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Instructors free skiing - in uniform or not? (split from clinic thread)

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by yogaman View Post
 

The mountain where I teach  PT, we get up to 2 one hour paid clinics per week.  There must be at least 5 instructors in the group to call it a clinic.   I'm sure we are covered WC during a clinic because we are getting paid.    There was a short time after one of our instructors tried to claim WC injury after doing something stupid in a ski school jacket while free skiing and seriously injuring his shoulder that the ski school didn't let us free ski in our jackets.  That didn't last long.  Now we are back to skiing free skiing in our jackets.  YM

 

My question, why would you want to free ski in your uniform? The uniform is far more of a burden than anything else, IMO. You are instantly identifiable as a mountain employee, which means your code of conduct has to be consistent with the mountain employee code. I don't know about you, but I have been known to employ some salty language at times while i'm skiing, especially when with other instructor friends. Also, I may at times bend some rules on the mountain. You know, the ones that are in place for the average joe to not do something stupid, but which someone on the mountain who knows their stuff can pull off without risk. If I'm in my uni jacket, I can't do that. Further, when you're in uniform, you are opening yourself up to having people approach you to ask questions, seek help, etc. At my mountain, if you're approached by a guest while in jacket, you help that guest through their whole issue, unless you're actively engaged with another task, like a class. 

 

I just don's see the advantage to skiing in uniform. Much better to be another anonymous face in the crowd. 

post #2 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post
 

 

My question, why would you want to free ski in your uniform? The uniform is far more of a burden than anything else, IMO. You are instantly identifiable as a mountain employee, which means your code of conduct has to be consistent with the mountain employee code. I don't know about you, but I have been known to employ some salty language at times while i'm skiing, especially when with other instructor friends. Also, I may at times bend some rules on the mountain. You know, the ones that are in place for the average joe to not do something stupid, but which someone on the mountain who knows their stuff can pull off without risk. If I'm in my uni jacket, I can't do that. Further, when you're in uniform, you are opening yourself up to having people approach you to ask questions, seek help, etc. At my mountain, if you're approached by a guest while in jacket, you help that guest through their whole issue, unless you're actively engaged with another task, like a class. 

 

I just don's see the advantage to skiing in uniform. Much better to be another anonymous face in the crowd. 

I can think of at least three reasons that skiing in the jacket are beneficial.   First, a strong visible presence  of good skiers on the mountain may help attract skiers to ski school for lessons.  Secondly,  being in the jacket does often encourage the public to ask questions about the mountain expecting that I do represent the mountain and can help.  If I were at a new mountain and needed a question answered I would specifically look for someone in uniform.  And thirdly, it takes time to go to the locker room before and after lineups to change jackets and badges.  Where I work we have lineups on the hour  6-7 times per day which doesn't give us much time if we want to go free ski.  Yes, there are also negatives.  We do have to be on our better behavior if we free ski in the jacket or parade around the lodge.  We certainly get a couple complaints every season at my ss of packs of instructors skiing "too" fast around the public.  If I visit another mountain I look for ss presence on the mountain.  I specifically look for instructors that catch my eye as exceptional skiers.  I also cringe when I see instructors who are not strong skiers even though I know these instructors are the ones teaching most of the newbies which limits the time I spend in the beginner area.   There are positives and negatives to this issue.   I find that each ss handles this  issue differently.  If I show up at my mountain to free ski for a day, I do not where my ss jacket but I do check in with the supervisors and let them know I'm around if I am needed.  I have found that the better I treat my supervisors the better they treat me with lesson assignments.   YM

post #3 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post
 

 

My question, why would you want to free ski in your uniform? The uniform is far more of a burden than anything else, IMO. You are instantly identifiable as a mountain employee, which means your code of conduct has to be consistent with the mountain employee code.

 

When I worked the jacket and name badge WAS our pass.  Weren't supposed to be allowed on the lifts without it.  And, we were subject to being paged at any given moment when free skiing if they knew we were there.  Might make for an awkward situation getting paged right after a safety meeting.

post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post
 

 

My question, why would you want to free ski in your uniform? The uniform is far more of a burden than anything else, IMO. You are instantly identifiable as a mountain employee, which means your code of conduct has to be consistent with the mountain employee code. I don't know about you, but I have been known to employ some salty language at times while i'm skiing, especially when with other instructor friends. Also, I may at times bend some rules on the mountain. You know, the ones that are in place for the average joe to not do something stupid, but which someone on the mountain who knows their stuff can pull off without risk. If I'm in my uni jacket, I can't do that. Further, when you're in uniform, you are opening yourself up to having people approach you to ask questions, seek help, etc. At my mountain, if you're approached by a guest while in jacket, you help that guest through their whole issue, unless you're actively engaged with another task, like a class. 

