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N America Ski Schools

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

First time skiing over the pond and loved our stay in Whistler.  Great terrain and friendly people.....

 

Observations regarding ski teaching would be that it seems less of a serious career.  Talking to L3s and their pay was v low compared to what you might receive in the Alps.  I talked to a quite a few older instructors who had made money elsewhere and were doing it basically as a lifestyle thing.  Also looked like some pretty ordinary skiing and teaching going on although did see some decent L4 and L3s.  My other half had a couple of pretty disappointing lessons.  

 

Perhaps some kind marketplace for ski teaching could help standards on the hill...

post #2 of 25

Yep. Got any ideas?

post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 

Could independent teachers not be allowed on hill...perhaps by limited licence if the hill is worried about losing its monopoly.

 

Minimum level of instructor for above beginner perhaps??

 

Don't want to sound grumpy about the whole thing as Whistler was absolute magic....

post #4 of 25

Scots,

 

The short answer is yes. But it's complicated.

 

There is a limited amount of this that does happen in the US through various methods. There have been some private schools operating under license to the resort (I don't know how many are left). In the East, Hunter converted their private school into part of the resort in order to maximize profits. There are several private "camp" type instructional offerings that work through multiple resorts (e.g. NASTC). There are also several resorts that have "spun off" specialized offerings that may or may not remain 100% owned by the resort (e.g. Weems' Diamond program). Many Colorado resorts offer "visiting" privileges to instructors from other Colorado resorts. There are also ski clubs that provide instruction to their club members.

 

Another area of complication is that everyone conducting commercial transactions while operating on US Forest Service land are required to operate under a permit that usually requires a contribution of a percentage of their revenues to the USFS. Resorts can let independent instructors operate under their permit, but my research has concluded that this is often down very informally. If this type of instruction became more prevalent, there would likely be more scrutiny of it. Individuals can secure their own USFS permit to teach on USFS land (either on or off ski resort property), but to my knowledge no one has done this. When a resort operates on USFS land, their operating permit typically allows them exclusive rights to commercial activities conducted on the property. When I talked to the USFS to research this issue they expressed their opinion that competition between resorts for instruction was sufficient to meet their goals for a competitive market.

 

Resorts operating on private property can make their own rules for private instruction. Most resorts have a "soft" ban on private instruction primarily for the purpose of protecting ski school revenue. Typically these rules are not published. Many resorts allow groups to handle their own instruction if they choose.  Most resorts typically do not aggressively enforce preventing private instruction because it is difficult to distinguish from friends helping friends and because it is typically too small a problem to worry about. Occasionally, resorts do take action against individuals when activity becomes blatant (e.g. selling in the parking lot) or problematic (customer complaints to the real ski school about private instructors or law suits related to private instruction).

 

The bottom line here is that profits from instruction are an important part of resort operations and thus are mostly protected from on resort competition against private instruction (e.g. similar to not allowing food trucks to operate in the parking lot). There are some exceptions, but not enough to provide significant on mountain competitive pressure. The main competition for ski instruction is between resorts. Their is some limited competition between camps and resorts for advanced level instruction, but this does not have significant impact on the industry as whole.

post #5 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotsJohn View Post

Could independent teachers not be allowed on hill...perhaps by limited licence if the hill is worried about losing its monopoly.

 

If a resort is on private property, the owners have pretty much complete control over who is allowed in and what kind of commercial activities are allowed there.  Forcing them by law to allow independent competition on their property would probably be ruled as unconstitutional.  (This has been done in certain heavily regulated industries, such as telecommunications providers being forced to allow competition on long-distance phone service by the FCC, but that's an interstate commerce issue.  Something like this is unlikely to fly on a local basis.)

 

In theory the state or federal government (as appropriate) could put restrictions like this on resorts using public land when they make or renew leases.  I'm guessing it would be harder to find lessees for ski areas if they were not promised monopolies on commercial activity like food+clothing sales, ski instruction, etc.  They certainly wouldn't pay as much, and licensing the independent contractors would be a pain.

