EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › What to Expect from Advanced Level Group Lessons
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

What to Expect from Advanced Level Group Lessons

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

During a ski trip last week, I took 2 group lessons (only 2 folks in each lesson).  At this resort, the group lessons are broken down by skiing level so that, for instance, Levels 6-7 and Levels 8-9 (self-identified) are grouped together.  I am in the lower half of Level 8, and was grouped with another student close in level (probably entry level 8).  Both of us had an interest in improving in glades and bumps, and each lesson was 2 hours long.

 

My question is about what is fair to expect from lessons at this level.  While there were a few techniques and ideas shared, much of the lesson in each case was more of a guided tour ... skiing glades/bumps both on the trail map and a few areas not marked on the map.  Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun and was glad to explore a few of these areas with an instructor.  I guess I am just wondering how much analysis/critique and technical tips one should expect at this level.  There is a lot of ground to cover from "advanced" to "expert", and I know I have a lot to learn.  Should I expect more from a group lesson, or is this par for the course? 

post #2 of 19

I have done the unlimited adult group lessons at Keystone twice- the top group usually included level 7 & 8s and most of the instructors certainly tried to do some coaching but this varied depending on the students and the instructor.  For bumps, we often started on flatter terrain working on short turns and even sometimes drills like pivot slips.  

 

I did some good glade skiing during some of these lessons, but don`t recall much actual instruction going on in the trees, except possibly a bit about tactics (look/aim for the openings).  To make a break through to the next level often requires getting out of your comfort zone, but I doubt that is what most instructors would want to do when in the trees on a two hour lesson.  If you did some bump runs, a good instructor should have been able to give you some feedback.

 

I think it is best to tell the instructor early on what you want to get out of the lesson.  Many experienced instructors will ask this, but some will make assumptions.  If you had a conversation like this with your instructor, he may have heard "I want to ski bumps and glades" as opposed to "I want to improve my skiing to be better in the bumps and glades"  With only two hours, the later may mean that you do a bunch of drills, etc. on terrain other than bumps and glades which may have left you with the question, "Why didn`t we ski bumps and glades when I said I wanted to get better at those" as opposed to "Why didn`t I get much coaching in the bumps and glades"

 

Another thing to thing about is that not all students want a bunch of criticism- especially when they have identified themselves as a level 8 or 9.  This, IMO, will cause some instructors to be reluctant to critic technique unless the student really gives them the green light to do so.

post #3 of 19

It depends on the resort and the pro you get. If I were in that situation, I would have requested the ski school supervisor to offer a "redo" from a more qualified instructor. Personally, I love teaching "tour" lessons because they are a great opportunity to sneak in instruction in bits and pieces while getting a lot mileage in. But I make sure the lesson summary covers the things we learned so that this kind of situation is avoided.

post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

I fully understand that communication on my part is a key ingredient to success.  I may need to be more clear about the things I am hoping to gain from the lesson so that there is less chance of misunderstanding.

post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by hobbes429 View Post

I fully understand that communication on my part is a key ingredient to success.  I may need to be more clear about the things I am hoping to gain from the lesson so that there is less chance of misunderstanding.



Exactly. Many times with more advanced lessons, students are looking for one or two pointers and a generally safe tour of the hill. It sounds like your instructor didn't do a great job of feeling out what you two wanted from the lesson(s). Or he/she only heard part of what you said, or heard what they wanted to hear. I generally find that there's more skiing and less talking involved in advanced lessons, mostly based on the fact that we ski much faster. But unless told to shut up and ski, I try to give short, quick feedback and suggestions for things to try either at each stop, on the lift, or at the beginning of a section of the hill.

 

Sounds to me like you should be more demanding of the instructor next time. And/or make sure you get a different instructor than last time. If they're still not living up to your expectations, then I'd ask the desk or supervisor for a suggestion on how you can get more out of the lesson (in other words, "my lesson was unsatisfactory and I think you should comp me a couple hours with a different instructor").

post #6 of 19
Would it be reasonable to think perhaps the "tour" aspect was instructional -- i.e.,

if you want to work on bumps, at your level (what I saw in your skiing) you should practice on this type of bumpfield and this kind of pitch

or

if you want to work on glades, at your level you should practice this type of pitch and this kind of tree spacing

and then the technique suggestions were the technical side of things?

