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Advice on lessons for beginner skier

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I'm new to this forum and new to skiing - off to Tahoe for my first ski trip in March, and getting v. excited reading about all that lovely snow.

So here's the thing. I've been thinking about having a couple of lessons locally in advance of my trip to learn the basics and (hopefully) maximise the time I have in Tahoe actually skiing rather than sliding around on my backside. I've heard other people say it really pays off to familiarise yourself with the basics - how to get on a lift or even how to put your boots on! - before a first skiiing holiday.

I live in new york and don't have a car which I know limits my options, but could easily get to Hunter Mountain by bus for a daytrip, and luckily could get there midweek to avoid the worst of the crowds. Oh, and I'm a reasonably fit 35 yr old.

I've read some great advice on this forum so am appealing to your collective widsom. Is this a good idea or a waste of time/money? And specifically:
- is Hunter OK for beginners?
- what do you think of private vs. group lessons for beginners?
- if I was to book a private lesson, how long would you recommend? Two hours or more/less?
- does anyone know of an instructor they'd like to recommend?

Many thanks for any wise words you have!
post #2 of 7
If you can get a bus to Hunter, you can get a bus to Windham Mountain.

Wherever you go "Demand a Certified Pro or Demand Your Money Back!"
A PSIA certified Pro at Windham will be teaching you the same basic things as a PSIA pro anywhere else in America.

If you plan to make it to Windham email me and I will try to meet you that day.
post #3 of 7

cant get there from here

Hello, Green

- is Hunter OK for beginners?

Sure. Hunter (reputation:rough crowds on weekends, great midweek), Windham (reputation: state of the art facilities great ski school), Catamount (reputation: hasnt changed in a million years, great race team, great ski school, family owned), Butternut (reputation: family owned, friendly terrain, mellow), Jiminy Peak (reputation: big terrain, state of the art facilities, great night skiing). All good areas

- what do you think of private vs. group lessons for beginners?

If you pick the right day, (weekdays or Sunday afternoons it tends not to be as busy. You could luck out with very small numbers in a group lesson (most cost effective) You may even get one on one with the instructor. (hint, look for an instructor with a silver or gold pin. You can request an instructor for a group lesson. These are the pros that will give you a very good lesson. the gold pin is highly sought after. Level 3. you will get the best. (or if at catamount, a bronze one if the guys name tag says JP....heh, heh)

- if I was to book a private lesson, how long would you recommend? Two hours or more/less?

If you are in good shape, 2 hours is fine. any more than that and mental and physical fatique begin to effect your progress. You could always ask to split up the 2 hours...(group lessons at catamount are 1.5 hours, and if you are a first timer, you are invited back for another lesson in the afternoon at no extra charge! thats 3 hours obviously, and again, go for the silver or gold pin...) Note: When first learning much energy is used just getting used to the equipment.

- does anyone know of an instructor they'd like to recommend?

When are you going? If to catamount on the weekend- Ed or Peter(both level 3) or myself (shoe in for level 2) I also love teaching beginners. Jenny is also a very good pick.

If during the week look up Capt John at Butternut

Stache from Windham is also pretty good I hear, but has this website.....

I have found that wherever I go here in the east, snowsports centers (ski schools) have dedicated instructors who genuinely care for their guests.

-look for seasoned professionals, if possible somewhere around your own age, or older....
-Ask yourself if you preferr a man or woman
-schedule a time of day that is good for you. when you are usually at your best
-ask many questions if something seems to be unclear.
We instructors try to teach to your strengths: think about how you learn best. Do you learn by mostly; thinking, seeing, or doing. (this will help the instructor custom fit thier lessons for you) what other sports do you engage in?

-most of all, be prepared to have fun. You will learn a lot in that first lesson. equipment fit, ski design, turning, stopping, falling, getting up (tomorrows lesson), riding lifts.......Its a very cool experience....

best of luck and happy skiing.
post #4 of 7
Green Skier-

Welcome to the sport all of us are so passionate about!

1) Find the ski are director, and communicate your desires to that person.

2) I have always advocated a group lesson for first time adult skiers. You can learn a lot by watching others. After the initial group lesson, and getting the very basics down, I feel private lessons can really help someone hone their skills. I would however continue to mix group with private lessons. You can have a lot of fun and comaraderie with other skiers.

3) If you don't understand something in the lesson, stop the instructor, and ask them to clarify it right away.

And above all, have fun!
post #5 of 7
I did a two-hour private Saturday evening for a trim and fit 35-40-year-old male who had spent three hours in a class lesson at Beaver Creek a couple weeks ago. This guy is in good shape because he's run off about 30 pounds in the last year and is athletic enough to have a low golf handicap. From his three-hour class lesson he had learned to make a sort-of gliding wedge with his weight mostly on his heels. That's it. He said he heard something at the end of the lesson about holding his hands like he had a steering wheel and rotating that steering wheel right to turn right, left to turn left. To me, that means he's going to lean into turns with his outside hand and shoulder higher than the inside. Not a pretty thought.

Did I mention this was a three-hour lesson at Beaver Creek? That's the Vail Ski School, I thought. He only barely learned to wedge?

In our two hours he ended up turning comfortably at speed on gentle terrain (it was warm and slick that evening), occasionally getting onto corresponding edges. He was engaging the fronts of his boots reliably instead of standing on his heels and he was turning his feet instead of his hands.

I don't know who conducted the three-hour class at Beaver Creek, but I have one of those gold pins JPSKI mentioned and I'm a "seasoned veteran". My point is that the guy got a lot more from his two hours of private lesson than the three hours of class, and he paid almost the same rate for both lessons.
post #6 of 7
To get a good instructor you have to ask for a Level 3 with at least 10 years of experience. Group lessons are not a bad start for the "never/evers" and they are cost effective. If you don't like it, get a private one. But DO take lessons, even when you are in Tahoe. Invest some money now and you will really benefit now and also in the long run so you don't get bad habits. Next year you can sign-up for ESA.
post #7 of 7
One other point about taking a group lkesson in Tahoe, When you go to a big area that you are not familiar with the Instructor should move the group around making it as much of a guided tour of the area as a lesson, all the while keeping you on terrain that wil neither bore you silly or scare you stupid.

That shield pin can be Bronze, Silver, or Gold, it means you have an instructor who has dedicated their time and $$ to teaching the sport and is not just there for a warm jacket and a free lift ticket.

Thanks for the plug JP, Say hello to Martha Rowe for me.
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