 

Quote:
Minimum level of instructor for above beginner perhaps??

 

Who defines "above beginner" and the type and amount of certification that are required?

 

I suppose an organization like NSAA could try to push a standard like this (or PSIA for its member ski schools), but IMO trying to do this on a national or even state level by law would be fairly intrusive.  If there was a rash of people being hurt by incompetent instructors, or consumer complaints about ski schools, I could maybe see legal standards being looked at.  But I think that trying to regulate ski lesson quality by legislative fiat is not a good approach in general.

post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 

Interesting what you say about the Forestry etc.  I think ski schools in Europe pay some kind of community or local taxes...

 

I guess looking at similar big resorts, say for example, Val d' Isere or the 3 Valleys there are many options available and on the face of it, it's hard to understand why a consumer shouldn't have a bit more choice.  The state does have a significant hand in regulating French ski teaching but in very general terms this means learners are guaranteed a L4 (or L3, ISIA, if the instructor is a trainee) it also means instructors can earn a living wage by virtue.

 

Where there isn't state involvement say Switzerland, choices are still there.  Austrian resorts are a bit of a closed shop like N America, Italy quite similar to France.

post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthias99 View Post
....  If there was a rash of people being hurt by incompetent instructors, or consumer complaints about ski schools, I could maybe see legal standards being looked at. ....

 

....I continually am amazed at how many people in my ski club who take seasonal lessons think the program is great and their instructor is wonderful.  But they can't tell me anything they've learned, nor how their skiing is changing.  I had a seasoned instructor once tell me that the most important thing that made lesson-takers happy was a sunny day.  Second was feeling safe.  A distant third was learning something.

post #8 of 25

 your comment makes sense....whenever i've taken group lessons (high blue/low black) at, say whistler or big white, I've found that

a large proportion of my classmates were visitors from other provinces or countries and not keeners  who ski that often (30-50+ days/yr)

 but instead want to take lessons as part of their ski trip experience.

 

....so i guess having memorable weather and feeling safe with a professional guide to the mountain, in a foreign environment, makes sense and takes priority.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

 

....I continually am amazed at how many people in my ski club who take seasonal lessons think the program is great and their instructor is wonderful.  But they can't tell me anything they've learned, nor how their skiing is changing.  I had a seasoned instructor once tell me that the most important thing that made lesson-takers happy was a sunny day.  Second was feeling safe.  A distant third was learning something.


Edited by canali - 2/9/13 at 9:07am
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotsJohn View Post

 Talking to L3s and their pay was v low compared to what you might receive in the Alps.  I talked to a quite a few older instructors who had made money elsewhere and were doing it basically as a lifestyle thing.  

Doesn't it have a lot to do with how little of what student pays actually goes to the instructor? There was some discussion a while ago and I was amazed by the huge chunk of cash ski school keeps.

Of course this in turn makes the instructor expecting tips from student, who is already paying buttload of money for lessons. At least that's the impression I get from the couple of threads on tips here.
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotsJohn View Post

First time skiing over the pond and loved our stay in Whistler.  Great terrain and friendly people.....

 

Observations regarding ski teaching would be that it seems less of a serious career.  Talking to L3s and their pay was v low compared to what you might receive in the Alps.  I talked to a quite a few older instructors who had made money elsewhere and were doing it basically as a lifestyle thing.  Also looked like some pretty ordinary skiing and teaching going on although did see some decent L4 and L3s.  My other half had a couple of pretty disappointing lessons.  

 

Perhaps some kind marketplace for ski teaching could help standards on the hill...


You are correct in your observations.  North American pros make no where near the money of our European cousins.  The main reason for this, is the ski areas (despite them not even owning the land in most cases) are granted exclusive rights to all commercial activity on it.  Its why you dont see multiple restraunts, or competing ski schools.  The resorts set up, run, and take all.

