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Ski/Ride Instruction Beginner Course - question on typical schedules

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello Everyone! I am contacting you from the American University of Armenia (www.aua.am) in the Republic of Armenia with a question about the typical beginner ski/ride course schedule. I coordinate the physical education courses, and we have been approached by a local ski club offering a course to students for next semester. Their course program consists of four 2-3 hour lessons:


Lesson 1 - Adaptation process & first skiing experience

Lesson 2 - Plow position, Left & Right turns

Lesson 3 - Parallel skiing

Lesson 4 - Gates

Lesson 5 - Competition


Now, I am a recreational skier going on 20 seasons or so, and this seems to be a bit of an ambitious program for complete beginners, but I'm not an instructor. That is why I am contacting you ... I am meeting with the club rep tomorrow to discuss the course, and would like to hear from you what a typical beginners course would entail ... how many lessons, lesson layout, hours per lesson, classroom/theory/video instruction, etc.




Nick Bruno


PS: I am from Edinboro, PA and have mainly skied in the eastern US, but also have skied in Kazakhstan, the Republic of Georgia, and of course Armenia :-)

post #2 of 7

I'm not saying that the progression there is impossible, but it is definitely unlikely. The biggest problem with this is that skill progression from one lesson to the next is completely individual. One skier may be able to ski intermediate slopes in parallel by the end of their first lesson. Other students may take 10 lessons to figure out how to confidently stop and turn. So any lessons that say "lesson 1 is this, then lesson 2 is this" is basically flawed. In reality, lesson one is something, and then subsequent lessons pick up where the last lesson left off. Wherever that is. 


The other thing is, going from never ever to "gates" and "competition" in any way that resembles actual racing is pretty much impossible. I'm sure there are one in million type people who could possibly pick up the skills that quickly, but its highly unlikely. On the other hand, I wonder what their definition of "gates" and "competition" are. We use brush gates and stub gates with little kids learning to turn all the time. Sure they're gates, but they're not what most people think of when they use that word. So maybe clarifying what "gates" and "competition" mean. 


I would say that if this ski club is offering their services for free, go for it. Nothing to lose. However, if they are charging for their services, I would be very hesitant to work with them, as I don't see how a legitimate instruction program would lay out a "schedule" like that. 


A typical beginner progression is done pretty much on snow. There isn't classroom time, there isn't video analysis that early in the process. Some of the orientation to equipment may happen indoors at the very beginning. Maybe 30 minutes or so. But from that point, it is on snow instruction. As far as how many lessons and how long, that is something that is entirely dependent upon the individual. There is no program that says you take X amount of lessons for Y hours each lesson, and you will end up at Z skill level. No legitimate program, at least. 

post #3 of 7

բարեւ Ձեզ (barev dzez) Nick and welcome to Epic Ski!


I see there is only one ski resort in Armenia on Mount Teghenis near the town of Tsaghkadzor and they do offer ski instruction on an hourly basis. The first thing that comes to my mind after this tiny bit of research is that things are going to be different in Armenia than they are in the US. So the common advice here to only get professional instruction instead of instruction from friends and others who don't teach on a regular basis probably needs to be watered down a bit. My first question to the ski club guy would be what experience do they have teaching new skiers? My second question would be what the safety plan is.


We do have a few resorts in the US who incorporate some indoor time into teaching beginners to ski. Most resorts can get most never evers to ski their first run within 1-4 hours without any indoor time. A lot depends on the layout of the mountain. It's hard to tell what is available for sure, but it looks like first timers will use a rope tow starting at the main lodge (but one needs to ride a lift to get to the main lodge?). My first suggestion is to review the suggested logistics for first timers in great detail.


You have not mentioned whether this will be a club activity (where fun should be the priority) or a physical education type course activity (should skill development and exercise ever be a higher priority than fun?) for the university. As a club activity, 4-6 lessons should be fine. As a course activity you could easily go to a 9-10 week program to match up with a school calendar. My resort used to run a 6 pack lesson program. We had quite a few people go through that program starting with no experience. While most people stayed in the same class group from week to week advancing at the same rate from level to level, some people did progress to higher levels faster. You need to match up how many people you will have in this program versus how many instructors they have available. Can we assume we are talking about young adults in the 18-21 age group? Teaching people of different abilities in the same group is (cough) "a challenge". If there are limited instructors and different groups of abilities it may be possible to teach the lesser skilled ones first for 2 hours, then let them practice on their own while the more advanced ones are taught.


