I assess the 4 n-e's and they're athletic enough to pick it up pretty quickly to the point of getting on the rope and heading up the 5%-1% pitch of our rope tow hill. I tell the "intermediate" to go warm up while I'm helping the 4 n-e's get ready to move up the hill. It's about 20 minutes total time and they are ready. I take 6 cones up with me and set them up staggered and well-spaced, and tell the "intermediate" to make some turns in the cones for me, so I can assess his turns.
He'd reported saying he was able to "parallel turn" and I wanted to see what that meant. To be kind and generous, I'd say he interprets the idea far differently than most of us would. There wasn't any turning going on without lots of steps and shuffles of the skis around the cone. He skis up to me and says, "I think I'm ready to jump to the intermediate class. I can probably go ride the chair and catch up with them."
At this point I congratulate him for negotiating the cones and ask him to come up to the top with me so I can give him some things to try in the cone set. First I ask him to try a little re-centering hop between the cones. I demonstrate it by doing the course with hops between cones. I shoot back up the rope and ask him to give it a try. Then I go back to the 4 n-e's and get them to come down the slope making gentle wedge turns.
The "intermediate" guy comes over to me and asks me how he did. I ask him how many hops he got in the course. He says, "I got a good hop between every cone." He got none. There was only one visible attempt at hopping and all he did was extend from a crouch to a less-crouched position. In between the other cones there was no visible sign of trying.
I tell him that sometimes it feels like a hop when we're not actually getting anywhere, and then showed him a hop while standing still. I asked him to do one standing still. He only unweighted the skis enough to make them quiver a bit in their positions. I ask him to jump higher and start from a bigger crouch (which would be tough because he was pretty crouched already but it was all I could think of) and then showed him a deep crouch into a hop.
He tries again to no avail. I then ask him to go back to the wedge and do thumpers with his inside ski, and I show him the thumpers. Then I return to the 4 n-e's, who are now ready to go through the cones. They all traverse the cones in varying degrees of smoothness, some on the pretty-rough (shuffles and steps and halts) end of things, but none as roughly as my "intermediate".
"Intermediate" comes back to me and says "those are easy, do you have anything tougher?" I ask him to make his best run doing thumpers. He groans, rolls his eyes, and says "OOOOOOOkay." He goes back to the cones, gets maybe 2 decent lifts of the tail out of probably 12 attempts (which I discern from his body movements, not by the tails actually coming up).
The 4 n-e's continue working on their turns through the cones, enjoying it and not complaining at all. I've given them the freedom to use the cones, or to just make turns down the slope wherever they like. All 4 choose the cones.
"Intermediate" comes back and says, "see, that's super-easy for me". I tell him I saw a couple good ones in there, and suggest that maybe we try something else. (At this point I'm hoping to get him experiencing some success, rather than merely declaring it. It's feeling like a reckless hope given his over-estimations thus far.)
I get him to use one of his poles in the handlebar position and tell him to go through the cones like that, making wedge turns. He's refused to move his hands from his sides at any point thus far, despite my suggestion of that, reminders of the suggestion, explanations for the request to keep the hands forward and up. Even in a wedge he's riding the tails so his tips are laying across each other most of the time. I explain that's because he's not pressuring the whole ski and needs to pressure the front half more, and tell him that keeping his hands forward will help him do that. He says, "I don't believe you. I don't see any difference when I keep them up and when I keep them at my sides." I remind him of the couple of times when he actually did it and how his shovels were engaged and more manageable for several moments, but this goes nowhere.
At this point he's ready to call it a day and have a beer. He tells me he wants to be in the intermediate group next week because he's bored and can do everything I asked him to try, and can do those things wayyyyy too easily.
His picture of himself is so radically different from what's going on that I don't know how to deal with him. What I gather is that he's really attached to labels and other indirect symbols of certain assumed accomplishments. In the first conversation where he said he was making "parallel turns," he declared that he's skied every "black diamond" on the hill. This makes me think "skiing" to him is what I'd consider "barely surviving, probably because he doesn't realize what is being risked." The skiing I saw on the 3% grade would not cut it on any of our hill's BD rated runs/areas. Would not. At all. In any shape. It would be traverse-fall-traverse-fall-fall again-remove skis and hike down-traverse-fall-repeat ad infinitum.
How do you manage this kind of student's expectations, self-assessments, and disconnections from reality? Is video footage the only hope?
I'm not a shrink. Why would someone be so attached to "intermediate" labeling, bragging rights to "parallel turns" that aren't even remotely there in any context, and lying to himself about his success rates in various games we played in the cones?