 

As a result ski instructing simply doesnt pay enough for most people to make a living doing it.  That is not to say its impossible, it can be done...but it almost always involves some form of outside income or assets.  

 

 

Whistler in particular where I have taught since 1990, has cut and cut and cut its remuneration package to instructors.  Many instructors make less today in real dollars then they did in the late 90s.

 

One way to make this better, is to educate the public on instructor levels.  The price for a private lesson from a L1 with 3 part-time seasons of experience is the same price for a L4 with 25 years experience.  People should ask for minimum cert levels - this will improve the supply demand curves in the instructor's favour, AND ensure the public gets better value for its money.

post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

 

....I continually am amazed at how many people in my ski club who take seasonal lessons think the program is great and their instructor is wonderful.  But they can't tell me anything they've learned, nor how their skiing is changing.  I had a seasoned instructor once tell me that the most important thing that made lesson-takers happy was a people to ski with, sunny good conditions day.  Second was feeling safe.  A distant third was learning something.

True.

 

 

Skiing is a social sport, not sure why its surprising people take lessons for the social aspect.  Particularily people who take season long lesson programs...they are doing it to meet new people, have "ski friends", cut lift line, get shown some new areas to ski....get a few tips here and there...but mostly its for the social aspect.  Nothing wrong with that....I had a woman years ago, tell me straight up "I am 52, too young to be single, too old for bars or internet dating....I am here for to find a man."  I loved her!  She was awesome.  Great skier, easily fit in the top group (L6)...but during the morning line up, if she saw a "prospect" she would hang back, find out what level group he was in (ie perhaps L4)....then she would come tell me "I am gonna be a L4 today"biggrin.gif.

post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthias99 View Post

 

In theory the state or federal government (as appropriate) could put restrictions like this on resorts using public land when they make or renew leases.  I'm guessing it would be harder to find lessees for ski areas if they were not promised monopolies on commercial activity like food+clothing sales, ski instruction, etc.  They certainly wouldn't pay as much, and licensing the independent contractors would be a pain.

 

 

This would certainly be the argument...but in no way do I believe it would be true.  Its just like bar owners saying they will go bankrupt if smoking is banned in doors.  What happened in reality?  Profits increased, as non-smokers started showing up, and spending more time there...smokers had less cigarettes, meaning more money for drinks.

 

What will happen in skiing?  Better insturctors, better lessons, leading to more satisfied customers, leading to more lessons, leading more satisfied skiers, meaning more skiing days, and everyone would win.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthias99 View Post

 

Who defines "above beginner" and the type and amount of certification that are required?

 

I suppose an organization like NSAA could try to push a standard like this (or PSIA for its member ski schools), but IMO trying to do this on a national or even state level by law would be fairly intrusive.  If there was a rash of people being hurt by incompetent instructors, or consumer complaints about ski schools, I could maybe see legal standards being looked at.  But I think that trying to regulate ski lesson quality by legislative fiat is not a good approach in general.

 

Why would this be so hard?  We have standards for just about everything else...ISIA and many European countries have these standards, and takes these standards very seriously.

post #13 of 25
I inquired about getting a lesson from a PMTS instructor at a certain CO mountain, and was told it was impossible, as they knew who they were and ran them off.

How could a resort legally run two people off who had paid for lift tickets?
I'm assuming there is small print some where. Otherwise I'd like to challenge that in a legal setting, if I had the time and money.
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

The price for a private lesson from a L1 with 3 part-time seasons of experience is the same price for a L4 with 25 years experience.  People should ask for minimum cert levels - this will improve the supply demand curves in the instructor's favour, AND ensure the public gets better value for its money.

 

Have to quote this. So true.

post #15 of 25
Quote:
What will happen in skiing [if resorts are forced to allow competition in ski instruction]?  Better insturctors, better lessons, leading to more satisfied customers, leading to more lessons, leading more satisfied skiers, meaning more skiing days, and everyone would win.

