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Skier's code during instruction...

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

It's been a while since I've had a formal lesson, I have friends who are instructors who I'll ride with and I'll ask for critiques etc, but I have a question for the instructors. First though, I'll present the scenario that took place today.

 

While skiing with my wife on the steeper part of a blue run, I notice and instructor with a child of about 12 or 13 working their way down the run.  There is a large knuckle in the run with a pretty good pitch afterwards that is ALWAYS a sheet of glass.  My wife and I pass the instructor and instructee (who has his mother in tow for encouragement I assume) and we stop on the shoulder of the run.  The kid takes a spill, and really it was only a matter of time, he was nowhere near ready to be on that run, and my wife and I ski past.  The instructor skis past the kid to the flat part of the run, and the kid gets up and is all french fry and no pizza directly into my wife, wiping her out, she never saw him coming.  The kid gets up and takes off and the instructor, the kid, and his mother proceed on down the run to the lift with nary an acknowledgment nor an apology.

 

Accidents happen, bad decisions are made, no big deal. If it weren't for the instructor present I wouldn't have been nearly as pissed as I was, as it would have been the kid's misguided decision to choose a trail that was too advanced for him rather than the instructor either encouraging it, or in the least agreeing to it. My wife and I made it to the lift line and I approached the kid and his mother, and first made sure he was ok from his falls, then gave him a quick run-down of how it's his responsibility to "look out below" and so on.  The mother thanked me for checking on him and letting him know that and sort of looked at the instructor as to say "why haven't you said this?"

 

Please tell me this isn't typical and that instructors working with first timers or progressing skiers/boarders take the time to teach the rules of the game?  Is teaching the "skier's code" part of the curriculum for the group lessons?  Or is it something that is assumed will be learned?

post #2 of 11

There might be many reasons for the instructor taking the kid on that run. Lets not get into that. But there is really no excuse for acting like he did. Not checking up on your wife and apologizing properly. But I'm not surprised at all. Not long ago we discussed here on this forum what would be the best qualifications for a good instructor. Most taught it was great skiing skills. There you have it. The instructor was a probably an awesome skier. Hope that comforts you and your wife.

post #3 of 11

Gibmon323,

 

I believe your thoughts on this are spot on and the instructor in this case should have checked with your wife to insure she was unhurt and use this incident, at the very least, as a learning opportunity for his/her student to explain the protocol and skier responsibilities.  I believe you handled the incident very well as well.  Perhaps a visit to the ski school office or supervisor to let them know what occurred would have been prudent as well.  Fortunately, most instructors I know would have handled this better.

post #4 of 11

It's inexcusable for that instructor to not check on your wife, even if it involved walking up the hill to her.

 

That said, lots of stuff happens in lessons.  There are many things for an instructor to take into consideration.  

The presence of the mom hovering might have been complicating the lesson and causing the instructor to overlook stuff he might otherwise have handled differently.  Perhaps on a good day he would have acted differently.  Or perhaps not.

 

Still, he gave up the teachable moment for his student by not having the kid apologize.  

He gets a personal F on "common decency" for not checking on your wife himself.  

He lowered the reputation of his ski school and the mountain he represents as far as you two go.

post #5 of 11

Gibmon323, that was an absolute fail on that instructor. The 1st job of an instructor is safety, fun and learning are a distant 2nd and 3rd respectively. As an instructor I am responsible for everyone of my guests when they are in a lesson. If I have over terrained them ( which I have) I have to find a way to get them through that area for their safety as well as the general public's safety. If I go too far down a trail and cannot manage the situation then I fail. Everyone should be taught the code of conduct. Relying on it on the back of the ticket or signs through out the lodge or resort is but one small part. The "code " should be reinforced through out the lesson especially as you referenced right after that accident. You should not hesitate to talk to the Snowsports management about this.

post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post


. Not long ago we discussed here on this forum what would be the best qualifications for a good instructor. Most taught it was great skiing skills. There you have it. The instructor was a probably an awesome skier. Hope that comforts you and your wife.

Liked the first part of your post and agree completely, but the second bit above is most certainly NOT factual in the US. Dunno... maybe this is the case in Finland? Some new instructors do in fact bring excellent skill sets to the job and they will work on their teaching. Thats OK because they have displayed to the school that they WANT to teach. Ski schools hire first for their ability to communicate and then teach them to ski. Rhetorical slagging of an entire group based on one incident? Not particularly useful unless there are chips on the shoulder and axes to grind. Hopefully this isn't the case.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowbowler View Post
 

Gibmon323, that was an absolute fail on that instructor. The 1st job of an instructor is safety, fun and learning are a distant 2nd and 3rd respectively. As an instructor I am responsible for everyone of my guests when they are in a lesson. If I have over terrained them ( which I have) I have to find a way to get them through that area for their safety as well as the general public's safety. If I go too far down a trail and cannot manage the situation then I fail. Everyone should be taught the code of conduct. Relying on it on the back of the ticket or signs through out the lodge or resort is but one small part. The "code " should be reinforced through out the lesson especially as you referenced right after that accident. You should not hesitate to talk to the Snowsports management about this.

