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What level class should I take?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
My last lesson was pre shaped skis.
My last lesson was pre back surgery (more below).
I'm pretty confident that I have some technique issues.
I also ski pretty much anything that is in-bounds.

Hmm, not going well - try narrative approach:
In high school (13 years back) I was on Jr Ski Patrol. I was a better skier then than I am now. Mainly because I didn't manage to ski a lot during college, and then shortly after coming back to Colorado, I hurt my back (playing basketball of all things). The injury actually did motor nerve damage to my left leg.

The following winter I decided to get back on skis (this was about 7 or 8 years ago now), so I buy a buddy pass (it was the first year they came out), new boots, and start demoing skis. I discover two things: 1. These new "shaped" skis handle a bit different than the sticks I learned on, and 2. I no longer have the muscle control to make the small little adjustments necessary to ski well in my left leg (I was walking/running just fine at that point, but on skis my brain would tell my leg what to do, and... it wouldn't actually do it - but my right one would). #2 ended up resulting in shoulder surgery the next off-season (nasty fall on the west wall of a-basin).

Since that time, I've been skiing between 7 and 30 days a year. As stated earlier, I will ski pretty much any in-bounds terrain. I really enjoy moguls - and last year purchased some dedicated mogul skis (dynastar twisters). I absolutely love them. But... I suspect that part of the reason I love them is because they don't have much shape, and my technique is still best suited to a straight ski. (The other parts are because they're so incredibly light, and I generaly only ski them in the moguls, which, as we've already established, is terrain that I really enjoy, so I think that transfers to an affection for the skis.)

Anyway, I've read the "definitions" of skill levels, and I really don't know where I would fit in. Back in the "old," or, better stated, "young" days, and straight skis, I would have been a high 8 or very, very low 9.

Now, I just don't know. I mean, I will ski just about anything, and enjoy it. But I know that I could ski it better than I am. If I had to pick one thing that needs improving, I would say speed control. The second would be efficiency (I feel like I'm overpowering my ski, and I just can't do that anymore - my legs hurt too much by the end of the day).

I can't really afford a private, but I'm really worried about getting into the wrong group. Basically, I'm afraid of looking like a fool by signing up for a class that's too advanced for me, but I really don't want to get stuck in a class where the instructor says "now we're going work on X skill" and I either already know the skill or can learn it quite quickly, and then get bored waiting for the rest of the class to catch up (I really don't want to be a snob, but seriously, the lesson time is 4 hours of my life on the mountain that I will never get back - I want to use it productively).

Anyway, I know there's quite a few instructors on this board - where would you place me? Or, what questions could I answer that would help you place me correctly? If it helps, I will probably be taking my lessons at Breck or maybe Keystone.

Thanks any and all for their input!

post #2 of 14

Unlimited package at Breck

Hi Jake - welcome to the instruction side of Epic,

Check out this thread: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=29317
The bottom line is that my initial recommendation is the unlimited lesson package at Breckenridge. The only problem is that I can't find it on their website. If this deal is gone, check out the Copper and WP deals.

Over the course of discourse we might find a better option for you. Based on the injuries and the "leg does not respond" comment the normal recommendation would be a private. But you're also skiing moguls, so the leg response can not be too bad. You need about 1-2 hours of basic shape ski intro and some on your own practice time after that. This would be at "lower" level (slower pace, not very difficult) than what a "normal" lesson for you would be. Once you've had a chance to lock the new movements in, you'll feel like you won't need any more lessons. But this is exactly the point where you will be ready for for a series of tips to work on speed control and efficiency on difficult terrain.

The beauty of the unlimited lesson deal is that for the price of two 1/2 day lessons (or 1/2 the price of a private) you get a whole season worth of tips. The school gets to know you. You're going to get better recommendations from people with face to face experiences. You can blow off a lesson that's not working out or blow off one that works well (e.g. the initial shape ski stuff could be "finished" in an hour). Thus the risk of being in the "wrong" lesson is not so bad. The likelihood of accurate identification of root cause issues and finding the right practice exercises to match your abilities and needs is maximized.

