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Info Help, NZ compared to US ski instructors?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi all!

Haven't been around for a while, I've been busy. (Yes, for like three years.) But I am looking for some info and remembered this place, I just knew that I might find the answers here, If I remember there were a few members from New Zealand who could help.

I would like to find out the differences, if any, in the teaching methods and/or the public perception of ski instructors in New Zealand, as compared with US ski instructors, in a very general sense...

Are they more "Old school"? Are their teaching methods more ridgid, strict perhaps? Is it like Austria where ski instructors are treated like rock stars? is the whole sport more mainstream than it is here?

I would appreciate the help, see, I'm writing a book. (No, really, I am.) and if it turns out to be the Great American Ski Novel, and I make zillions of dollars, Ill be sure to remember you all and the forum on the "Thanks to..." page....

thanks all:

post #2 of 15
Hi LindaA,

I won't be able to give you much info on the NZSIA teaching style or methods as I am a CSIA/CSCF member but I have spent the last two summers teaching and coaching at the Whakapapa ski field on Mt. Ruapehu in New Zealand. I'll give you a little bit of insight from what I've seen down there these past 2 seasons.

From what I've read, New Zealand's immigration standards are quite high and unless you have a profession that's on their high-demand list (can't remember the exact name of said list) it is very difficult to be admitted to the country as a worker. Fortunately, for myself and many other internationals, ski and snowboard instructors are considered high in demand and as long as one gets an offer to work for a ski field there one can return as much as they want. Therefore a great deal of the instructors working over there are very highly qualified and a high proportion of them are from overseas. Mt. Ruapehu stated publicly that 55% of their entire mountain staff were foreign workers this year. I would hedge a bet that 75-80% of the snow school staff were foreign.

Sadly, the bulk of the New Zealand skiing/boarding public fails to take advantage of the highly professional/qualified staff their ski fields employ. Most of the lessons we teach are beginner lessons and they can be chaotic at times. My personal record for beginners in my group was 28 this season. Beyond the beginner level, New Zealanders (Kiwis) seem to develop a "bugger this, I'll figure it out myself" sort of attitude and it's very difficult to sell advanced lessons there. At Mt. Ruapehu it's pretty much unheard for people to book lessons for any more than 2 hrs at a time. Beginner lessons are 1.5 hrs long and that's often the ONLY lesson a Kiwi will ever take. The sport is definitely NOT "mainstream" (Rugby is king over all) and often, a Kiwi that shows up for a ski lesson has never seen snow in his/her life.

Public perception is that an instructor is just another mountain employee and they expect us to be just as professional, helpful, and friendly as anyone else that works on the mountain. An instructor's personal skiing ability means absolutely nothing to the average kiwi skier and as long as they have a good time and stay safe during their 1.5 hr lesson, they walk away happy and may even request a 2nd lesson! Instructors with ego and with expectations to be treated like gods (and it's funny you mention Austrians, we had a few of those on staff in 2004) do NOT last long there.

It's a great place to work if you're an open-minded instructor. The amount of tips and advice I received from my co-workers over these past 2 years has been invaluable. The amount of different nationals working as snow school this season was incredible and included (but possibly not limited to) Canadian, American, Australian, Kiwi, British, Scottish, French, German, Austrian, Swiss, Argentinian, Japanese, Irish and Swedish.

Hope this helps. For more info on the NZSIA check their website at http://www.nzsia.net/ or check out Mt. Ruapehu's snow school webpage at http://www.mtruapehu.com/ss_whakapapa.asp for info on the snow school products we offer.

Cheers! Ian
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much

Perfect! that was just the information I needed, thank you so much.

Of course, this means great changes in the book but thats ok. I was under the ipression that since kiwi's are known as all around outdoorsy types, that skiing would have been far more popular, people born skiing, that sort of thing. Instructors as gods...glad I asked.

Im having trouble with the link to your ski school, though, doesn't seem to want to open, but it seems its trouble on their side? could the link be down because the schools closed now?
post #4 of 15
Yeah I see what you mean. The link worked when I posted the message but it's not working for me now either. In fact, Mt. Ruapehu's whole website seems to be down. They might be changing it over to summer mode. Maybe just bookmark Mt. Ruapehu's site URL ( http://www.mtruapehu.com ) or just try the links from here at a near-future date.
post #5 of 15
Welcome back Linda. Your book sounds intriguing. You may want to PM Julie from New Zealand. http://forums.epicski.com/member.php?u=2574
Good luck!
post #6 of 15
Originally Posted by LindaA
.... I was under the ipression that since kiwi's are known as all around outdoorsy types, that skiing would have been far more popular, people born skiing, that sort of thing. Instructors as gods...
Interesting comment, which reflects on the different attitude that people from Un Zed and Oz have towards those who achieve excellence, in any field.