 

If it was so obvious that having better instructors directly led to more money being spent at the resort they would be doing that already.  Note that "more skiing days" isn't necessarily the goal for a resort, at least in the short term.  I do think that investing in the ski school is something that can help with guest retention in the long run, but this is harder to show in the bottom line.

 

I think it does make some sense to ask that resorts on public land open up to competing commercial activities like independent ski instructors.  Or they could bid out the lift ops, ski school, and other concessions separately rather than bundling it as one package.  Maybe this would help in some cases, if a resort feels it doesn't have much local competition and thus can act like a monopoly.  In areas with a lot of comparable resorts I doubt it would make much difference.

 

Quote:
Why would [mandating something WRT instructor experience levels for lessons] be so hard?  We have standards for just about everything else...ISIA and many European countries have these standards, and takes these standards very seriously.

 

Sorry if this becomes totally rambling.

 

A lot of people would argue we have too many intrusive regulations and standards already.  IMO a hands-on government approach is needed in some areas, but this is not one of them.  It's one thing to demand that, say, car companies include seatbelts and airbags and antilock brakes and meet crash test standards when tens of thousands of people die in car crashes every year.  It's another to demand that lessons for recreational activities be tightly regulated because some people feel they're not up to snuff or that ski instructors aren't being paid enough.

 

It sounds easy to do this, but the devil is in the details.  Who sets the standards?  What level of qualification/certification is needed?  Does it vary based on the student's "level"?  If so, who decides the definitions of the "levels" and what "level" the student is?  Does it have to be PSIA certification, or does it have to be something else (say, PMTS)?  If you legislatively say that all instructors must be PSIA certified, you're basically giving them a monopoly on ski instruction in the US... and good luck getting everyone to agree on an independent standard imposed from on high.

 

Trying to mandate legally that ski instructors don't suck is a bad approach.  There are some lousy instructors with all the certification you can get, and some great ones that don't have any official badges.  There is enough choice in the market that people can generally vote with their wallets and/or feet (and skis).

 

Yes, it's hard to make a good living as a full-time ski instructor in the US, even ignoring seasonal factors.  (It's hard to make a living on anything you do only four months a year.)  It's a relatively fun job that doesn't require a lot of formal education, and lots of people want to do it.  It's hard -- really hard -- to be a great instructor or coach, but not that hard to be a halfway decent one.  And a lot of customers aren't willing to pay for the price difference between "great" and "decent".  Hell, a lot of people are fine being terminal intermediates and wouldn't necessarily want "great" lessons even if they were free.  So unless you're so awesome that you're constantly booked for private lessons and camps or clinics -- and there are only so many of these to go around -- you're relatively easily replaceable and therefore not worth that much.

 

A resort that develops a reputation as having a lousy ski school is leaving money on the table.  Nothing is stopping ski resorts from paying instructors more and requiring more uniform certification and training.  If the market will pay more for better and/or 'better certified' instruction, they'll make more money doing this.

 

Nothing is stopping PSIA from becoming a union and trying to collectively bargain for better wages and that ski schools that employ PSIA members become 'closed shops'.  I suspect many resorts would balk, as would many experienced instructors who don't want PSIA certification for one reason or another.

 

Nothing is stopping the instructors at a particular resort from forming a union and demanding better wages.  Again, I suspect many resorts would balk.

 

If the free market won't support those sorts of changes then mandating them is a bad idea IMO.

post #16 of 25

Competition doesn't always drive the standard of instruction up, as a lot of the time students don't know what a good lesson is and will go for the cheapest price. Here in Hirafu it's pretty much a free for all in terms of ski schools, there's maybe 20 of some sort in town, and only a few of them bother employing decent instructors. At the moment it is Chinese new year (BUSY), and anyone who says they are an instructor can sell themselves very easily, some shocking teaching going on. In contrast, where I work in Chile is pretty much a monopoly (private instructors and camps are allowed, but only one actual school) and the standard of instruction is really high, lots of demo teamers, examiners full certs etc. I would say that some sort of controlled competition with a minimum certification level is probably the best way to go for both instructors and clients, but it would be hard to convince mountains that that would be in their interest, and I'm not certain it is. 

post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by WC68 View Post

How could a resort legally run two people off who had paid for lift tickets?
I'm assuming there is small print some where. Otherwise I'd like to challenge that in a legal setting, if I had the time and money.

