← Back to Testimonials

Donny (Donald Duck) Nieters

Date of Surgery: 8/27/2015
Update (10/2016): Donny returned to instructing full-time last winter.

About Donny

Being from St. Louis folks always wonder how I became an Instructor. My usual response is that I’m just taking a year off of school, for the 30th time (well, 30th this year anyway.  My, how that number keeps getting bigger.)

That was the plan anyway, to take a break before getting serious about life but that all changed the day I learned how to ski at Winter Park at the age of 19. Especially after my friends took me to see my first Warren Miller movie that same night at a local theater. I could not sit still in my seat as I had never seen that kind of skiing before. That movie set the hook and before too long I was out there trying to emulate Scot Schmidt and Glen Plake.

I did make it back to school the next season and most every essay I wrote was about skiing. So a season later there I was back at Winter Park for another break from school. I was working at night so I could ski during the days. One particular day by chance I rode the lift with a Ski Instructor and before the end of the ride he had encouraged me to go try out at the Ski School hiring clinic that was happening the next day. I showed up at the hiring clinic the next day, got the job and have been at it ever since.    

Career Background

I got my start as an Instructor because of my experience working at a Summer Camp that I was also a camper at myself. Camp Sherwood Forest was one of the biggest influences in making me who I am today as well is where I got my passion for working in the outdoors and my first experiences in working with kids.

Though I initially became an Instructor just for a season pass I soon realized I had a talent for the job which quickly grew to a passion for the job. I have worked my way up in the ranks and am now Alpine Level 3 Certified, Children’s Accreditation 2, Alpine Freestyle 2, Snowboard Level 1 and I am working toward my RM Kids Trainer and Telemark and Adaptive certifications. I also have the honor of being an In-House Trainer for Winter Park Ski and Ride School specializing in Kids and Freestyle training.

My love for working outdoors in an adventurous way continues in the summers as I also work as a Whitewater Rafting Guide/ Guide Trainer and Kayaking.

Treatment Procedure and Recovery Plan

Emulating my heroes Scot Schmidt and Glen Plake took its toll on me as well as did my heredity and sometime in 2012 I started to notice that my left hip was giving me troubles. By the winter of 2014/15 I was at a point where every step was painful and skiing and riding made it hurt far worse. Though I continued to teach skiing and snowboarding I dared not go in to play on the mountain on my days off or participate in any unpaid training. My motto at that time was “No money, no turns. “ The same was true as I returned to rafting in the summer and could not boat full time due to pain.  I was wondering if I would be able to continue to ski/ride and boat for a living.

At the end of the 14/15 winter season I finally saw a specialist at Colorado Joint Replacement in Denver. He suggested a full replacement.

I had the latest “Minimally Invasive Anterior Total Hip Joint Replacement” procedure with the polymer on ceramic Stryker replacement done on August 27th, 2015.

My recovery was expedited in part by the fact that the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation made sure that I had the “Game Ready Cold Therapy Compression System” to at use home.

For the first six weeks I was restricted to light walking and some prone position exercises.  Eventually I was released to ride a stationary bike and at seven weeks I started going out to Physical Therapy. My progress has been steady and continuous.  I was back to teaching on the snow by 14 weeks post-surgery and I am actively preparing my muscles for the upcoming rafting/kayaking season.

Besides the new implant the biggest change for me has been the fact that before surgery I was on prescription high blood pressure medicine. Immediately after surgery my blood pressure was/is down to a healthy level and it is not because of a diet change (since my diet hasn’t changed.)  As my primary doctor whom took me off of the medicine pointed out there is such a thing as “pain induced high blood pressure.”

Well, I am pain free in that hip and going back to the mountain to play on my days off just for the fun of it…


"I am forever grateful for the kind folks at the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation and their generosity. I was at a point where I wasn’t sure I could continue down the not so lucrative yet incredibly rewarding path I was/am on for the past 29 years. My passion for snow sports instructing and rafting and kayaking was on the line. The KBF covered my deductibles, copays, prescriptions, P.T., anything my insurance didn’t cover and also the foundation staff arranged for me to use the “Game Ready Cold Therapy Compression Device” during my recovery, all of which would not have been possible on my own. Thanks to the KBF I am back to what I love without skipping a beat…"

- Donny (Donald Duck) Nieters