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Highly recommend Taos Super Ski Week!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

A few weeks ago, I had the great fortune in participating in the Taos Super Ski week program.  This is 6 full days of ski instruction and coaching at Taos. The program has been around a long time and is headed up by Alain Veth, the Taos assistant technical director of the Taos ski school.  At the peak of Taos's popularity, there used to be 3 super ski weeks during the ski season but, now, there is just a single week.

 

My initial perception wasn't so favorable because when I called several weeks in advance to register for the Super Ski week, the phone response was simply that I should show up and no reservation was necessary.  Given that I would be spending a lot of hard earned money to pay for the plane tickets, lodging, as well as taking a week off from work, this response did not convey the impression that the resort was very serious about their ski camp or in their customer service.  Further, there was very little online information about the quality of the Taos Super Ski week program including on EpicSki, albeit, there was high regard for the Taos ski school in general.  Given the generally high regard for the Taos ski school, the length of the Super ski week program (6 full days!) and since the cost was quite inexpensive at $450, I decided to commit and attend.  This was my first time skiing at Taos.

 

The Taos Super ski week runs from 9:30am on Sunday morning to 3pm Friday afternoon.  So, approximately 15 skiers met up on a sunny Sunday morning at the base of Taos.  The program started with a ski-off on an intermediate groomed run so that the instructors could evaluate each skier and assign them to the appropriate group and ski instructor.  Taos classifies skiers from levels 1 to 10 so we were eventually divided into 4 groups - a beginner group and a level 6, 8, and 10 group.

 

All groups were given racing training - slalom on Tuesday morning and GS on Wednesday morning.  Our GS training runs were filmed and reviewed in front of everyone on Thursday.  The rest of Thursday morning, we raced on a Nastar course against a Taos pacesetter (who happened to be a Super ski week instructor).  On the afternoons and the other days, my group was given intensive instruction which focused on mogul technique and improved edging and carving on a variety of different terrain across Taos, including Kachina Peak.  Our instructor also engaged in a lot of Q&A with us so that we could get specific answers to our ski questions as we were skiing.

 

I learnt a tremendous amount during my week at Taos and it way surpassed what I expected to get out of the program.  I thought my mogul skiing was already decent, but the Taos emphasis on functional skiing technique was very helpful and enabled me to make my mogul turns more effortlessly.  I had never raced before so I was skeptical that the racing portion of the Super Ski week would be very interesting to me.  In fact, the reality is that any deficiency in our skiing is so much more apparent on the race course and on film, that I've become a complete convert on the value of race training in helping our recreational skiing technique.

 

Bottom line is that I am convinced that the Taos Super Ski week is not only the best value in ski instruction in the country, but it is superior to any other private ski instruction that I've taken in the past.  For those that are looking to improve their skiing, I highly recommend this program without any hesitation whatsoever!

post #2 of 19

Sounds like a great week!  I've been thinking about the Taos Ski Week for a while but hadn't heard about the Super Ski Week before.

 

Did you have to notice how many people were in the "beginner group"?  I'm intrigued at the idea of a beginner doing 6 full days of lessons.  When my friends were beginners, it was hard enough for them to ski 3 days in a row with a couple of group lessons in the mix.

post #3 of 19
Glad you had a good time.
 
You should ask @mdf about the Taos Ultra ski week that he participated in last week. Only open to a few but well worth the time. Cheap too. :D
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

You can sign up and do the regular Taos Ski Week every week at the resort.  But it is only half day for each of the 6 days and so there is no race element to the week.  The Super Ski Week is held only once during the season and is composed of a full day for each of the 6 days and so there is time for a fuller, more comprehensive set of instruction over the course of the week.  Of course, you have to ensure that your fitness level can handle it.

 

I believe there were 2 or 3 people in the beginner group.  But I should have mentioned that they weren't literally beginners.  I don't think they could do parallel turns at the beginning of the week, so its probably fairer to say that they were level 4 or 5 skiers.  I heard that they improved significantly over the course of the week.

 

@mdf, what is ultra week?

post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marathoner View Post
 

You can sign up and do the regular Taos Ski Week every week at the resort.  But it is only half day for each of the 6 days and so there is no race element to the week.  The Super Ski Week is held only once during the season and is composed of a full day for each of the 6 days and so there is time for a fuller, more comprehensive set of instruction over the course of the week.  Of course, you have to ensure that your fitness level can handle it.

