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Best option for Intermediate Instruction at Breckenridge?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I will be heading to Breck in a few weeks and would like some input on what type of "adult lesson" I should book for myself.   After reading the description of skier levels, I would consider myself a 5-6.  I spend my entire day skiing blues and I ski them confidently and comfortably but I am intimidated by steeper terrain, especially when it gets icy.  At this time,  have no desire to do a black diamond or moguls.  I have gotten down a blue-black, but its slow going and not enjoyable for me yet.  I tend to be a slower, more cautious skier.   I have been skiing for approx 4 days (1 week) each year for the past 15 years.  I haven't had a lesson since my first "never ever" ski lesson and have gotten to where I am by learning from experience (aka just doing it) and the assistance/advice of much more experienced  family.   After years of renting, I finally bought myself some nice boots and a good pair of skis, and I have decided that I would like to take a lesson to get my skiing to the next level.  My PRIMARY goal is improving my technique (I'm sure I have some bad habits/form), so that I can last longer on a day out and also so that I will gain even more confidence in my skiing ability.  I would be perfectly content skiing blues the rest of my life--just want to do 'em better & faster.  Less important, but a hoped for outcome, is that as my skill improves, that I will find myself desiring to be challenged by more difficult runs and having the confidence to ski the blue-blacks more often. 


Ideally, I would like a private lesson, but I just can't swing that cost ($460 for half day--no one in my family is even close to the same age/ability level, so I don't have anyone to share the cost with)  :(  Will I be OK signing up for an intermediate/advanced group lesson?  My concerns are 1) being grouped with more aggressive skiers of same ability and finding myself somewhat intimidated all day and 2) ending up in a large group and not getting the individualized technique instruction that I desire.   I have called the ski school on 2 occaisions and gotten different responses each time.  The first time I called, I was told that my choices were either a private lesson or group lesson.  Thats it.  I asked about the Ultimate four, and was told that was only for beginners.  I called the second time, mostly wanting to determine whether my skiing ability put me in the "beginner/novice" group lesson category or the "intermediate/advanced" category for a group lesson.  That time, I was strongly encouraged to try the Ultimate Four session for more personalized technique instruction, albeit more beginner terrain.  She said that the group lessons, while they try to keep them at 4-6 can have as many as 13!!!! on a busy day!?  (FYI: I will be taking lessons on a non-holiday weekday in Feb) Apparently the Ultimate Four is only for adults in levels 1-4.  The ski school rep I spoke with said she'd hope that I would be grouped with at least a level 4 skier, if not an advanced level 4 skier.  That could put me on green terrain a good part of the day? 


Does anyone have experience with either of these options?  If so, based on your experience, what do you think would be the best way to go based on my ability and goals?  Cost difference is negligible.  ($120 + lift ticket for group lesson, $240 for ultimate four includes lift ticket & lunch).  Given that I'm going on a weekday at a more "off" time, am I likely to be in a small enough group that group lesson would be oK?  Will I be grouped witih a level 7 skier if there aren't more people signed up for lessons or will I be taught separately?  Any advice or comments you have based on your own experience in Breckenridge would be much appreciated!

post #2 of 3

Here's the deal with Breckenridge group lessons.  They have a tremendous deal for season pass holders that allows you to buy a season long unlimited Thurs-Sunday lesson pass.  While overall the number of season pass holders who buy and use the lesson pass is fairly small, the group lessons can be slammed on those days.  So, if you want to get your money's worth out of a group lesson, you should definitely try for Monday-Wednesday.  The upper divisions also get slammed because the unlimited lesson pass holders often are buying the lesson pass primarily to cut the lift lines.  So, as long as you are in a 6 or below group, you are less likely to have as crammed a group as you might otherwise have.


Also, the lesson pass is blacked out certain dates.  Presidents day weekend, and a couple of weeks in March are out.  So, if you happen to be in those time windows, you can have a good experience.


As key is getting a good (or great) instructor.  As with most things, there is quite a range in instructors and their style may not work for you.  That being said, if there is any way you can get a lesson from Mark Bagby (Bags), go for it.  He is one of their most experienced instructors.  Because he was injured in the off-season, he has been teaching lower level (7) groups.  Even if you were to get stuck in a group with 10 others, if it's Bags, it's worth it.  


My 2 cents.



post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

I did not get a lot of feedback here, but let me share what I found, what I did & my experience, in case it will help someone else.  BTW, I had an excellent experience, and got just what I wanted out of my group lesson!  The Ultimate 4 package is only available for first timers-level 4 skiers, so was not really an option for me, as I am a 5-6 skier.  I went ahead & booked an all day intermediate group lesson on a non-holiday Monday in February at The Village/Ten Mile Station.  They have little signs at the back of the restaurant where group lessons are formed.  There was a sign for skiing easy blues, skiing easy blues parallel, blue with black diamond (skiing more challenging blue terrain parallel) and maybe one more--I foget.  I went to the sign for skiing easy blues parallel.  There were about 9 of us that "put ourselves in that category".  One of the instructors came around & spoke to each of us individually to ask where we were at and what our goals were for the lesson.  My stated goal was to improve my technique (I ski blues all the time, but haven't had a lesson since day 1 skiing!), mostly with the intention to stay on blues, but that if my technique could improve my confidence & control that I'd be willing to try some blue-blacks or blacks in the near future.   There were several in the group already skiing blue-blacks & blacks & were wanting to work on techniques for more challenging terrain.  They were put into a separate group.  Everyone in my group was at my level or slightly below (skiing blues & new to blue slopes, several still wedging), which is what I wanted....I needed to go slow & focus on form. 


There were only 5 in my group & we got PLENTY of quality, individualized instruction.  Mark Keedy was my instructor & I thought he was fantastic!  He has been there since 1995, I believe.  He teaches at all levels and also does private lessons.  I felt that he kept us where we were comfortable & could focus on technique, while at the same time challenging those of us ready for the next level.  What I liked about Mark:  he was efficient in his use of instructional time and he did an excellent job both demonstrating and verbally describing the tips he was giving us.  He gave lots of visual imagery that helped a concept sink in & he had a good sense of humor.  He made sure to have one-on-one focus with each person in our group and coached us each at our own level within the class instruction.  Feedback, pointers, etc were all individualized for each person in our class.   During the morning, he gave us a variety of tips & things to focus on, but encouraged us to focus on/ work on one new idea at a time.  This allowed each of us to try out each "idea" to see what helped us most.   By the end of the morning, everyone had made big strides & we even tackled a few of the blue blacks.  Most of the group was only a half day lesson, so there were only 2 of us in the afternoon.  I am so glad I did a full day!  The afternoon was when I really got to put together everything I'd learned in the morning with the supervision of my instructor & getting lots of personalized feedback, since the group was smaller--it was practically a private lesson.  We also skied some slightly more challening terrain.  When I skied with my family later in the week, they were amazed at how much more confident & skilled I was on the mountain!  My husband noticed a big difference in how natural my form looked & my confidence and control with more speed & on steeper slopes. 


I will definitely consider a Breck Ski School lesson again when I'm ready to move to the next level (work on timing with poles/moguls).  My experience was extremely positive and everything I'd hoped for!

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