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Teaching never-evers in the pouring rain

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Scenario: Our area, which is the only one open in Ohio at this time, opened at 3:30 p.m. to accomodate the first school groups. The reason is that the school groups get five lessons, one each week, and if they don't come because of weather or whatever they forfit that lesson if the area is open for skiing.

Scenario: It has rained a half inch for the last three days each and a full inch today and it is just pouring rain in buckets. The kids are freshman or sophomores in highschool and they line up, never having been on snow. The instructor with his poncho on is not very happy, but he tries his best.

Some kids fall over into the slop while trying to step into the bindings and their clothes are soaking wet. Now they are lined up, water running down their faces, the girl with the knit waterlogged mittens is quietly crying but still being brave in front of her classmates, and you can hear the knashing of the instructor's teeth, yet he also bravely goes on.

So much for student cetered teaching and skiers retention...all the idealistic talk here can't undo that reality.

post #2 of 31

This sounds too much like a nightmare from my distant past.

post #3 of 31
Ooooh damn how I miss that.

Ott we have an instructor here that says you broke his leg in the certification exam. This guy was surprised to find out you still ski and wants to ski with you again for old time sake. He is still teaching.
post #4 of 31
Ugh, what a miserable 1st experience for those poor kids. It's too bad other arrangements couldn't have been made for them.

I had one of those pouring, blowing, freezing rain nights last season. Fortunately, there were only two adults in my class, and they both had previous skiing experience (about level 3-4, if I remember correctly).

My SSD gave me permission to teach in my Gore-tex civies (much more rain proof than our uniforms), so I gave my poncho to one of the students and rounded up another poncho for the other student, and off we went. I took them inside for a drying-out break at about the 30 min point, and by the time we went out again, the front had passed over, and now it was merely a steady, heavy rain, not a full-fledged gale.

I'm not sure they learned a whole lot, but they were impressed by how nice the snow became, and at least had a war story to tell and put some more miles on their skis.

Tom / PM
post #5 of 31
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Pierre
Ooooh damn how I miss that.

Ott we have an instructor here that says you broke his leg in the certification exam. This guy was suprised to find out you still ski and want to ski with you again for old time sake. ;D
And what, break MY leg for me??? Say hello to him for me and tell him I skied with Valta Neuron shortly after his recovery from being hit and laying unconcious in the hospital. I was sorry to lose an old friend...and if I visit you I hope to ski with him.


post #6 of 31
Gee Ott, I see Horst standing in that picture too. I ski with him almost every day.
post #7 of 31


It was about as bad as you can get. Thirty three degrees, the last lesson of the evening and a developing soaker. As a new hire I figured that it was my turn to pay my dues so I raised my hand when they asked for an instructor.

I remember looking out at the lineup .... eight of em' ... standing there waiting for me and the thought hit me. What kind of dumb SOB's would be out there on a night like this?

The answer hit me just as fast. Those "Dumb SOB's" were there because they wanted to be there. They wanted to learn to ski. It's wasn't a school group so they weren't forced to engage in that soaking.

Our hour and a half group lesson hit and passed the two hour mark and they were reluctant to quit. Since we didn't allow the use of lifts during a level I lesson, I had my son bring us a bunch of poles from the rental area and the remaining seven (one did drop out in the first few minutes) .... "ran gates".

They remain ..... the best and most satisfying group that I have ever encountered.
post #8 of 31
I think I'd want my hot toddy before AND after the lesson.
post #9 of 31
exemplary patience was the order of the day, eh, Ott? wow. I can't imagine those poor kids having such weather and conditions for their first exposure to skiing. who could blame them if they never ever wanted to return, eh? wouldn't much matter who the instructor was, I'd bet, if someone was disheartened enough by the sogginess etc.

growing up on the east coast in the mid-Atlantic area, you can bet I skied many days in rain and sleet. "trash bag poncho" skiing, we called it. those were the days that really separated the kids who loved skiing, and those who skied just because they wanted to socialize or "belong" or the like. probably not much different today.

Blue Knob and Seven Springs were where I spent most of my soggiest ski days.
post #10 of 31
I have only bailed ONCE on a lesson because of rain.... it was stupidly heavy & super windy as well.... Ski school did simply reschedule the private lesson for me on another day (same thing the day my car broke down on the way)....

Usually though we keep the lesson whatever the weather - windhold days mean I get to do technique stuff on the beginners terrain....
post #11 of 31
Shame on management for such a policy. How short sighted!
post #12 of 31
Holy Carp, Batman! (sic intentional)
That brings back an ugly flashback. In high school, the season before I started teaching, I WAS one of those idiots!

I had signed up with a group that had a 6 session (lift/lesson) package at Liberty. One of those sessions, it was raining pretty good, and apparently, the group cancelled, but I was never made aware because although the ski school director allowed me to take the 6 session package with that group, I wasn't actually affiliated with them at all.