This has been beat to death before. You'd be wasting your time and money.

 

Imagine going to a Denver Broncos game and paying for parking. The parking ticket has no fine print saying you can't park your food truck there AND sell food. but if you do you will get told to leave anyway. Now say you wanted to park your food truck on a public street right outside the entrance to the parking lot. Some cop comes along and tells you to move because parking has been eliminated to improve traffic flow. Your not going to win that one either.

 

If you want to change things in the ski business, get involved and learn how and why things work the way they do. Some people try without doing this and are successful. Most who try without knowing about the business lose their shirt.

 

The short answer to your question is that a private property owner can run a business (subject to government permits) any way they want without publishing all of their rules. Resorts on public property in the US typically operate under a permit that grants them exclusive rights to commercial activities on the permitted property.

post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

 

Why would this be so hard?  We have standards for just about everything else...ISIA and many European countries have these standards, and takes these standards very seriously.

Why is herding cats so hard? PSIA is an ISIA member and does not follow their standards. All of the Euro countries do not operate under the same common standard.

post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

 

One way to make this better, is to educate the public on instructor levels. 

The membership of PSIA-E has spoken exactly this sentiment to their leadership. We are now pushing the national leadership to do more in this area. In the meantime instruction participation in online forums and other media is attempting to do this at a grass roots level.

post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post


You are correct in your observations.  North American pros make no where near the money of our European cousins.  The main reason for this, is the ski areas (despite them not even owning the land in most cases) are granted exclusive rights to all commercial activity on it.  Its why you dont see multiple restraunts, or competing ski schools.  The resorts set up, run, and take all.

 

As a result ski instructing simply doesnt pay enough for most people to make a living doing it.  That is not to say its impossible, it can be done...but it almost always involves some form of outside income or assets.  

 

 

Whistler in particular where I have taught since 1990, has cut and cut and cut its remuneration package to instructors.  Many instructors make less today in real dollars then they did in the late 90s.

 

One way to make this better, is to educate the public on instructor levels.  The price for a private lesson from a L1 with 3 part-time seasons of experience is the same price for a L4 with 25 years experience.  People should ask for minimum cert levels - this will improve the supply demand curves in the instructor's favour, AND ensure the public gets better value for its money.

 

Feb 11, 2013

 

Hi SD72:

 

I've enjoyed reading your post, both for the technical aspect (I think you are probably one of the most highly qualified Coaches participating in this forum, among others) as well as your usual common sensual even handed outlook.

 

However, for the short paragraph outlined in red above, since the Ski Resorts have exclusive right to ALL commercial activity on the resort grounds, what's to stop them from having a "tiered" group lesson fee structure without "adjusting" the upper tier coachs' compensation proportionally?  Maybe, the public would gain, but I'm not sure about the coaches.  Just a thought.  "Workers of the World Unite, You have nothing to lose but your chains".  (Opps, wrong day i.e. not May 1, and wrong forum i.e. not Pravdawink.gif).

 

Actually, I've commented about the "compensation" which PSIA instructors receive in another thread as one of the reasons for the differences in professionalism between PSIA and the Ecole de Ski for example. Didn't go over too well, with "les miserables" describing the life of a PSIA coach being injected sort of cynically. 

 

Think snow,

 

CP

 

ps: in the interest of complete disclosure, I'm not and never have been associated with PSIA.  I'm a consumer of it's services, as well as the services of CSIA.