 

I just don's see the advantage to skiing in uniform. Much better to be another anonymous face in the crowd. 

For me, I find that having the jacket comes with a few benefits. There's been a few times where I've seen beginners shelping down a run that they have no business on, who have asked me for some pointers, which has then led to them requesting me for lesson. Also, if I'm by myself, it makes me easily identifiable to other instructors who might need help taking small children up the lift, which allows me to zip ahead of the line. Finally, as Yogaman mentioned, having to go to the car and change jackets takes time. 

post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post

 

My question, why would you want to free ski in your uniform?

 

You are instantly identifiable as a mountain employee, which means your code of conduct has to be consistent with the mountain employee code. I don't know about you, but I have been known to employ some salty language at times while i'm skiing, especially when with other instructor friends. Also, I may at times bend some rules on the mountain. You know, the ones that are in place for the average joe to not do something stupid, but which someone on the mountain who knows their stuff can pull off without risk. If I'm in my uni jacket, I can't do that. 

Hmm - when I'm in my jacket I can. Some rules are made to be broken. I've found that when your conduct is mostly more than what the code calls for, you get a free pass for bending the rules if you bend them smartly. Especially if you have a history of getting "caught" bending rules for the benefit of guests. It's hard for bosses to chew you out for bending a rule when you've saved their butt by bending other rules.

 

 

Quote:
Further, when you're in uniform, you are opening yourself up to having people approach you to ask questions, seek help, etc. At my mountain, if you're approached by a guest while in jacket, you help that guest through their whole issue, unless you're actively engaged with another task, like a class. 

 

At my mountain I teach other instructors how to spot guests who might have a problem and to approach them to offer help. This creates an entirely different guest experience not only for the guests that do need help, but also for guests who observe such behavior. Guests notice these things and greatly appreciate the difference. I can't tell you how many times I've been told how much nicer we are than the "other" resort. This can really suck when you have an hour to free ski before the next line up, spend 20 minutes in the lift line, then get asked to download with a guest who has a problem and then spend another 20 minutes assisting with that problem. But karma has a strange way of evening these things out (see above) when your priorities are in the right place.

 

Quote:
I just don's see the advantage to skiing in uniform. Much better to be another anonymous face in the crowd. 

 

Whether in uniform or not, people are a lot less anonymous than they might think. I suspect I'm about 95% accurate identifying plain clothed instructors, race team members and patrollers. I know patrollers who are just as good, Patrollers appreciate when instructors stop to offer assistance at accident scenes and help out in other ways. Last year I got caught by a patroller doing a job he was planning to do (breaking up a frozen section of the trail that was thawing out). He saved a half hour of his time because he saw me on the trail from the bottom, knew who I was and knew he could just talk to me on the chair ride up to verify he did not need to lap the run to do what I was doing.  Some people may wonder why I did not get in trouble for poaching 3 feet of fresh when then mountain was closed. Maybe it is just karma. My code of conduct is the same whether I'm in uniform or not, whether I'm working at my mountain or visiting another. It makes things a lot simpler when you consider helping people to be fun and you have a reputation for insanity to uphold.

post #6 of 13

mod note: by request this thread was started as a split off from the clinic thread.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyingFish View Post
 

For me, I find that having the jacket comes with a few benefits. There's been a few times where I've seen beginners shelping down a run that they have no business on, who have asked me for some pointers, which has then led to them requesting me for lesson. Also, if I'm by myself, it makes me easily identifiable to other instructors who might need help taking small children up the lift, which allows me to zip ahead of the line. Finally, as Yogaman mentioned, having to go to the car and change jackets takes time. 

