John Briner
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After 71 magical years of living and loving, John Briner crossed over into the heart of love-in the presence of his soulmate on August 12, 2018. A beloved son, brother, husband, friend, father and community member John embraced life fully, never failing to grow, and evolve throughout his entire existence.

Born in Michigan and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to parents committed to skiing, sailing, music and laughter, John was raised in a happy loving home. Thanks to a joyful and supportive mother and an active and skilled father the boys all grew up to embrace life fully.

The first year he lived in Colorado John became a ski instructor at Purgatory Mountain. This is a profession that John took to the highest level, creating ski instructors himself. John became the Ski School Director at Purgatory, Telluride and Sunrise, Az. He had a style of believing in someone and giving them a chance at teaching skiing, even when they were not sure they could do it. Then he would train them to achieve an excellence at it, far beyond even their own expectations.

The three Briner Brothers were the core of John's tribe. Younger brothers, Gordon and George followed his lead to the Colorado Rockies. All three brothers grew into men who loved to ski and mountain bike, most especially together.

There are so many chapters to John's life including being an accomplished river kayaker, mountain biker, sailboarder, fixed wing glider pilot, cowboy, a beginner disc golfer and brewer of beer. He was a master of telemark skiing, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, locomotive engineering and sailing.

Alaska mountains came calling in the form of a summer job driving trains. Eventually the grasp of the Alaskan wilderness seeped deeply enough into his heart that he deserted his job in Telluride and moved full time to the North. Here he discovered a new level of back-country skiing and camaraderie.

With his unquenchable curiosity he re-invented himself throughout his lifetime. At the tender age of 64 John met the love of his life and soulmate Knikki Cinocco. Being completely aligned in love and learning they were able to live a lifetime of adventures in their six short years together. This partnership also opened up the opportunity for John to embrace what would become one of his favorite roles; father and life guide to both Brook and Klover Cinocco. As a family they sailed, skied and lived life to the fullest.

John surrounded himself with a tribe of life loving people. Thanks to their partnership many people have been introduced to the joys of adventures in the snow! John recognized the mountains, skiing and other people as gifts of life. And in return he gave us all his wisdom of living, his love of skiing and his spirit to make others lives better.

Being a master at turning his passions into paths of action, he was always willing to teach and did so most especially through example. To know John Briner was to love and admire him, and most likely to have learned from him.

While some might say "I should do that some time" John was In. If his heart called him to it he poured his whole soul into a new adventure to experience something new, John was all in.

We All survive John by choosing to live our lives filled with our passions.

A celebration of John's life will take place in Southwestern, Colo. This winter. Details to come.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Durango Herald on Oct. 18, 2018.
Memories & Condolences
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6 entries
December 19, 2019
My old friend from high school. We did a lot of crazy things back then. I always thought about you over the years. We just started to reconnect when I heard of your passing. I will see you again I know and b sure to save a beer for me
Bill Best
April 13, 2019
I heard rumors of the sad news last month, but did not make an effort to check whether it was true until today, rummaging through old PSIA paperwork in search of his signature. John was my clinic leader for level III Exam Prep. He gave us all individual feedbacks, and mine was that my skiing at that time was not good enough to pass the exam. Yet, his way to relate the bad news was one that I have been trying to imitate each time I find myself in John shoes (well, ski boots at the time). And yet, I know that I will never quite match his ways, simply because they were rooted in a deep humanity and understanding which is rarely, if ever, matched. Somehow he succeeded in both sharing a negative opinion and in inspiring confidence that I could overcome my shortcomings. Two months after that clinic, I found out that John was going to be my examiner at Level III... . That confidence he inspired must have worked, as I was able to pass my Level III at the first attempt. I am truly grateful that I had a chance to cross paths with John, and I will always remember and treasure our interactions (alas, too brief!). Rest in peace.
April 2, 2019
I'd like to say, I feel honored to call John my friend. I held him in high regard. He passed me for my PSIA level II certification and failed me for one of my many tries at Level III. No one was happier for me than John when he learned that I had finally obtained my Full Certification shortly after. He was my boss at Telluride for a season. He was one of the kindest men I ever knew. That kindness was evident as my examiner and as my friend. There was a standing invite to Skagway--as long as it was on my motorcycle. Alas, I was not able to make it while he was still with us. Maybe soon my motorcycle and I will travel up that way and I will tip my helmet in his honor... rest in peace my friend.
February 25, 2019
John, that smile - the best. Worked under him for 7 years. He and Fritz made a great team. Remember those softball games on skis against the ski patrol. Those dinners at Purg. lodge and then off to Molas pass for our full moon skiing. what great times with John and the gang.
Does any know if the celebration of life has happened ? thanks
Keith DeLine , Centennial Co.
October 27, 2018
I skied with him when I was a kid at Purgatory and never forgot his gentle kindness. He is a legend.
October 20, 2018
That infectious grin! I will miss seeing it...him.
Even though we didn't run into to each other much, the joy of knowing him has encompassed more than 50 years.
John made the world more fun!
Terry Hutchison
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