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What to look for in a private instructor

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

Before heading to snowmass this season, I would like my wife to take some private lessons.  She has been on ski for the last 3 years but I have a hard time getting her of the beginner hill.  Even though she has had 4 full day group lessons at resorts out west as well as a couple 1/2 day lessons group lesson locally (WNY), she lacks the confidence off the beginner hill.  She wants to ski in control 100% of the time and therefore wants to ski extremely slow (almost a walking pace).

 

I was thinking of taking a different approach and setting her (she is mid 40's) up in some private 2 hr lessons at the local hill as it is much cheaper than snowmass.

 

Questions I have:

  • what questions do I need to ask when looking for an instructor. 
  • Is it common practice for resorts to only hire qualified/certified instructors 
  • from reading other posts, it looks like there is not much difference in instructors from big resorts and local resorts, but I only found a couple post that mention this, just wondering on your thoughts on this.

 

thanks in advance.

 

 

post #2 of 27

Find yourself a level 3 instructor, it's no guarantee, but it's a good start. Find someone that is ready to look at the whole package from the ground up. Be ready to et her into some real ski boots. If she wants to have control of her skis, there needs to be a solid connection between her feet and her skis - rental boots aren't going to give her that.

post #3 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtebor View Post

Before heading to snowmass this season, I would like my wife to take some private lessons.  She has been on ski for the last 3 years but I have a hard time getting her of the beginner hill.  Even though she has had 4 full day group lessons at resorts out west as well as a couple 1/2 day lessons group lesson locally (WNY), she lacks the confidence off the beginner hill.  She wants to ski in control 100% of the time and therefore wants to ski extremely slow (almost a walking pace).

 

I was thinking of taking a different approach and setting her (she is mid 40's) up in some private 2 hr lessons at the local hill as it is much cheaper than snowmass.

 

Questions I have:

  • what questions do I need to ask when looking for an instructor. 
  • Is it common practice for resorts to only hire qualified/certified instructors 
  • from reading other posts, it looks like there is not much difference in instructors from big resorts and local resorts, but I only found a couple post that mention this, just wondering on your thoughts on this.

 

thanks in advance.

 

 

I'd try talking to the ski school director or someone who is familiar with the instructors (not necessarily the person at the ski school ticket counter) and explain your wife's situation and see who they recommend.  Ask what level cert they are- not all hills require certs.  I would tend to want to go with a FEMALE level 3 as you may find that your wife relates better or feels more comfortable with a woman.
 

 

post #4 of 27

I would be looking for an instructor that your wife will feel comfortable with.  This might be a male or a female.  It could be an uncertified or level one instructor if they have the empathy and communication skills to develop a rapport with your wife.  They will need some technical knowledge of course, but the most important thing with a fearful middle aged woman will be that she trusts them and feels comfortable enough to follow their instruction even when she might be scared.  All other things being equal, a level 3 instructor tends to have more experience and skill than a lower cert, but I can think of many level 2 and even some level 1 instructors who would be a better fit for a student like your wife than some of the younger level 3s I know.  Ask around and don't wait until the morning of the "lesson" to do this.  If possible try and meet the potential instructor before hand.  It's your money and you should be feeling good about your choice before spending it.  You probably have some very good instructors at your local hill.  It's also your "local" hill so repeat lessons will be easier.  The price is also probably much lower.  My feeling is that the top tier instructors at a major resort will be the best you will find.  I think this partly because I teach full time at a major resortbiggrin.gif, but mostly because these top people do ski instruction full time as their real job and have been doing it in many cases for a really long time.  You don't get that kind of experience and training working part time at "the local hill".  That being said, many large resorts hire people who they believe to be qualified...  IE trainable, but who are not necessarily certified or experienced every year.  There is a big difference between a "qualified" first year instructor and a fully certified 10 year veteran.  Again....  Ask around and look for the right fit for you and your wife.

post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 

thanks for the advice.  The ski pass I have gives me 1hr group lessons so I think I will start taking them for myself so I can start to know the instructors.  I took a lesson a few years back while I still had straight skis and boy did that knock my ego down a few notches :)

post #6 of 27

Hi mtebor!