In the US, many resorts have modern gear for rent to beginners that allows for varying instructional approaches. One of those approaches is teaching beginners parallel from day one. I doubt that is going to be an option for you. If the gear is as I suspect, and the instruction is as I suspect, my guess is that the odds of being able to parallel ski in the first season is less than 10% and the odds of getting there after 2 lessons is more like .1%. Getting people to make parallel finishes to their turns after the third lesson is probably doable. And if "gates" means bamboo (or better yet the equivalent of brushie - e.g. a tennis ball cut in half) set in an easier than Nastar layout on an easier than Nastar slope, then that too is doable for a fourth lesson and having a competition for a fifth lesson sounds like fun. My preference though would be for a more US typical "level" offering of lessons where

1) first time - learn about the gear, how to walk around on the flats, straight run, wedge, turn right and left, stop and ride the lift

2) focus on fixing problems with right or left turns and linking turns

3) increase speed of linked turns and wedge christie (parallel finish)

4) increase pitch of slope and match skis earlier in the turn

5) parallel turns

Note that most skiers will need repeat lessons at the higher levels. The idea is that people progress through these levels at their own rates.

post #4 of 7
Those are pretty long lessons for beginners. 2-3 hours? You also say it's four lessons, but then you list five?

I think three hours on the first day, especially if it's on snow time as opposed to inside gear or theory explanations, might be a bit much. On the other hand, getting to parallel after nine hours is optimistic. Are the students going to be practicing the days between lessons, maybe? That would be a requirement, in my opinion.
post #5 of 7

I used to teach 3-hour never-ever lessons to adults.  They will tire out in 3 hours on snow.  Give them breaks!  They will be working much harder than the instructors.

post #6 of 7
I would be interested in hearing about success rates for that plan and what methods they are using.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the comments and greeting! I met with the main instructor on Tuesday to clarify some details. The main instructor has 30 years of experience and there will be 5 instructors in total with a max of 4 students each. Here is the course syllabus they sent me. I'll talk with them again on Monday ... comments welcome.


Days of the week: Saturday & Sunday

Classes duration: 2-2.5 hours

Maximum number of students per day: 20

Deadline to register for the class: Dec. 10

Venue: Tsaghkadzor


What do we offer?

Ski classes for beginners & intermediate level skiers by professional instructors. The classes are organized by Port Ayas team.


Our Aim

-To increase the interest in skiing as a winter sport in Armenia

-To promote healthy lifestyle among young people.

-To encourage students to challenge their limits, try new sports and techniques, overcome physical and psychological obstacles, engage in extracurricular sports activities and explore their interest and potential in sports and enhance life-long wellness


Ski Class per person per class - $38 (includes only the class)
Total classes 12 (1 is free)- 11x38 = $418 per person for the entire course. 
Additional expences:
Transportation (Yerevan-Tsaghkadzor-Yerevan) - $6 per person
Ski Equipment rent pp per class - $12
Helmet - $6
Ski pass - $14 (for half day), also possible to buy per lift ride for $4







Lesson Activities



1 hour

Importance of skiing, safety measures

Information about skiing, skiing techniques, its benefits & safety rules. Presentation & video materials.

Explaining the importance of knowing how to ski & following the rules of safety carefully.

Getting to know the instructors, watching related videos, Q&A



2.5 hours

Ski equipment usage guidelines & first steps with skis.

Learning how to use the ski equipment & how to ski (first steps)

Stepping up the hill in two different ways, first moves, sliding down the hill

Wearing ski equipment correctly & experiencing the first steps with skis. 



2.5 hours

Safe falling techniques, changing direction by steps, sliding & turning

Learning how to fall & get up safely, how to change direction by steps, slide & turn

Exercises on the related topics of the class. Free Skiing time



2.5 hours

Rounded turns, braking exercises, big radius turns

Learning how to do rounded turns to control the speed, practicing braking exercises & big radius turns

Exercises to practice the topics of the class & free skiing time.



2.5 hours

Turn shape, introduction of angular position and sharp turns

Learning about turn shapes, information about angular position & sharp turns

Practicing gained knowledge. relevant exercises.



2.5 hours

Edging technique

Learning how to adjust the edge angle of the skis in relation to the snow.

Practice the edging technique, relevant exercises. Free skiing time.



2.5 hours

Several turn cascades, hillock & rugged terrain passing techniques

Learning the techniques of skiing on hillocks & passing rugged terrains.

Practicing gained knowledge.



2.5 hours

Skiing in powder snow

Learning tips & trick for skiing in powder snow

Theoretcal or practical based on the weather. Free time skiing.



2.5 hours

Skiing on icy terrain

Learning the techniques & safety rules of skiing on icy terrain.

Practicing the knowledge. Free time skiing.



2.5 hours

Parallel turns

Learning how to keep skis parallel to each other throughout each turn.

Practicing parallel turns.



2.5 hours

Shortening the traverse






2.5 hours

Gate crossing

Gate crossing techniques

Practice & exercises

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