 

pps: I don't know if it is still true now, but I skied with a Coach who use to coach at Steven's Pass many years ago and she said there were several ski schools operating out of Steven's Pass when she was coaching there.  She worked for a independent ski school not associated with the mountain.  However, I can't comment on how that system worked.


Edited by CharlieP - 2/11/13 at 12:52pm
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

What will happen in skiing?  

 

There are lots of theories for what will happen in skiing if the USFS service changed the permit rules to allow competition for ski schools. Assuming that resorts assume that competition will reduce their profits (e.g. x% of lessons taught by competitors are lost lessons), here are some short term reaction theories:

1) Resorts raise prices to make up for lost school revenue (pay for parking, snowmaking surcharge, $120 lift tickets?)

2) Resorts will demand a reduction in the operating fees they pay

3) Resorts will cut costs to make up for lost profits (e.g. reduce staff, reduce snow making, reduce investment)

4) Resorts will simply do nothing and accept lower profits

5) Resorts will drop lesson prices temporarily to drive new competitors out of business

6) Resorts will raise prices on lessons, cut staff and focus on high end lesson products. (e.g. walk away from beginner group lessons and let  competitor schools do the beginner lesson market)

7) Resorts will cap instructor pay and walk away from higher level lessons (competitor schools would not be able to compete against bundled lesson/lift/rental products).

8) Resorts will use the legal/political process to thwart this effort.

9) Resorts will increase instructor pay by a factor of 8 (to make wages and benefit competitive with other professional careers) with so that the quality of their lesson product will be so superior that is immune to the competition.

10) Resorts will go out of business.

 

In theory, competition makes a market healthier in the long run. In practice, forcing competition into a market is an exercise in unintended consequences. Getting from "here" to "there" is no sure thing.

 

But this is all a moot point. A few years back I talked to the USFS guy responsible for ski resort permitting in Colorado. He said that they have concluded that competition between resorts for ski school products is sufficient. It will take a either a massive change in consumer sentiment or a serious regime change in USFS to change this. I did not ask how often the permits come up for renewal, but a change like this would need to be coordinated to hit all resorts at the same time. Even if they wanted to do this it would be a massive (i.e. costly) undertaking. 

 

What is the difference between ski school competition and the "premium lesson"/"camp" offerings of some resorts (e.g. Aspen, Hunter, NASTC). If these are the models, then why haven't they driven regular ski school out of business? Why did Hunter close their concession ski school? Are the concession schools in the Pacific Northwest still operating? What lessons can we learn from those operations?

 

If you want to see this happen, you've got a lot of challenges to overcome.The devil is in the details.

post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post

Why is herding cats so hard? PSIA is an ISIA member and does not follow their standards. All of the Euro countries do not operate under the same common standard.

 

Well yes...and no.  They have agreed "equivalancies"...

post #23 of 25

I think the public is generally unaware of PSIA and the different levels of certification.  If they were, I think they would be inclined to do what I do when I want to arrange a lesson at hill that is not my home - call the reservations desk and ask for a private with an L3.  It is not an ironclad guarantee of a superior product but it definately ups ones' chances.  And since the L3 had to study hard to get that pin, chances are very good that the product will be in line with PSIA standards.  I think PSIA is onto something putting pins on people like Glen Plake and raising awareness that the organization even exists.  I have heard the idea floated about PSIA rating snowsports schools based on ratio of certification levels, participation in educational events and so on.  I think that idea has merit.  The key would be getting word out to the public.  Lessons are expensive no matter what.  Crappy lessons are expensive to everybody - the customer, the industry, area management, and, in the long run, to the school that might have enjoyed a high margin sale today only to experience no sales at all in the future.

post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

 

Well yes...and no.  They have agreed "equivalancies"...

Exactly. Those equivalences either make sense or are a complete joke depending on what side of the "debate" you are on.

 

For example, ISIA says top level certs should be able to teach in multiple languages, have back country skills and teach in multiple disciplines. PSIA has none of that and no equivalencies. Or you could say that having one common language across a country as large as Europe makes the need for speaking a second language not as great and having less back country teaching going on because the appalachians and the rockies are different than the alps and the ability to teach snowboarding has nothing to do with teaching skiing... blah blah blah.