 

Ask the Ski Patrol at your local hill to recommend a good instructor for your wife.  At our little hill, the instructors and ski patrol all know each other pretty well.  When the Ski Patrol makes their rounds they can see who's out doing the lessons and have an idea of how the instructor operates.  They've sent a number of lessons my way (always appreciated :D) with students who sound very much like your wife.  I think your on the right track with getting her out of a group setting and into private lessons.  With the right instructor, she'll be on the Blues in no time and loving every minute of it!yahoo.gif

post #7 of 27


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtebor View Post

Questions I have:

  • what questions do I need to ask when looking for an instructor. 
  • Is it common practice for resorts to only hire qualified/certified instructors 
  • from reading other posts, it looks like there is not much difference in instructors from big resorts and local resorts, but I only found a couple post that mention this, just wondering on your thoughts on this.

 


I recommend your approach of getting lessons at the local hill as a greater value for most skiers.

 

Questions to ask:

-Their certification

-Their availability

-Their specialties

-Where do they ski on vacation?

-What do they do for their "day" or "off season" job?

-What other sports do they do?

-Who would they recommend if they were not available?

 

Most people hired as ski instructors in the US have never taught skiing before. 

 

One general difference between East and West resorts is that there are more full time instructors working out West. I also suspect that the average age of instructors in the West is lower. Other than those two factors, you are far more likely to find differences among instructors at a particular resort than to find differences among an "average" Eastern instructor vs an "average" Western instructor (e.g. with regards to teaching skills and skiing abilities).

 

 

Questions for you:

Does your wife "love" skiing, "like" skiing, or is she "trying" this for you?

Does she own any ski gear or always rent?

What other sports does she like?

Where is your local hill (we may be able to recommend an instructor)?

Have you considered roller blading in the summer?

 

post #8 of 27

Let's set the record straight here, Aspen Snowmass instructors are all full cert and many are examiners as well. (In excess of 180 examiner level coaches, ed staff, demo team, world class racers)  They are the cream of the teaching world. So when comparing instructors make sure you are comparing apples to apples. As far as contacting Julian Gregory (SSD at Snowmass) about who would be a best fit for your wife, he would probably refer you to his private lesson desk staff who are very, very good at matching the right coach to a student. Consider the fact that the majority of their returning private clients have over a twenty year relationship with their coach. So the desk does a pretty good job matching guests to coaches. Just make sure you express what you want and I am quite sure they will find you a coach that is exactly that.

That doesn't mean other smaller areas don't try, they just don't have the wealth of talented coaches. Most don't even have a staff of 180 full timers, let alone that many examiners. Does that mean they are more expensive than other top shelf ski schools, not really. The last thought I want to offer is this woman is the love of your life and if you want to ignite a passion for skiing in her, that is far more likely to occur when she works with a beyond level three coach. That being said, only you know for sure how interested she is in skiing, don't force her to learn, offer to share your passion for the sport and see where it goes.

post #9 of 27



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

Let's set the record straight here, Aspen Snowmass instructors are all full cert and many are examiners as well. (In excess of 180 examiner level coaches, ed staff, demo team, world class racers)  They are the cream of the teaching world. So when comparing instructors make sure you are comparing apples to apples. As far as contacting Julian Gregory (SSD at Snowmass) about who would be a best fit for your wife, he would probably refer you to his private lesson desk staff who are very, very good at matching the right coach to a student. Consider the fact that the majority of their returning private clients have over a twenty year relationship with their coach. So the desk does a pretty good job matching guests to coaches. Just make sure you express what you want and I am quite sure they will find you a coach that is exactly that.

That doesn't mean other smaller areas don't try, they just don't have the wealth of talented coaches. Most don't even have a staff of 180 full timers, let alone that many examiners. Does that mean they are more expensive than other top shelf ski schools, not really. The last thought I want to offer is this woman is the love of your life and if you want to ignite a passion for skiing in her, that is far more likely to occur when she works with a beyond level three coach. That being said, only you know for sure how interested she is in skiing, don't force her to learn, offer to share your passion for the sport and see where it goes.



JASP- what have you been smoking? Not to take anything away from the Aspen Ski Schools, but come on... You have more than slightly exaggerated your point. I have alot of friends who work there, and even they might find your claims excessive.

 

If all of Aspen's instrs are already full cert, how come we see so many taking L1 and 2 exams every year? And I hate to tell you this- but you are blowing smoke when you state that Aspen has 180 Examiner (we don't have that many advanced educators in the entire division), D-Team, and WC racers on their staff. Yes, they do have a very talented staff, certainly a great group!

