, Egan is a natural at understanding what makes organizations successful, and identifying leadership qualities, says Tony Panos, co-founder and partner at OPG.

John Egan Ski Legend Leader
Credit: Hank De Vre

"Not only is John quick-witted, he has an amazing instinct," says Panos. "His instinct about people is what helps him connect so well with them.

"Most people think that John is a great skier, and mountaineer, and that's it. That's only the start," he says. "How he connects also makes him into a great leader, and facilitator of learning for others beyond skiing. He can take the everyday and turn it into a leadership lesson."

With his impish grin and leprechaun beard, Egan doesn't fit the typical notion of a "corporate leader." But he has walked the talk, says Panos, adding that Egan "sees things from an optimistic, open-minded perspective. He gets to know people and can relate to them from where they are."

"He helps people see the opportunities and possibilities," says Panos. "Abundance Leaders, like John, can do what they do because they're also amazing listeners and communicators."

Egan maintains active relationships with participants, coaching them throughout the year. Those sessions have a ripple effect, affecting not only Egan's protégées, but also others who work with them. Again, it's all about inclusion.

"I enjoy teaching," he says. "I enjoy learning. And I love sharing what I've learned."

That sense of sharing defines Egan's partnership with several tour operators – notably Doug Stoup's Ice Axe Expeditions – offering "once in a lifetime experiences." These trips continue to feed Egan's adventurous soul. He's eager to resume guiding, with no shortage of opportunities.

"I really want to get my feet back under me, and make sure that I'm skiing at a level that's worthy of people paying to ski with me," says Egan. "I really need to feel comfortable about that within myself. Obviously, my client base has been champing at the bit."

First up, if Egan gets his way, will be the Atlas Mountains of Morocco in the northwest corner of Africa, hopefully as soon as next summer. "That'll be my seventh continent that I've skied on," he says, before adding with a laugh, "And I've made money on six of them. So that's pretty good."

While being profitable is always preferable, Egan doesn't measure success by the financial bottom line. That metric is determined by the relationships he's built, the places he's visited, and the adventures he's shared.

"I have so many wonderful choices," says Egan. "Not only do I feel blessed for all this, but the clients don't take it for granted either. That connection with people is really what keeps me going."

For details on Egan's future escapades, visit his web site,

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