 

I believe there were 2 or 3 people in the beginner group.  But I should have mentioned that they weren't literally beginners.  I don't think they could do parallel turns at the beginning of the week, so its probably fairer to say that they were level 4 or 5 skiers.  I heard that they improved significantly over the course of the week.

 

Ah, so more like Advanced Beginners or aspiring Intermediates.  My daughter was Level 5 (of 9) when I first took her out west (mostly parallel).  I have some sense of what can be accomplished with a few days of ski school with kids.  For adults who are really interested in improving, I can imagine that a full week of instruction could make a huge difference.

 

I'm old enough that I think the regular Ski Week would be a better fit.  At least for the first time. ;) 

post #6 of 19
Ah, "ultra ski week" is KingGrump's little joke.
Every afternoon at 1:30 after the afternoon line-up, we went skiing with several instructors who did not get an assignment (none of our friends did - no PM group lessons).

THese were people KG has known for years and is good friends with. So we had two to six senior instructors, KingGrup and his wife and 20 year old son, and whatever longtime clients were around. I took a level 9 ski week in the morning and the afternoons were MUCH more intense. All double black steep bumps and steep trees, with no breaks except to wait for the "buffer friend" at the bottom of a pitch or to dither about where to go next. (Ok, I guess AL's Run is only a single black, isn't it? Al's top to bottom was a common warm up run.) Except for one day when we quit at 3:45 for a drink, we went full speed till last chair. No instruction, though -- its just for fun.

KG's other name for these sessions is "boot camp."

One afternoon out on the hill we saw a woman we had skied with a couple of days before. "Are you going to join us?" "Hell no."
post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

Ah, "ultra ski week" is KingGrump's little joke.
Every afternoon at 1:30 after the afternoon line-up, we went skiing with several instructors who did not get an assignment (none of our friends did - no PM group lessons).

THese were people KG has known for years and is good friends with. So we had two to six senior instructors, KingGrup and his wife and 20 year old son, and whatever longtime clients were around. I took a level 9 ski week in the morning and the afternoons were MUCH more intense. All double black steep bumps and steep trees, with no breaks except to wait for the "buffer friend" at the bottom of a pitch or to dither about where to go next. (Ok, I guess AL's Run is only a single black, isn't it? Al's top to bottom was a common warm up run.) Except for one day when we quit at 3:45 for a drink, we went full speed till last chair. No instruction, though -- its just for fun.

KG's other name for these sessions is "boot camp."

One afternoon out on the hill we saw a woman we had skied with a couple of days before. "Are you going to join us?" "Hell no."


Having skied a few "adventure" runs with KingGrump and friends at Snowbird a few years ago during late season, I can easily imagine the look on the woman's face.  I had fun, but also knew that sticking with KG for the entire afternoon was not of interest at that point as I was working on improving my skills for steeper off-piste terrain.

 

In general, free skiing with instructors is great fun.  Especially if snow conditions aren't the best since they know where to go find the good stuff.  Plus they are knowledgeable enough to know whether or not the terrain is manageable for the folks who are going for the first time.

post #8 of 19

I spent an enjoyable  and challenging afternoon skiing some steeps at Alta with Marathoner... He would have enjoyed the "ultra" sessions.

post #9 of 19

@Marathoner , if you don't mind me asking, who was your instructor for the super ski week? 

post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 

My instructors name was Mark.  He's been an instructor for over 20 years at Taos.

post #11 of 19

Mark  is really nice guy. He is one of the coaches for the race week. My son had him for a teen week couple years ago.

Beautiful skier, floats like a butterfly. Really graceful. Skied with us one afternoon last week.     


Edited by KingGrump - 3/8/16 at 5:57pm
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 

I agree - Mark is a great guy, a great instructor, and a great skier.  One thing that he and the other Taos instructors mentioned is to use different instructors on future visits to Taos because every instructor teaches and conveys information differently so it can be useful for skiers to hear points reinforced and stated in different ways.

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marathoner View Post
 

I agree - Mark is a great guy, a great instructor, and a great skier.  One thing that he and the other Taos instructors mentioned is to use different instructors on future visits to Taos because every instructor teaches and conveys information differently so it can be useful for skiers to hear points reinforced and stated in different ways.