 

I find that such outreach is just as effective, if not moreso when I'm out of uniform. I have on a number of occasions stopped and said to a struggling noob, "Hi, I'm an instructor here, can I help you out?" I'll show my staff pass, just to verify. Generally, they're very appreciative that I've taken the time out of my obviously free time to help them out. At the same time, if I have somewhere else I need to be, or am just in my own space, I can opt to just continue on my way.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post
 

Whether in uniform or not, people are a lot less anonymous than they might think. I suspect I'm about 95% accurate identifying plain clothed instructors, race team members and patrollers. I know patrollers who are just as good, Patrollers appreciate when instructors stop to offer assistance at accident scenes and help out in other ways. Last year I got caught by a patroller doing a job he was planning to do (breaking up a frozen section of the trail that was thawing out). He saved a half hour of his time because he saw me on the trail from the bottom, knew who I was and knew he could just talk to me on the chair ride up to verify he did not need to lap the run to do what I was doing.  Some people may wonder why I did not get in trouble for poaching 3 feet of fresh when then mountain was closed. Maybe it is just karma. My code of conduct is the same whether I'm in uniform or not, whether I'm working at my mountain or visiting another. It makes things a lot simpler when you consider helping people to be fun and you have a reputation for insanity to uphold.

 

I do have to agree that anonymity is a relative concept for a mountain employee. I have been spotted by one of my seasonal kids from a few hundred yards away while in civilian jacket, based solely upon how I ski. Similarly, I wear Lange boots (like half the mountain), but always use bright orange duct tape on the toes. I've been identified by lifties by the duct tape on my boots. However, for those who are generally the most likely to stop me if I'm in a uniform (beginners and the like), they have no way to identify me as a mountain employee. 

 

I guess my perspective comes from working at mountains where wearing your uniform when not actively on the clock is prohibited. I've just become used to the extra degree of autonomy I have off duty, and wouldn't want to give that up by having my uniform on all the time. 

post #8 of 13

What isn't mentioned in the OP is that some of the most fun terrain to ski at his resort is out-of-bounds...  having somebody in uniform go traipsing out-of-bounds would seem to add an "official" ok to the concept of reaching those areas.

post #9 of 13

I once worked with a kid who got fired for doing backflips in his uniform.  To be fair, he had been warned.

post #10 of 13
While skiing in uniform, rules related to out of bounds skiing and statesmanship should not be broken period. I don't like skiing in my uniform because it's not as functional as my stretchy mountain force garb. I don't mind staying on the runs and I could care less about marketing the ski school by skiing well in uniform but usually I do represent well that way. If I have an easy chance to change clothes I will but only because it enhances my skiing compared to whatever heavy duty not well fitting uniform I have. Otherwise I won't be skiing any more or less dangerously either way, breaking any rules or doing anything in or out of uniform.

But it's also true that I can ski pretty much all conditions and make it look smooth and easy, so it's non issue to me.

I do think that lessor skilled instructors should not ski in uniform on any slope that is beyond their ability to look "dialed". They are representing.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post
 

What isn't mentioned in the OP is that some of the most fun terrain to ski at his resort is out-of-bounds...  having somebody in uniform go traipsing out-of-bounds would seem to add an "official" ok to the concept of reaching those areas.

Nope. Incorrect. There is no good terrain out of bounds at my home mountain. None at all. Just cliffs and ice and rocks. And bears. And maybe a Yeti. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

 

But in any case, going over a boundary in uniform is an automatic pink slip, no questions asked. Meanwhile, we are encouraged to go OOB in civvies. 

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post
 

Nope. Incorrect. There is no good terrain out of bounds at my home mountain. None at all. Just cliffs and ice and rocks. And bears. And maybe a Yeti. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

 

 

Oh.  Right.  I forgot.  I was thinking back to the days when you worked at Okemo.  ;)

post #13 of 13

Our policy is no free skiing in uniform. It was presented as a reminder that comp does not cover us when skiing on our own time. Even so we have a code of conduct that includes skiing off the clock. Too many rude and obnoxious incidents in the past I guess. Myself I work when I am scheduled and on my days off I ski only if my wife or friends want to. Otherwise I take a break from skiing and go fishing, or do all the errands I can't while working. I know others who become slope rats and see missing a day of skiing as bad and that is fine for them. But my schedule has busy periods where I am scheduled 20 days straight. So a little time off is always a welcome thing. It's really no different from the average Joe who looks forward to their weekends because they don't have to be at work. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy my job, but work is work and play is play.

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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Instructors free skiing - in uniform or not? (split from clinic thread)