 

For example, PSIA has national standards for certs to apply to the divisions. The current wordings of those standards are so generic that they are effectively useless for ensuring that there is equivalence between division certifications. From my contacts with people with experience with other division certifications I've become aware of enough differences between the divisions to make me uncomfortable at the detail level (e.g. people going to a different division to take an easier test), but comfortable enough at "the end of the day" level that the certifications are equivalent. The certifications are equivalent enough to say to the public that a L3 cert is very likely to give you a top quality experience. But they are not equivalent enough to say "good enough". We can do better. I'm happy to see some very spirited debate currently going on that is attempting to get us to better. That the standards are close enough to argue about change instead of mandate change is one view point. That the standards are far enough apart to argue about and still not reach exact consensus at the end of the day is another.

post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

....I continually am amazed at how many people in my ski club who take seasonal lessons think the program is great and their instructor is wonderful.  But they can't tell me anything they've learned, nor how their skiing is changing.  I had a seasoned instructor once tell me that the most important thing that made lesson-takers happy was a sunny day.  Second was feeling safe.  A distant third was learning something.

 

I have a story about that... I was a volunteer guide last week at Winterpride in Whistler. My guests always have a blast, I get to meet new people to show them the mountain, and I get a few nice perks too. I'm not allowed to teach, and a few other guides are also instructors. 

 

A group of the guys booked a private lesson with one of the guide/instructors for a day, based on the fun they had being guided. All but one of the guys raved about how great the session was. But the other participant was livid with the lesson. My guidee wanted to get lots of development; the rest of the group just wanted to rip around the mountain and play around without much feedback (other than "turn! turn!"). So people go in with different expectations. I'm starting to think a lot of people imagine they'll get better just through osmosis, without specific assessment and development... 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthias99 View Post
...

Trying to mandate legally that ski instructors don't suck is a bad approach.  There are some lousy instructors with all the certification you can get, and some great ones that don't have any official badges.  There is enough choice in the market that people can generally vote with their wallets and/or feet (and skis).

...

A resort that develops a reputation as having a lousy ski school is leaving money on the table.  Nothing is stopping ski resorts from paying instructors more and requiring more uniform certification and training.  If the market will pay more for better and/or 'better certified' instruction, they'll make more money doing this.

 

Nothing is stopping PSIA from becoming a union and trying to collectively bargain for better wages and that ski schools that employ PSIA members become 'closed shops'.  I suspect many resorts would balk, as would many experienced instructors who don't want PSIA certification for one reason or another.

 

Nothing is stopping the instructors at a particular resort from forming a union and demanding better wages.  Again, I suspect many resorts would balk.

 

Lots of good points, Matthias. We can't mandate "don't suck". On the other hand, it does become harder to suck at the L3 and L4 standards. (I would agree that instructors even at higher cert levels can get lazy or demotivated. Everyone's human.)

 

Regarding lousy ski schools, the bar is so low that I don't think the public expects anything more. 

 

Unionization via PSIA, if it's anything like the CSIA, will never happen. The instructor organizations are bedfellows with the ski resort megacorporations. Do unions work in industries with high turnover? 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

One way to make this better, is to educate the public on instructor levels.  The price for a private lesson from a L1 with 3 part-time seasons of experience is the same price for a L4 with 25 years experience.  People should ask for minimum cert levels - this will improve the supply demand curves in the instructor's favour, AND ensure the public gets better value for its money.

 

It's a funny situation at Whistler. There's a flock of "private" instructors milling about the bottom of the mountain every morning, hoping to pick up a lesson. Meanwhile, the L4s and the good 3s (and even some 2s) are mostly pre-booked. It surprises me WB will accept privates instructors at level 1+2. If I were a consumer, I would definitely not go with an instructor available for a walk-up.

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