The ability to get lots of tips spread out over time at a relatively low cost appears to be the best solution to the problem you've presented. At this point. There remains the possibility that we can get a better understanding of what your needs are AND/OR identification of the "perfect" instructor for a private for you. We've got good representation from the CO area. You will get some great advice from these folks.
post #3 of 14
J, (the)Rusty has it right on, I think. Furthermore, it might be useful to hook up with a few of the local Bears to get some insight, as well (any interest in the upcoming demo days at Loveland? I plan to be there on the 12th and 19th).

And, as I usually do, I'd like to recommend the EpicSki Academy, as well. For someone in your position, those 4 days would do wonders (check out the Instructional Camps forum and http://esa.epicski.com/ for more on this).

The nice thing about taking high-end lessons is that you often end up with effectively a private (since very few high-end skiers take lessons). The challenge there can be the difficulty of finding high-end instructors in the group pool at some areas.

I think the season pass for lessons would be great for you, as (the)Rusty outlined. But, of all the possibilities, the ESA would be the very best.
post #4 of 14
Just thought of this... Another possibility is to take some instructor clinics early season. You could run up to Monarch or any of the other areas for their instructor training. This is what I did in early season '03, and the training really gave me a lot to study and learn. I actually took a part time position at Eldora as a result, took PSIA clinics, and so on. They made a huge difference.

So, that's a somewhat non-traditional way of doing it.
post #5 of 14
ummmm - challenge aspen do pretty damn cheap privates & they are really helpful to those with disabilities.....

they have special practice dealing with that sort of stuff I guess....

(Not sure because they were going to help me out once if i got there but I did not)

Here in australia the disabled skiing is part & parcel of regular ski schools - so I can ski with an examiner that ALSO deals with disabled skiers (they have to have 2 interests for exams at APSI level 2 cert due to ISIA requiremenst I gather)....
THAT is very useful - ie I get a higher level instructor that can deal with my disability.... very handy for ex good skiers who lose sight etc etc etc
post #6 of 14
Jake, if you get a chance, check out Ski Bums from your video library. One of the star skiers in the movie lost his lower leg in an accident when he was a boy. Now he skis with a prosthetic limb and foot, on which he wears the bootmate to the one on his good foot. However he manages the equipment, you would not know he was handicapped until he takes the prosthesis off to scratch his stump after he takes a fantastic run in steep powder. You really should see this guy ski.

The "new" skis are a cinch to ski while ear-to-ear grinning with just a few pointers. Lucky for you you live in a buyer's market and you are at the high end of the ability range so you're almost guaranteed to get a small group lesson however you decide to go. We'd love to have you join us at ESA, but if you can't, you have a proverbial cornucopia of options living in Colorado Springs.
post #7 of 14
excellent advice above, therusty hit it right on. Ski instruction doesn't have to be "hard" to be productive. Weather you are a 8 or 9 wouldn't matter that much, but if it is moguls you like, tell the supervisor or ticket desk person (or both) that you want a mogul lesson. A good instructor would dedicate some of the lesson time to technique, that applies to, but not in the bumps which would be a big help. Also, level 8 & 9 groups are often small (espicially during the week) and you could get the individual attention you need. Some of the lower level fundimentals are also necessary to review to get the whole picture of modern skiing, this is what ssh is refering to with her advice about instructor trainning. With an open mind, there is a lot to be learned from a lesson that seens too easy if you are willing to learn.

I have worked with a lot of people with adaptive issues that were a result of injuries. Their ability to tell me up-front of what abilities thay have and that are weak saved me a lot of time as far as comming up with adaptations in technique that worked for them. I think any highly qualified instructor could also do that for you.

Good luck and I hope this helps you.

