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Unbridled Avarice?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I am a newbie part-time instructor at a mountain west resort which will remain nameless. I don't want to start off a sh1@storm, so I apologize in advance, but I witnessed something totally shocking today. Maybe it's just my lack of experience with such things, but this was seriously disturbing on a number of levels. I was on the schedule to instruct today, and showed up at the assigned time to see if there was a group for me to take out. It was a busy day, as I hear this time usually is. Now I know that I'm at the bottom of the list, given that I'm a newb still working on my PSIA Level One. However, I saw groups of up to 12 going out at levels 2 and 3. They didn't even break them up into smaller groups, even though there were a lot of instuctors standing around willing to work. The same thing happened in the afternoon, so I went without a group today. However, it was not just newbs like me--even experienced instructors were let go even with the huge groups. Now my interpretation of this is that the resort is too cheap to break up the groups and assign additional instructors. Is this pretty common in everyone's experience? :

I understand that the resort needs to make money, especially in peak periods, but this seems like unbridled avarice to me. These groups of 12 going out were paying in excess of $1000 gross ($70-80 per student) to the resort. Assuming that the average instructor is making $10 an hour (though I suspect this is a bit high), and this is a 3 hour lesson (thus $30 to the instructor), the resort is making a 97% profit. Even if the classes were limited to 4 students we're still talking in excess of 90% profit. Does the resort really need to be this greedy?

This also appears to be short-sighted. The students are probably not going to get their money's worth. Even with a great instructor, how much attention can be given to each student? Wouldn't it be better in the long run to give the students the best experience possible so that they come back and stay with the sport for the long term?
post #2 of 15
Fortunately, in my experience this isn't very common. But, it does happen. Who was supervising? If it wasn't the SSD, talk with the SSD about your concerns. If it was, get your cert and then find another place to teach.
post #3 of 15


Ski Head, Yeah doing that with instructors to spare is either $ oriented or just plain stupid. Maybe even a combo of both. I have taught at 3 diff resorts at Tahoe & Idaho and I've never seen it that bad. However stick around newbies have to pay theirdues, get your level 1 and chances are you will enjoy. A relatively common occurrence is greatskier does not mean you are good at management, supervision etc. I heard one instructor tell us lowly insructors that he could treach 40 never evers and they'd all be happy and skiing in 1 1/2 hours. Yep-and I am an Olympic champion, own Vail and am the best.................... You are going to see some things in the ski business that defy logic etc. but you more importantly will meet some of the very best friends you will ever have. Good luck, relax, take it in and enjoy the good don't dwell on the stupid.
post #4 of 15
12 in a group is too many IMHO. Some areas have "full timers" that only get paid by the lessons taught, and in some cases, by the number of students in the class. They are the ones that are given the assignments before the part time staff. Some of it is a mangement decision to make money also. As a new instructor, it may be worth while to shadow some lessons (ask first) if you are cut loose from your lesson duties, to see how the more experienced L2 and L3 instructors manage such a large group.
At my area, we try to limit groups to a max of 8, and if I have a group of kids, I woun't go out if I have more than that number. 8 + 1 = 9, or three triple chairs of kids is plenty, although I have done more in extreeme cases.

post #5 of 15
Talking to the SSD may brand you as a whiner and put you on "the list". The management is usually behind the deci$ion$ on keeping the profit line high and that sure is a way to do it.

Just hang in there and get your hours (that you'll need) to take the L-1 exam. If you are getting the hours and you are getting the free ski time that you need ..... hang in there and search for greener pastures next season.

Don't expect to make a pile of cash teaching. I ran in the red every season .. and at todays gas prices .... whoooooooo boy ... when you factor in uniform purchase/rental etc.

When you visit other areas talk to other instructors about how they are treated.

Make sure you save all of your paychecks to document hours for the PSIA cause if you move .... they may just "be too busy" to provide the info that you will need later ..... Xerox all checks and save the lesson stubs for classes taught.
post #6 of 15
Crap - I could of gone freeskiing! Where is this resort that lets you free ski instead of work?

I taught a lesson today to one person because he only spoke Spanish and we did not want to put him in with a group of FIVE. Of course I don't speak Spanish, so I had to do the lesson in Rusty sign language. Is it avarice if we both had fun?
post #7 of 15
I know a resort in Australia where the SSD will go around combining groups that are already formed, to avoid paying instructors. Top that!
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

I guess we're screwed...

So I guess the long suffering instructors get treated like dog sh1t and there's nothing we can do about it. At least I got a free pass.
post #9 of 15
After teaching at Boston Mills/Brandywine my first reaction was, 12 is not a very big number. At Snowtrails where I teach now, 12 is a big number. 40 is not unheard of at Boston Mills and that is for a 1 hour lesson. No the instructor is not paid a head count, only their hourly rate. Instructor clinics do not go out there with less than the 10 minimum.

I find the practice you have encountered not uncommon in Ohio.
post #10 of 15
Wow, I've had to teach 12 plenty of times but that was only out of necessity. There is nothing like bringing back a lesson only to see a line of beginners and no instructors standing there.

I end up having to do a lot of individual tasks because usually the skill level is all over the map.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 

# of students

I could understand it if there were not enough instructors available--that's just an unfortunate situation. In my case there were plenty of available instructors, the supervisor just chose not to break up into smaller groups.

I'd like to PSIA level one cert. but I'm wondering if I'll be able to get enough hours this season with the policies as they are.
post #12 of 15
Keep in mind that when Karl Marx coined the phrase "the exploitation of the downtrodden worker" he was thinking of ski instructors. You will be paid in the Glory, Honor, Prestige and Status of strutting around in the uniform parka. The ski area gets the money.
post #13 of 15
Originally Posted by skiingheadcase
I'd like to PSIA level one cert. but I'm wondering if I'll be able to get enough hours this season with the policies as they are.
In most regions, training hours count towards the required hours. Take clinics. If your cheap o resort won't clinic you when you're not teaching, then they'll probably sign your level 1 exam application anyway.
post #14 of 15

Braking wedge, ride the lift.

I am a part time instructor.

I've gone out for 90 minute lesson with groups of 15 first-time beginners with 1/3 to 1/2 of them being the sedentary type. There is not a whole lot you can do other than to get them straight down the beginner run in a wedge... once. And, that's about all that is expected out of instructors.

I'd much rather have a maximum of 8. That would be much more enoyable for both the instructor and the students. The students certainly get a lot more out of smaller class sizes, and linked turns are not out of the question.

When the issue of class size comes up with the long term instructors who are running the show, the discussion always turns into how in the eighties, they would turn away 100 instructor candidates in the beginning of the season and have beginner classes with 40 students.
post #15 of 15
Thanks for making me feel good. Last year I worked at Alpine Valley in Ohio. I worked full time and led the ski school in hours taught. There was only one time that I had a class of 13 students. Usually I had only a few students. There were a couple times where the splits were bad and I had students ranging from level 3 to 7, but that was driven by a lack of available instructors, not greed.

This year I am working at Alyeska. I had a lesson of 7 last week, but we had two instructors assigned. We have been slow because the weather hasn't been great, but at least our SSD isn't trying to extract every penny out of each lesson.

My experience has been postitive in regard to lesson size. There is no way I could make a living at either place. Here with only 5 hours of daylight, even a busy day barely pays the gas to get to the resort. This thread is making me feel better about the financial side of teaching. At least my lessons are usually manageable and the customers are getting good value.
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