Interesting to hear the advice about working with a different instructor.  I've taken lessons with several different very experienced (>20 years) instructors in recent years (at Massanutten and out west).  Definitely has been helpful in the long run to have different approaches, all clearly with the same overall objective in mind.  At the same time, being able to work the same coach a few times a year at my home mountain is helpful too.

 

Personally, I prefer having at least one other person during the lesson. Have talked more than one friend into doing semi-private lessons with me.  The Taos Ski Week is of interest partially because it's a multi-day group lesson.

post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 

The other thing which our instructor said in response to my question is that it is harder to teach better skiers to change their skiing mechanics compared to that of novice skiers.  The better you are, he said, the harder it is to break in-grained habits and improve your skiing.  He said that in two years, he can take a beginner and have them be skiing at a level 10 level if they consistently applied themselves.  In contrast, he said that it is difficult to decompose the skiing mechanics of good skiers and have them ski differently than they have been doing for a number of years.  

post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marathoner View Post
 

The other thing which our instructor said in response to my question is that it is harder to teach better skiers to change their skiing mechanics compared to that of novice skiers.  The better you are, he said, the harder it is to break in-grained habits and improve your skiing.  He said that in two years, he can take a beginner and have them be skiing at a level 10 level if they consistently applied themselves.  In contrast, he said that it is difficult to decompose the skiing mechanics of good skiers and have them ski differently than they have been doing for a number of years.  

 

That makes sense.  Probably the first step for a good skier is deciding that it's worth the time and money to get help to move to the next level.

 

I was a low advanced skier when I started working with the same Level 3 instructor a few times a season at Massanutten (southeast).  The push to take lessons came after knee rehab one summer (not a skiing injury).  Had been a "terminal intermediate" when I was working based on learning in middle school (only skied two seasons).  Didn't start skiing a lot until after retirement.  He noted early on that it would take at least a season to make the adjustments needed to move to the next level.  It wasn't until the middle of the next season before it was obvious that I'd made a significant shift.  Also helped that I got in a lot of ski days that season and the next, with at least 20 days out west.  But without the lessons, little would've changed even after I was skiing more.

 

I talked my ski buddy into taking a lesson with me a few years ago.  Partially to help share the cost but I also knew that it could make a difference for him.  He was an advanced skier in high school, skiing in Colorado.  Never had a lesson as an adult.  Old technique with relatively new boots and skis.  Likes powder, trees, and off-piste in general.  Been very interesting observing how working with an instructor helped him to make enough adjustments to ski more efficiently and let his skis do what they were designed to do.  It took 2-3 lessons before the adjustments started being more natural.  Now he can adjust but still has to think about it.  Sometimes he'll use old technique because it's still fun.  We are both considered Level 8 (of 9) at this point.  We were both over 55 when we started taking high level lessons.  In short, it's not easy but old dogs can learn new tricks. :)

post #16 of 19

Sorry to thread jack but my son (12 yr old snowboarder) and I (much older skier) will be traveling form Wisconsin and at Taos on March 20 and 21.  Looking to get he and I 1/2 day lessons.  Based on conditions (spring), should we opt for morning or afternoon?  Any insight on how to work the mountain this time of year for intermediate to advanced?  First time to Taos for us but ski out west every spring break for the past 4 seasons.  Thank you in advance for the help!

post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 

As the mountain seems to be in a freeze/thaw cycle during the night and day, the afternoons will definitely be easier to ski during the afternoon.  As a result, I recommend taking the lessons with the instructor in the morning when the conditions will be icier and more difficult to navigate.  The instructor will know the mountain intimately and will be able to best guide you to where the skiing is more pleasant.  By the time the snow is easier to ski in the afternoon, the guide will have shown you part of the mountain already and will be able to relay recommendations for the afternoon conditions when you finish in the morning.

post #18 of 19
Hi, marathoner : thanks for sharing your experience. After reading your post, I am now even more interested to do the Taos week long ski program. I did not see anything mentioned in their website about the super week program. Do you know which month they normally have this?
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fosphenytoin View Post

Hi, marathoner : thanks for sharing your experience. After reading your post, I am now even more interested to do the Taos week long ski program. I did not see anything mentioned in their website about the super week program. Do you know which month they normally have this?

They usually have this in the last week of Feb.  Because the event has passed, they've removed it from their Ski Taos website.  I expect that it'll come back in the fall with the specific dates for the Super Ski Week.  The regular ski weeks are held every week and are half day each day in the morning.  If you want to improve your skiing, I highly recommend either.

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