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Instructors: Certified & Trained at the Highest Level. What does it mean?

Poll Results: How would you interpret the following statement if made by a U.S. Ski School Director? "Our pros are certified and trained at the highest level."

 
  • 16% (2)
    The majority of the mountains instructors have some sort of certification, but some are unexperienced un-certs who have received new hire training from fully certified trainers
  • 16% (2)
    All Instructors have at least PSIA Cert 1 or equivalent and have received new hire training from fully certified trainers
  • 0% (0)
    All Instructors have at least PSIA Cert 1 or equivalent and have received new hire training from fully certified trainers
  • 0% (0)
    All Instructors have at least PSIA Cert 2 or equivalent and have received new hire training from fully certified trainers
  • 8% (1)
    All Instructors have at least PSIA Cert 3 or equivalent and have received new hire training from fully certified trainers
  • 8% (1)
    All Instructors have at least PSIA Cert 3 or equivalent and have received new hire training from fully certified trainers as well as 20+ hours of ongoing training each season
  • 50% (6)
    Something Else- Please Explain
12 Total Votes  
post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

How would you interpret the following statement if made by a U.S. Ski School Director?

 

"Our instructors are certified and trained at the highest level."

 

Edit- mods, I duplicated an answer above, please remove.

 

mod note: once a poll has been added we can only remove it - which will lose votes already cast. Use the flag icon to report posts so mod attention can be more quickly gained. 

post #2 of 11
If they said "to the highest level", I'd read that to mean that all were level 3. Since it says "at the highest level", I'd take that to mean the higher level instructors were certified to some level, the rest weren't.
post #3 of 11
Highest in the US is L3. If 'all' are full cert, and that's L3, then they all should be L3 or L4 for Canada.
post #4 of 11

From Vail Daily

http://www.vaildaily.com/news/eaglevalley/9680986-113/ski-lessons-murphy-resorts

 

 

“The benefit of learning with the school (instead of having a friend or significant other teach you) is that our pros are certified and trained at the highest level. They’re going to be able to eliminate many of the frustrations you’ll find when you try to teach family members.”
Bobby Murphy
Vail Ski and Snowboard School director

 

 

Here are some details (from that same article) about Vail's training that may help explain the statement in question:

 

Some of the biggest changes at the ski school offices are likely ones that students won’t notice. 

Previously, the school was organized by base area location with general managers and managers in Lionshead, Vail Village and Golden Peak. Now, a general manager of children’s programs and a general manager of adult programs oversees all locations, with supporting location managers. These general managers will report to Murphy. 

“The way it was structured before, it became very segmented. This was to bring consistency and give us a way to share best practices,” said Murphy. 

The training management team and supervisors have also taken a much more hands-on approach in training its pros, dropping in frequently on lessons, getting feedback from instructors and setting up a constructive way to communicate improvements and changes, said Raymond. 

“It’s something some other resorts have played with, and we actually contracted a consulting company to help us with this,” he said. “We’ve worked with our managers to spend a lot of time focusing on interaction and leadership.”

post #5 of 11

IMO, just a marketing slogan meant to mean that a ski instructor is highly trained and is better at teaching skiing than a untrained family member.

post #6 of 11

I voted other. I think it means that someone is full of it.

post #7 of 11

Bobby could be saying "all instructors are (certified and trained) at the highest level" or he could be saying "(all instructors are certified) and (all instructors are trained at the highest level). My bet is the latter. Training at the highest level is something that could be interpreted many different ways. One way would mean that all instructors are trained at the highest lesson level the school teaches. Another way would mean training at the highest level offered in the US. I would interpret that to mean the training offered to demo team members by the demo team coach. Clearly that interpretation is not possible for Vail's entire staff. He probably means something between the former and the latter, but there is a much simpler explanation.