There are a lot of contradictions: A sporting champion is held in higher regard than a Nobel Laureate; the “tall poppy” syndrome ensures that nobody gets placed on a pedestal (they are soon cut down to size). However, there is a perverse expectation that our performance, sporting or otherwise (but mostly sporting), will always be world class; and, if it isn’t, then it couldn’t be that important anyway. Hence, particularly in the competitive sports that we choose to participate in (which is mainly to do with beating the Poms), we have become notoriously bad losers.
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
How interesting, there are real contradictions there, and its absolutley fascinating. Not only for the purpose of writing this book, but also because I am fascinated by all things cultural and sociological. I might even consider writing a paper on something to that effect soon. Then, of course, I might have to take a "business trip" for the purpose of research....hmmm.

(I am assuming that the "Poms" have to do with Rugby? that seems to be all I read about trying to study the sporting world. That, and something called Cumberland A & P. A very popular event, there)

Oh yea, I found a delicious recipie for something called "pasties." (That means something very different here in the States!) As soon as I figure out what all the ingredients are, I'm going to try some.

but, back to the book...

I am interested in what challenges a ski instructor from NZ would face if he came here to the US to teach. I was thinking originally that he would be dissapointed that the US students didn't seem to take skiing or any outdoor sport as seriously as the Kiwi's do. He might have come off as being more strict, or serious in his teaching methods.

But now, I guess he would be surprised by how serious the US students are about this? I wonder what his biggest challenge would be while adjusting to teaching here.

Thanks for the info!
post #8 of 15
Most major resorts who sponsor visas for foreign instructors have a number of Kiwis working in their ski schools.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi Lisa! Hows the new acl?

Mine's fine. doesn't like it when it rains. I think I'll be needing some work done on the other one soon, that tends to ache from time to time and I dont know why. The one I had the acl/mcl done feels great most of the time.

Yes, this book was demanding to be written, for a long time. I thought I would get it out of the way this month. (See www.nanowrimo.org)

I am struggling to make it a mainstream light comedy, but I keep putting so much gratuitous skiing in it that It will NEVER be mainstream. It was supposed to be about something else, with skiing in it, introducing people who don't ski to the world of skiing, while following the plot. but the skiing chapters are turning out to be thirty pages and everything else gets five pages or so.

Oh well. at least it will be down on paper and then I can edit during the re-write!
post #10 of 15

There is a kiwi company that trains instructors both here in NZ at Treble Cone, and at Keystone in the US. I know of several who gained their Level 1 instructors here in NZ and were offered jobs at Keystone the following year. So whatever method these guys teach is accepted inthe US. They have a website


Dean and Garret are approachable and friendly so they may answer some questions for you.

Kiwis get lessons when they first start out, but don't tend to do it on a regular basis after that. Not sure why, it may be the money thing. But I think there is a culture here that lessons are for when you are starting out. Rugby is considered by the bulk of the population to be our national sport, which conflicts with skiing. They take it serioulsy and I've met some players who would not ski until the rugby season ended in fear of injuring themselves. The kiwi culture is a very much 'do it yourself', and guys only read the instructions when all else fails.

Because we live below the snow line in winter, snow is not as much a part of our lives as it is in areas where the snow lies thorughout winter. So we can play sports in winter that require grass fields like rugby, soccer, or anything that is played outside. We have to drive up a mountain road to get to the snow, which can be daunting for the uninitiated, so for the bulk of the population they may not even have any contact with snow ever during winter. With the exception of Christchurch, all our cities are a 3 to 4 hours drive from a ski area. So skiing involves a big trip in the car and accomodation on top of usual skiing costs.
post #11 of 15
Hi Linda! ACL is doing well. I'm familiar with NaNoWriMo. Check out http://absolutewrite.com/forums/
A bunch of people are participating. I was also working ona ski novel for awhile until I re-read it and realized it was absolute trash!

Good luck! I see from your profile you are already at 37, 000 words. Way to go!
post #12 of 15
What I heard from an American ski instructor who spent a summer down there is consistent with what Greenecoach said. He (my friend) has taught here and in Germany and in New Zealand. He said that NZ has people running through classes like some assembly line and the classes are huge. He liked the New Zealanders, but he hated the teaching situation and doesn't plan to repeat the experience.
post #13 of 15
Originally Posted by julie from nz

Dean and Garret are approachable and friendly so they may answer some questions for you.
I remember being made by Garrett to ski the entire length of Schoolmarm at Keystone on one ski! Then the other one.
post #14 of 15
ant - I saw them doing that with their students this season at Treble Cone, so it is still in their teaching plan
post #15 of 15
One footed skiing is big in Australia and NZ, I guess because it's hard, and features in exams. We were training for level II, so he decided we should do that.
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