I showed up, and to my amazement (!), I was the only one. The instructor (Jon Muller - I'm pretty sure he's still there) wanted to break my legs for that one. He was none too pleased to have to teach that day!
post #13 of 31
The first New England Winter Sports Clinic for Disabled Veterans was just like that. First day was raining and freezing. We had guys sitting in biskis with water up to their navels. They were out there freezing their butts off and smiling every minute of it. They were learning to ski and having a ball. We just kept going making sure they weren't going hypothermic on us.

The next day we had to cancel. That rain had turned into a major ice storm and we lost power to most of the area, including the mountain and lifts. The guys were disappointed as hell. They wanted to get out there and do it again and they didn't give a dam about the weather.

One of the best experiences I have had teaching adaptive. It took me 40 minutes standing in a hot shower just to be able to move, but it was more than worth it.
post #14 of 31
Thread Starter 
Boston Mills/Brandywine pride themselves in staying open whenever possible, surpising, there is still good snow cover. A winter storm warning is out for tomorrow of ice, sleet and rain, and then it gets warm again for the weekend...here is a blurp from their web page.

*** Updated January 4 ***
Northeast Ohio's weather is well known for being fickle, but in the past two weeks it's really outdone itself! It looks like we'll be able to make snow midweek, but in the meantime we wanted to let you all know that we are planning to stay open through the thaw and remind you to check the Snow Reports before you visit for updates.

In terms of lesson programs, the Women's Snow Discovery, Tiny Tots, Mogul Mites, Junior Program, Freestyle Bootcamp and School Programs are all on for the week. The Race Clinics on Tuesdays, Wednesday, and Thursdays have been postponed and will start instead next week (1/11-1/13). The Collegiate Race and the USASA SnowOhio events scheduled for this weekend will be postponed as well, but the Demo events at both resorts are still on schedule as of right now.
post #15 of 31
Hey, Ott, how come the geek in the baseball cap on the end of that lineup looks like Pierre on steroids?

I've taught numerous lessons in downpours over the years, but none to kids off a bus on a "must take" basis. I love rain-soaked snow. It's exceptionally slippery and soft. My bride calls me crazy. Of course, she calls me a lot of other less repeatable things too.

Only rain-soaked lesson I've ever given up on was when they closed the lifts because of lightning.
post #16 of 31

Mad River Mt. is still open also. Monday night the school groups came and lessons were given in the rain. Unfortunately <G> I missed it as I had to stay at work. Tonight the school groups canciled but Columbus Ski Club was comming. They didn't need everyone so I didn't go. Do you see a pattern here? <G>
post #17 of 31
Thread Starter 
Hi Tom, nice to see you around. Ohio must have hardy students willing to stand in the rain or even ski in the rain, it's just not a good first experience for never-evers who may well decide, oh, whatever...you lucked out, but with the forcast of warm weather for the most part in the near future, your time will come...hope to ski with you again some time this winter

Kneale, that picture was taken about 25 years ago, but Pierre is now at Snowtrails and he may be able to identify the ones who are still around....

post #18 of 31

I only laugh (OK, not really) because we're going through the same thing here at 7S.

I've taught a measley 2 lessons a day the last few days because of the monsoon-like rains (and abundance of mud vs. snow ratio).

It amazes me the 3-4 never evers that show up each day to learn to ski in the dense fog and pouring rain...but we do our best to make them smile, have fun and learn. Hopefully so they return under better conditions at a later date...and request us for private lessons of course <EG>.

It is tough.
post #19 of 31
Thanks for the post. You remind me that the sport is madness at it's best! Your post also brings to mind that peculiar passion which skiers at the less than glamorous resorts (like the one where I learned to ski) often have for skiing (I'm not dissing your place-just the opposite, but I'm guessing it might be a bit like some of those Minnesota areas I used to ski-less than awesome vertical and full of enthusiastic skiers). Of course your area should have some kind of refund/retry policy but still......just the fact that you and your students were there doing it under such conditions is remarkable.
post #20 of 31

And this is unusual...?

In many places around the world, what Ott has described is commonplace. Try working in NZ sometime... If you don't ski in the rain, you don't ski...

I can remember huge groups of kids, and adults too, wearing their oilskins, thin nylon overpants, wool mittens, no goggles, and sponge-like hats. And they would stay out there till they absolutely couldn't take it any more. Then they'd go and sit in small steamy cafes, with no place to get warm or to dry out.

From the instr point of view, of course we dreaded having to go out there. Sometimes I felt there was more water in my boots than in the stream running through the middle of the slope.

Later as SSD, I made sure that on the days which were the worst, I would teach the first lesson. Far be it for me to sit inside, warm and dry, while asking my staff to go out in those conditions. Then we would rotate instrs in shifts, so everyone had a turn.