 

This announcement, my friends, is a classic example of corporate speak turned into marketing for public consumption. I can't tell you how many corporate reorgs I've witnessed where the management structure was changed from geographic to functional and announced with great fanfare about how the new structure will improve performance only to see the same thing happen in reverse two years later. This kind of org change is an admission that they don't know how to solve their management problems. Bringing in a consultant to teach managers "how to interact and lead" is the red flag here. If they really knew how to interact and lead, then they would not need to reorg. Saying all instructors are certified and trained blah blah is putting lipstick on a pig. If there are significant defections of experienced staff from Vail to Aspen because of pay issues either they have to fix the pay issue or gloss over the problem. Lipstick is pretty glossy. Every resort has to hire new instructors sooner or later. Most resorts have to hire some people who have never taught before and then teach them how to teach. Such people can't get certified by PSIA until they have a minimum number of hours of training + experience, but they can take a level 1 cert exam with all of their experience as training. Vail is big enough to hold in house level 1 exams for all of their new never taught before staff before they teach actual lessons.  They deserve kudos if this is what they are doing. Other resorts that have made similar claims either only hired experienced and certified pros (e.g. Alta) or required their new pros to get certified in their first year of teaching (e.g. Blue Knob). But this is small potatoes compared to losing experienced level 3 staff members. My guess it is more expensive to keep the experienced staff. Their guess is the guests won't notice the difference. Their solution is to instantly "train" the lost experience into the rest of the staff? Hmmm! 

 

The rest of the stuff is similarly ho hum. "Self instruction" is less than 10% of first timers and is primarily done to save money. My bet is that there are far fewer people who want to save money who are going to Vail for their first time lessons. Vail is leading the way in ski instruction by introducing a package deal for new skiers? Snort! This is more like "finally catching up to what everyone else already does". How many people lose lesson tickets? At my resort most guests have their lesson printed onto their lift ticket. Electronic tracking of lessons? Ok - I'll bite. Fitbits are getting popular. Recently someone recommended a fitbit to me. How else would I know if I got my 10000 steps in every day? I don't know, maybe walking 18 holes of golf. Look at it this way. If you need an app to tell you what your lesson has done for you, that lesson was not very effective. Getting 10000 steps in per day is like getting 20 hours of training in per season. It's only a start. Guaranteed small class sizes and terrain based learning are relatively rare at US resorts, but have been happening at other resorts for years now. The one piece of news here that is really impressive is that ski school students will get pins for learning new skills. Could it be their market research showed that their target market of rich people loves shiny jewelry?

 

Well, such a long list of items is certainly impressive. Vail must be leading the way in ski instruction. It's sorta like taking a groomer down one of the back bowls and calling that skiing the back bowls. The old Hertz commercials had a good phrase to cover this: "not exactly".

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
I didn't intent to have Vail specifically brought into this so quickly, but since they have been, I'll share my thoughts.
 
The training at Vail is very good compared to what new hires receive at other nearby ski schools (10 days from quality Cert 3+ vs 2 to 8 days from various cert and experience levels).  The only CO school that I know of that might provide more training than Vail is Aspen-Snowmass.
 
The caliber of people Vail hires to instruct is very good considering the starting pay is only $10/hr.  The new hire training is focused on teaching levels 1 to 4, with little focus beyond that.  For me, along with my prior non-professional ski experience, I felt pretty comfortable teaching my 1st lesson (8 never-evers, if I remember correctly), but I knew a few instructors who did not feel as ready.  In some cases, Vail will provide additional "prescribed" training beyond the new hire training and all returning instructors are required to take 3 to 6 hours of training each season.      
 
Not all Vail instructors are certified (although the school does encourage it, especially if you want to stay on for multiple years).  In my case, I started teaching in December and got my level 1 towards the end of my first season.  This was pretty typical for those that I started with, although some new hires never get certified.  I have since added more certs, but many that I started with have decided not to go beyond their cert 1.
 
I think that Vail has a deep bench of high level trainers and top quality skiers, but find it interesting that the training manager quoted in the article, Mark Raymond, decided last summer (2014) to leave Vail and take a training position with PSIA and instruct p-t at Aspen (while still living in the Vail Valley).  Mark was quite popular at Vail and many were sorry to see him go.  

Edited by MEfree30 - 9/4/15 at 3:19pm
post #9 of 11
Sounds like a nice way to announce the elimination of a short handful of management positions and how it will benefit the public. smile.gif
post #10 of 11

Former national ski team members with extensive coaching experience.  Although -- with a big lump of American style grade inflation -- this might also be construed to include Interski demo team members as well.

post #11 of 11

I worked for Bobby and saw him as pretty straight forward family guy. So it is hard to imagine he intended to mislead anyone about his staff and their qualifications. It's far more likely the context was in reference to the untrained family member verses one of his pros. Only Bobby can say for sure though.

Mark moving to S3 of A is good for them and a loss for VRI but who knows maybe he found a deal too good to pass up and like Annie and Bob from our school he will love the change. I bet at his level he will be over at Highlands with most of the other E level coaches.

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