 

Time for you to come back down to earth and remember that a great many top level instrs came to Aspen from those smaller areas, to market their abilities. What makes you think that those same small areas aren't still producing some top notch instrs? Don't write them off because they aren't at one of your "top shelf ski schools".

 

You and I have never really disagreed much before, and I do agree that Aspen has a fine staff. But when someone asks for sincere advice, keep it straight! No need to lay it on so thick... (unless you are trying to get a job with Aspen).

 

post #10 of 27

mtebor, does your local hill offer group lessons "Just For Women"? I worked at two dinky ski areas, Showdown and Bridger Bowl in Montana, which didn't have huge ski schools but did offer weekly group classes for women on a special day (Thursdays) with a lunch included, with a choice of doing four or eight sessions. In teaching these classes over many years, I became convinced that this is the very best way for women to become great skiers because so many of my students did. And an amazing thing happened: where initially the students would report about skiing with their spouses over the weekend, saying, "He took me to this run that scared me to death!" -- after some time changed to, "I took my husband to this run and he was scared to ski it!" After a while of this we started up a Wednesday Men's Group for the husbands.

 

We prepared a lot of wives for ski trips to the big resorts in the south and they did just fine. Some even took a few lessons while there and found they complemented our class very nicely.

 

VSP is correct, while not in such vast numbers, good instructors can be found wherever ski schools exist. There's no telling why they may be stuck at that podunk area, just give thanks that they are. If you want to know who that might be, send a PM to one of the instructors on EpicSki from that region. Find them here: EpicSki Instructor and Coach List

post #11 of 27

VSP Like you, I work for VRI nowdays but did work at Aspen and all I was quoting is the information we were given when I worked there. As an examiner I would say you know the numbers as well as anyone in RM, so if what I wrote was in error please accept the appology for believing what I was told. I can say from personal experience they do the groom a few new instructors each year, but the job requirment is full cert, or having it within the first few seasons. BTW I have ne designs on moving back to Aspen, I just feel their school is one of the top in the country and since Mtebor is already going there it seems appropriate to tell him about the school's top shelf reputation.

 

To the point of finding a good instructor at a smaller area it is possible but like VRI, Aspen has a wealth of these top full time coaches because they pay better than the smaller resorts. So the likelyhood of finding a good fit among that larger talent pool is greater.

post #12 of 27

The OP wants his wife to have lessons before heading to Snowmass...

post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 

thanks everyone for all your opinions.

 

For Rusty

Questions for you:

Does your wife "love" skiing, "like" skiing, or is she "trying" this for you?  I would say like

Does she own any ski gear or always rent? she owns boots and we rent skis for season for continuity.

What other sports does she like? Other than bowling not much.  She used to be active in Volleyball (recreational) but that was a long time ago

Where is your local hill (we may be able to recommend an instructor)?Holiday Valley in Ellicotville NY

 Have you considered roller blading in the summer?  Definitely Not

 

NOLO

 does your local hill offer group lessons "Just For Women"?   As far as I know they do not. the resort is a little over an hr away and my wife wouldn't drive it by herself anyways.

 

I do like the idea of trying to set her up in 2 hour private lessons weekly until our trip (FEB) so she should have about 6 lessons or so.  In snowmass I will put her in a group lesson as I can't afford to do private out there.  She wants to be at the same level as my sister in law who is currently doing greens and easy blues.

     ddd

post #14 of 27

1. I am not an instructor.

2. I have skiied with some incredible instructors who are genuinely generous individuals, with their mind and their impartation of skills

3. Many high class individuals have been great instructors to me and my boy.

4. So if you do visit these places and have the privilege of skiing with these folks, your spouse would be well-served by these class individuals and they are in random order listingl

(a) Zurs, Austrian and Treble Cone, NZ : Klaus Mair

(b) Alta, Utah : Shelly Wedge and Tom Cadura

(c) Sunshine Village : Adrian Seligman

(d) Whistler-Blackcomb: Denis Ebacher

(e) Snowbasin, Utah: Jim Forster

(f) Deer Valley: Kristin W

(g) Solitude: Karin Petersen and Kurt Warnecke

(h) Catamount, NY: Chuck Seymour

 

best of luck and yes, instructors in private lessons are a hit and miss but a bit of luck and you become a good if not great skier from one's own perspective