A lot of students think that the reason they can't, for example, ski steep bumps is because they need the "magic secret" to unlock that terrain for them. More often they need a lot of very refined practice on much gentler bump fields.

That's where I'm going with this. I spend a fair amount of time trying to help my students figure out where they should ski for challenge, and where they should ski for skill-building. They're never the same part of the mountain!
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

Good input.  I am not sure if those were the intentions of the instructor, but I will use that input for thought/planning about how to maximize my own time working on things.  I thought it was revealing at the end of the 2nd lesson when the instructor indicated he "loved having these kinds of lessons with strong skiers, because you can just go ski and share some stories" ...

post #8 of 19

This is kind of a hard question without having been there. I'd say it sounds like you could have expected more. I can go anywhere from Tour Guide to Psychologist to Slave Master, and it is kind of nice to know where on the continuum you need to be for any given lesson. Then you have to balance the needs of the students and the terrain you want/need to teach them on with the terrain that they want to ski on.

 

Do you want this guy - oet72drpvz29te22.jpg

 

Or this guy - DRP_SHOWS_320x285_1.jpg

 

Be sure to let us know!

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hmmm ... pain versus commercialized psycho-babble ... isn't that really pain versus pain???

post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by hobbes429 View Post

Hmmm ... pain versus commercialized psycho-babble ... isn't that really pain versus pain???


I think I'd choose the whip!

post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 

On another note, what are the conditions/weather expectations for Stowe over the next 2 weeks?  I would like to sneak one more trip into what has been a disappointing season for me.

post #12 of 19

I have had great experience with advanced group lessons this year, but I knew from previous threads here the pitfalls of advanced levels (the tour vs real instruction issue discussed above, and the "validate my skiing" vs "actually teach me" divide.)  And I knew that "to ski better" is a non-productive answer to "what do you want to get out of this lesson?"

 

And I used some of the chair lift rides to give the instructor more background on where I was coming from and what was bothering me about my skiing.

 

(This was at Taos back in January.  It was a morning walk-up group lesson, ski off on the bunny hill and everything.  It helped me so much that I splurged and bought an afternoon 2 hour private -- my 1st private ever -- from the same guy.  Which helped even more.)

 

By the way, instruction at Taos seems to be a bargain compared to other mountains in its class.  I haven't looked up rates, but compared to what I expected, it was quite reasonable.  Still expensive, but not painfully so.  Even with a healthy tip.

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by hobbes429 View Post

On another note, what are the conditions/weather expectations for Stowe over the next 2 weeks?  I would like to sneak one more trip into what has been a disappointing season for me.


Plenty of snow up here. I feel pretty confident that we will make our April 22 closing date, but then again, the temps for the next two weeks are nuts! I could be wrong.

post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by hobbes429 View Post

On another note, what are the conditions/weather expectations for Stowe over the next 2 weeks?  I would like to sneak one more trip into what has been a disappointing season for me.



quite honestly great coverage on the trails. Its sad that we lost nearly every side/Back county run in what seems like 3 days. but the trail manmade and natural have alot of snow on them. 

 

Bring the slightly fat skis and surf the slush. 

 

We also have a dozenish L3 waiting for lessons and most adult line -up. Some are quite good. 

 

about the original post.

 

The problem with most advance levels lesson is this. The normal group lesson here at stowe 1.5 hours and we also do the 2.5 hour group lesson called a mountain clinic which is better  for people who are skiing at levels 6-7-8. These amounts of time are VERY VERY small compared to how long you have or havent been doing a movement or movement pattern on your skis. Practice makes permanent and in alot of cases nearly impossible to 'cure" people in these times. As Grizzled is saying. there are no magic bullets or quick fixes.  with that said if the instructor sticks to one or 2 things and you practice after the lessons there is a good chance you can take something away from the lesson.  It ends up being up to you. I can lead you to water but you got to want to drink it. 

 

some other tips from someone who does work the "line" from time to time.

 

Even we do not ask(I always ask) try to explain what you want from the lesson. If its unrealistic I'll let you know, or if I get something like " I need to learn to carve better to ski double blacks" Ill let you know why that is unrealistic as well. Some instructors are push over though and might try to go with it to little success.

 

As MDF was saying the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Talking to us on the chairlift lets us know even more about you. We can make up analogies that best fit you.

 

realize that most advance level skills are learned first on very easy blue and greens. Be ok with that and embrace it.