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
First, thank you everyone for your replies, they've been very helpful. I also kind of feel like I started a thread and then abandoned it - I had a very long weekend for a variety of reasons, and not all of them "good."

Anyway, back to the subject. I think I'm going to try and get the unlimited lessons package at Breck (I spend most of my time on mountain either there or A-Basin). Ya'll have pretty much confirmed what I thought: that it would be a good idea. I was also gratified to find out that I could "blow off" a lower level lesson once I had gleaned what I needed (my suspicion is that I need to work on some of skills taught in the "lower" levels - but that I don't necessarily need a "full" lesson at that level, i.e. an hour would be good, but four hours might be painful). So - that being said - if I do find myself in a lower level lesson in order to fill in some "holes" in my technique, what would be the etiquette to leave the lesson early if I need to? (And, reverse the question as well: what if I find myself in over my head? I definitely don't want to hold others back.)

Next portion - I think that it may have gotten overstated on how bad the earlier injury was. Some of the sensory nerves were irrepairably damaged - nearly 8 years later and I still can't feel a decent chunk of my left ankle. But, the motor skills have pretty much come completely back - I just found myself essentially having to "retrain" my leg to move like it was supposed to. I wasn't aware of this when I first put skis back on - I had been walking, running, etc without problem for nearly 6 months, but skiing requires more, well, precise movements than does running and walking, and I not only wasn't able to make those movements, but I was unaware that I wasn't able to make them until I tried to, failed, and killed the shoulder as a result. But, long story short, I'm pretty sure that I am now as capable of making the proper movements as any other healthy adult - it's just that instead of having 20 years of skiing "muscle memory" to rely on, I essentially only have 7.

ssh: right now I'm planning on trying to make the demo day on the 19th, this coming weekend's schedule is a nightmare ;-). I'd love to meet a few bears, draw on some knowledge/experience and have some fun making new friends! On ESA, I'd love to, but unfortunately, both ESA weekends conflict with prior plans.

Once again, thanks everyone for your input!

post #9 of 14

I should have added: Let the instructor know ahead of time that you are planning on leaving early.

Please let us know if you are able to get the unlimited lesson plan at Breck. Since it's not on their web site, it would be nice to confirm the details of this program.
post #10 of 14
The Breck unlimited program is alive and well.
You must have a Colorado Pass or Buddy Pass.
They do not advertise it on their website.
They usually send a flyer with your season pass
materials. I believe the deadline for signing
up for the program is December 11, 2005.
post #11 of 14

You might want to consider a group lesson at Loveland. At your higher level, you will either be in a very small group or get a one-on-one lesson for the group rate, even on a weekend. The normal group lesson goes for 2 1/2 hours, a one person group 1 1/2 hours. If you are thinking of taking several lessons, Loveland has a 3-Class Pass where for $100 more than the price of the 3 lessons you also get a season pass.

post #12 of 14
Originally Posted by jake75
ssh: right now I'm planning on trying to make the demo day on the 19th, this coming weekend's schedule is a nightmare ;-). I'd love to meet a few bears, draw on some knowledge/experience and have some fun making new friends! On ESA, I'd love to, but unfortunately, both ESA weekends conflict with prior plans.
Jake, watch the Meet on the Hill thread for details on hooking up the 19th, ok?

You know that the Snowbird ESA is 29 Jan-2 Feb, right (Sun-Thu).
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by ssh
Jake, watch the Meet on the Hill thread for details on hooking up the 19th, ok?
I will do that
You know that the Snowbird ESA is 29 Jan-2 Feb, right (Sun-Thu).
Yeah, my annual "free" mini-vacation to San Diego runs through that Monday .

post #14 of 14

The Brek deal sounds too good to pass up! If you ever have a chance, try to ski with a Level III or experienced Level II Adaptive instructor. They are trained to detect problems that are the result of physical limitatations and they have an unbelievable bag of tricks to help you overcome them.

Good luck!

Mountain Geo
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