 

post #15 of 27
post #16 of 27
Not trying to thread jack, but my wife is a non skier and I want her to learn this winter.
For lesson number 1, would private be better than A group?
I can't imagine anyone saying that it wouldn't, but thought I would ask.
post #17 of 27

Yes. 

post #18 of 27

I'll "second" Nolo's response!  Your wife will be more relaxed "One on One" and the instructor will be focused only on your wife!  Have fun and let us know how it turns out!  (Pun intended) wink.gif

post #19 of 27
In that case, I'll spring for an all day lesson...cool.gif
post #20 of 27

mtebor,

 

Ok I feel a bit intimidated by all the full time professional advice you're getting! But I'll throw in my 2 cents. I love skiing, I am a ski instructor. Yes I am certified too. What I would like to do is share a story that happened several times. What made the difference each time is the social aspect of skiing. Would you consider taking a lesson with your wife? Maybe just joining in for the last hour of the lesson? For example, a good instructor, I would think, can show you things you can work on... yes even on the green runs...or the blue runs when your wife gets there... and that would give her more of a feeling that you're doing this together. I was able to coach several levels of skiers at the same time. That really made the difference several times for them.

 

Hope your wife gets to have a great experience!  and you too!

post #21 of 27

Ooh, snownat, are you advising that husband and wife take lessons together? I would only advise that if the instructor is female. Let me explain why. In every marriage there is a balance of power in their social dynamic. If the wife is the less-skilled in the lesson, and the instructor is male, her perceived vulnerability will be increased by a factor of 2. If the instructor is female, the husband would be "odd man out" and in this case, this would not pose a problem. 

 

I have done exactly ONE husband-wife private lesson, both lifelong skiers, in perfect balance of power socially, except that the husband thought he was much better than his wife. The chairlift we used during the lesson was a double. On the first ride with the wife, she confided, "This lesson is really for George. He skis out of control and I'm afraid he'll hurt himself." (She was right.) The next ride up was with the husband, "This lesson is really for Jane. She's too timid and needs to learn to carry more speed." (He was right.) I worked on shaping round turns, which they both needed. Jane applied herself and did well. George didn't want to change at all and ignored my advice.  

 

After that lesson I only worked with Jane. She got to be quite a skilled skier. Her husband? He still skis like the mountain is an opponent to be vanquished and is a little bit scary to watch. 

post #22 of 27

Funny I never had that experience,

 

My reason for avoiding couples is this:

 

I had this couple: first ride with him, "I am really here to propose, I want you to get us up to the top of the mountain at a romantic spot, then leave, as I am going to propose to her". 

 

Next ride with her:  "I am only here because he made me come, after this trip, I am moving out.  I think thou he is going to do somthing dumb like propose, so no matter what make sure you never leave me alone with him, that includes after skiing, you are coming for dinner/drinks everything. Dont worry I will pay."

 

Ott+Wedeln.gif

 

Talk about walking the tight rope....the next 3 days....Him "give me time alone with her".  Her "dont you dare leave me".

post #23 of 27

That's a better story! Marriage on the rocks before the proposal. 

post #24 of 27

I still lose sleep over it.

post #25 of 27

mmm...ok... I guess I am fortunate to have had other experiences but I do see your point.  :-)  Yes I was thinking female instructor.  

post #26 of 27

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

Ooh, snownat, are you advising that husband and wife take lessons together? I would only advise that if the instructor is female.


Seems like a bit of a generalization. I've been assigned a few of these lessons and they always seem to work out well for me. You can always spin it to establish where the "stronger" skier needs to be. Glad I didn't get Skidude's lesson though. I hope there was at least a good tip in it!

post #27 of 27

Agreed. Couples in a lesson are at best a compromise and at worst, divorce inducing. Don't forget to include your wife in what she feels she's comfortable with. Hey if skiing with a young male instructor is her thing, that might be motivation enough for her to progress.

 

I never watch it myself personally but there's a ski movie that's talked about amongst instructor circles. 

 

Wife and Husband are waiting for a private lesson at a ski resort.

 

Wife: "I don't understand why we have to spend 3 weeks here freezing when we could be on a beach right now."

Husband: "Look, can you at least give skiing a try for a week. If you still don't like it, we'll go off to a beach somewhere."

 

A dashing ski instructor is seen swooping down from the slopes and stops stylishly in front of the couple. 

 

Ski Instructor: Hi, My name is TJ. I'm your ski instructor."

Wife to Husband: "Did you say 3 weeks? I can do that." 

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