 

Balance is one thing you can improve year round. Its also the biggest limiting factor in what can be done on skis and there fore how far I can progress in a lesson. Yoga, roller Blading, ice skating , mountain biking , just biking in general all help your balance. Showing up to the lesson with solid balance skills will help make best use of what we as Pro coaches are trying to teach you. 

post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post


I think I'd choose the whip!




Maybe with a more attractive whipmaster.
post #16 of 19
Hobbes,

Building on what Josh just said... here's some examples of what I like to ask students at the start of the lesson, and/or on the chair rides. People are multi-dimensional and their skiing takes place within that context.

* What sports or hobbies do you have?
* What level of participation?
* What about your past, what did you used to do/play?
* What did you like about those sports/activities?
* What do you like about skiing?
* Do you ever see parallels between your skiing and your other activities? What are they?
* How do you prefer to learn? Watching? Hearing a description? Feeling something happen? A blend?
* What do you think are your strengths as a skier?
* What would you prefer be different?
* What do you do for a living? How do you approach it?

These things tell me a lot about a person's motivations, self-image, and learning preferences. They help me develop analogies and other thought/word paths to help the student improve.

Maybe other instructors like such information too? Worth thinking about.
post #17 of 19

At the 8-9 level much of the learning is in the tactical/intent side of things, especially in bumps and glades.  

 

Your instructor might have evaluated your skiing and found your techniques to be suitable for the bumps and glades but found your approach and tactics where the real problem. 

 

One cue for me is that you wanted to work on techniques in a hard way at the 8-9 level and that says to me that you might be too stuck on doing that in too much of your learning.  If you focus on technique too much at the higher levels you tend to become robot like and less able to ski anything that comes at you.  You instructor may have concluded this by watching you ski and listening to you and decided you needed far more in the way of tactics and not techniques.

 

Most instructors are geared more towards the technique side of teaching and lack ability to effectively teach tactics.  If your instructor was moving away from techniques and more towards tactics he should have tied focus/tactics to techniques for you so you could see the need for a change of direction.  

post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by hobbes429 ....I thought it was revealing at the end of the 2nd lesson when the instructor indicated he "loved having these kinds of lessons with strong skiers, because you can just go ski and share some stories" ...


There have been lots of great descriptions here of how a high level lesson might be conducted.

But I keep coming back to this....

 

post #19 of 19

I took a three day clinic last year. It exceeded my expectations. Actual instruction was limited but spot on ("you're not waterskiing - don't lean your whole body!"). The drills were (mostly) quite good at adressing the techniques they wanted us to learn or improve. Watching what the other skiers were doing (especially the really good ones) was also extremely helpful. The encouragement, guidance and opportunity to demo skill and condition specific skis was also great (especially revealing when the skis didn't work well!). My original hope was to learn to run gates well, the reality was that I picked up some tricks to deal with edging better in firm snow - which saved me in this season's disasterous manmade ice. Thanks Tim and Jim!

 

Several years ago the whole family signed up for a group lesson. More like a giant private. We were really going for cuts in the powder lines (yes even before KSL took over Squaw there were horrible lines on the best powder days). Once the instructor decided we had skills, he spent the whole time guiding us to sweet hidden spots on the mountain. That was fantastic! One sour note (not really) was his insistence that my wife get off the shaped K2 threes that she loved and get on a "modern" ski. The ski change was extremely painful and expensive - old skis were very well designed. She still looks wistfully at those skis every time she sees them.

 

The latest high end lesson was just for cuts (the lines on a great powder day are still long). When signing up with a random guy at the ski school line I asked "you can ski KT and Headwall can't you?). When we hooked up with the instructor (they had skied together the day before) the instructor's first words were "I waxed my skis so I MIGHT be able to keep up with you, Chris". I knew I was in trouble then! Great fun, great powder and useful cuts. Not much direct instruction - "don't do that" after the instructor tumbled out of a bad spot ahead of me. Excellent instruction by following the lines of the superior skills of the others. Plus, quite a workout (skating down any non-vertical pitch just to keep up with their speed on my unwaxed skis).

 

High level lessons work well for me when the drills are well thought out, there are more skilled skiers to emulate, I get a few relevant pointers and some special knowledge of the hill gets revealed. And I love the cuts!

 

"Ski instructors. I can't believe they are pros. I'm so much better than them!"

 

Eric

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › What to Expect from Advanced Level Group Lessons