But there always seemed to be that one nutcase who wanted to teach every session!
post #21 of 31
It seemed like it rained once a week when I taught in Vermont. Always at least 2------- hour and forty five minute sessions and maybe a private.

The standard gear of the day was the full yellow "Gortons" fishermans rain suit and rubber (sewage treatment plant) gloves.

The students wanted to be there after all it was only 1 hr/45 min....(for them anyway)--

It was pretty routine right up to the day our Ski School Steve Martin "act-a-like" showed up with the US "D" Team knee pads and stripes painted on the yellow pants. I have never seen so many people laugh so hard, standing outside in the pouring rain in my life----it's been about 27 years now and whenever I run into folks who were there, they still remember.
post #22 of 31
Thread Starter 
Oisin, I retired from active teaching long ago, so I was just an observer in this case, but I have not forgotten the many times I had to teach like this, 25 years worth of turning the class with their backs to the wind driven sleet while taking it in the face myself.

I got to be a real expert in cutting arm and head holes into garbge bags to use as make shift raincoats. It never bothered me when I had a class of students who had a year or two of skiing under their belt, they knew what they were getting into, It was the first timers who came with the bus ponsored by a school or a radio station, etc..to see what this glamouros sport they see on TV is all about and they end up standing in line forever to get fitted with rental equipment, then they put their skis out on the rack and don't pay any attention to their numbers, go in to put their boots on, so when they come out all skis on the rack look alike so they just pick up any pair and the person whose skis those were reports them stolen and then they get soaked and can't really ski after an hour's lesson and they come in and hit the cafeteria and that's that, they go from never-evers to NEVER-NEVERS, and who can blame them.

But I know who does get blamed, and so do you.

post #23 of 31
Good grief! It's pouring rain in buckets, one girl is crying...and you are taking these kids out to ski! What a great way to inspire lifelong skiers!

Did it occur to anyone to have an indoor session? You could talk about the principles of skiing, play with equipment, tell great ski stories, do stretching exercises, dry-run through wedges and wedge turns. After all, these ARE never-evers. Then, if it lets up, take 'em outside. If it doesn't, toward the end of the session, you could ask if any of them want to go out to briefly test what you have been talking about. OK, it's not as good as a reasonable day on the snow, but do you really think that they are going to learn anything in conditions like this? Remember the physician's credo: "First of all, do no harm."

We are lucky out West; we rarely have to deal with rain. But I have skied it back East (learned to ski in New Hampshire) and it is miserable. Have mercy!
post #24 of 31
Originally Posted by Mtngeo
Good grief! It's pouring rain in buckets, one girl is crying...and you are taking these kids out to ski! What a great way to inspire lifelong skiers!

Did it occur to anyone to have an indoor session?
What you are suggesting is a little out of the question for the resort that Ott is talking about. At best the lodge will hold 1000 people. You many have as many as 3500 on 42 skiable acres. The lodge is standing room only already let alone bring skis in there.
post #25 of 31
Sounds like a character building experience!
post #26 of 31

A lesson in leadership

Originally Posted by vail snopro
Later as SSD, I made sure that on the days which were the worst, I would teach the first lesson. Far be it for me to sit inside, warm and dry, while asking my staff to go out in those conditions. Then we would rotate instrs in shifts, so everyone had a turn.
A lesson in leadership by example-those of you who aspire to manangement take note. Unfortunately it is lacking in many contemporary "do as I say not do as I do managers".
post #27 of 31
never underestimate the desire and will of teens. My nephew came up with his new bride and skied Meadows a few years back. Too wet for me but they went out and had the time of their life. Didn't care how wet they were, who am I to say ney!
post #28 of 31
Ski lessons in the rain. Sounds like my college phys-ed ski program experience in central New York. Had to show up to the lesson to get the grade. At least the snow was soft and forgiving. And wearing blue jeans, before I discovered the wonders of ski pants :
post #29 of 31
Been there, many times, every season. That magic moment when your trousers start to leak...the blurry smiles when you crack a cheesy joke about the glamour and grandeur of alpine skiing...devising ways to get people moving around so they don't start to turn blue. Truly the coalface of ski teaching. (that and teaching massed squadrons of 4 year olds).
post #30 of 31
We had one of those days today over at mountain creek in NJ, plenty of cold rain..started as freezing rain earlier, about 100 girl scout never-ever's. We station taught in order to keep the train moving but man-o-man, was that rain cold. Our 2 year old uniforms couldn't repel a drop so we were wet (read: COLD), I just felt for all the little kids, most of whom didn't have any type of waterproof gear. But they braved it, and a lot went through my station pretty easily (station 1 i.e. 1 ski and 2 ski walking circles plus some sidestepping). I just tried to keep a happy face...
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