It's obvious that my first thoughts were correct, that the instructor failed here.  I know the ski school director and I mentioned it to him in passing, I'm not out to get anyone fired, and I agree with LiquidFeet that the hovering mother probably didn't help, but I guess my question now would be ...is learning the "skier's code" part of the lesson?  I mean is it a distinct part of the curriculum?  As a child I went to 98232837492384 golf camps because my dad was a golf nut and we all had to go.  I loved it don't get me wrong, but a huge part of almost all of these camps was learning "proper etiquette" on the course...essentially golf's version of the skier's code.  These aren't rules as golf rules go, but a set of courtesies you either perform or absolutely don't do in order to make your game and the game of others more enjoyable and fair.  If the "skier's code" is not part of the teaching curriculum, is it feasible to think that it should be?  Could the first 5 or so minutes of each lesson be set aside to go over that?  Maybe I'm dreaming of ski utopia here, but knowledge in this sense equals safety...or at least I would think so. Thoughts?

post #8 of 11
The skier's code is most certainly part of every lesson every day that I've ever taught. Ski school management hammers on it, so no, your utopia is standard practice at many schools. In our state, 'hit and run' on skis is treated with the same legal seriousness as an automobile H&R.

That said, kids being kids, the occasionally do dumb things... One of my kids cut off a guy at the lift line entry... He did some pretty amazing gymnastics to avoid her. I apologized to him and explained carefully to my student why she needed to be very careful about quick lateral moves in congested areas. She got it. he got it. All's well... Teachable moment wins.

Sorry to hear about your experience. Absolutely inform the school. They'll want to know so they can correct and educate.
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gibmon323 View Post
 

It's obvious that my first thoughts were correct, that the instructor failed here.  I know the ski school director and I mentioned it to him in passing, I'm not out to get anyone fired, and I agree with LiquidFeet that the hovering mother probably didn't help, but I guess my question now would be ...is learning the "skier's code" part of the lesson?  I mean is it a distinct part of the curriculum?  As a child I went to 98232837492384 golf camps because my dad was a golf nut and we all had to go.  I loved it don't get me wrong, but a huge part of almost all of these camps was learning "proper etiquette" on the course...essentially golf's version of the skier's code.  These aren't rules as golf rules go, but a set of courtesies you either perform or absolutely don't do in order to make your game and the game of others more enjoyable and fair.  If the "skier's code" is not part of the teaching curriculum, is it feasible to think that it should be?  Could the first 5 or so minutes of each lesson be set aside to go over that?  Maybe I'm dreaming of ski utopia here, but knowledge in this sense equals safety...or at least I would think so. Thoughts?


When I'm out with lessons at the beginner phase talk right about skiing/riding under control even in the flat areas. As we move to lift talk about knowing how to ride the lifts, follow the signs etc. Up on the hill stop and point out trail intersections, who has right of way, merging. Stop on side of trail where we can be seen and discuss why. Point out knolls, lips, drops where one can't be seen and why we stay away from those areas when we stop. When out with little rippers and jumpers we talk about smart style stuff with regards to scoping out jumps and landings, etiquette for doing jumps and hits, need for spotters etc. Talk about trail signage and green/blue/black designations and what they mean , especially with regard to skiing on greens that have beginners and crowds on them. If I just spent 5 minutes before a lesson talking from a list of things no one would really get it, just blah, blah blah but showing it in real time/ world perspective maybe it starts to sink in. We try to use this method at the Middlebury Snow Bowl, like probably every place else some times things do fall through the cracks.

post #10 of 11

Ha ha, I got run over by an instructor and her instinct was to try to blame it on me. I even apologized. But the more I thought about it, it was 100% her fault. I was the downhill skier and she plowed into me from behind. It was even more blatant than Red vs. Gray. So I guess my take is that not all instructors have even read the code.

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gibmon323 View Post

 

Please tell me this isn't typical and that instructors working with first timers or progressing skiers/boarders take the time to teach the rules of the game?  Is teaching the "skier's code" part of the curriculum for the group lessons?  Or is it something that is assumed will be learned?

It is strongly encouraged to be part of the curriculum where I teach but exactly how/when it is introduced is mostly left up to the individual instructors.  I can't imagine any of the instructors I work with acting like the one you described...safety is discussed at almost every on snow training/clinic I have every been part of and is an important part of PSIA cert exams.  I do feel that I work with some of the best in the industry, so I can't speak of what goes on at other resorts.

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