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Make Your Own Epic Academy

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
VSP's recent thread on private instructional costs at Vail prompted me to post something I've always meant to comment on. I was involved with the planning and organization of the first Epic Ski Academy. While I think that it has matured into a fine "product" I think that it has only addressed a part of the potential that Epic Ski opens up. During the founding discussions for the ESA many Epic members expressed desires for opportunities to ski with multiple Epic coaches, ski with specific coaches, ski with coaches for a day or two and go off and work on their own, etc.

Epic affords an opportunity to learn about and understand the approaches and philosophies of the instructors and coaches who post here. This affords a valuable opportunity to learn about and even develop a dialog with someone before choosing them as your instructor or coach.

My thought is that any member can informally (or perhaps formally if Epic were to offer support this idea) arrange for a group lesson with the Epic instructor or coach of their choice. I don't know if this is possible at all resorts but I was able to do this recently with Wigs at Aspen. If you brought your own group it could be a closed group but I don't see too much risk at signing up for a group lesson given that you have an instructor who knows you and can work to assure you of a reasonable mix within your group. This can be done for a day or two or for a full week's camp experience.

As the cost of a full day group lesson is probably less expensive than most camps this creates what I think is a great opportunity for Epic Members. I realize it may not be possible at some resorts but I suspect that it can happen at many places.

Anecdotally, when I was at Aspen there wasn't a 100% assurance I could ski with Wigs. However, knowing Wigs I would have either skied with the assigned coach (based on recommendation) or I could have chosen to wait for another day. It worked out with no problem.
post #2 of 22
Si,

I feel you have a good idea and it could offer quality instruction at an affordable price. The classes would have to be grouped with similar abilities and the lesson dispatcher would have to know in advance of the disered assignment.

I have had the pleasure of providing private instruction through our central reservations to some of Epic's members. Some people benefit more from individual instruction than from a group setting. Either way, it is good for Epic's menbers to know that it's instructors are accessable to them in private instruction and with a possibility of group instruction.

RW
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron White View Post
Si,

... The classes would have to be grouped with similar abilities and the lesson dispatcher would have to know in advance of the desired assignment. ...

RW
Absolutely Ron, to work well this has to occur at a resort that works to accommodate return/request group lessons. Also, the instructor must be assigned to the right area for the time of the visit and not be encumbered with a group wishing to continue on from the previous day.

I skied with Wigs for 2 days. The first day included a very nice guy in our group who really wasn't up to "level." For me, this was no problem at all. First of all there's not much in terms of focus and drills I can't learn from. Second I normally charge pretty hard so a slower day of coaching, thinking more about a defined focus, skiing slower, having short rests before taking on the next pitch, etc. was a nice change of pace. Finally, I enjoyed and learned from a day of observing the interaction between Wigs and this person. I have a lot of "coach" in me and I found the opportunity to observe and compare my own thoughts with Wigs' to be very stimulating.

On the second day we excluded a very nice woman who was probably just a bit slower and lower level than the guy from the first day. After the first short pitch to test things out (you self assign yourself in Aspen) the day's coordinator had no problem with Wigs' assessment to move this skier to another group.

OK, that said, my prior relationship with Wigs is what made this work. I don't find the "risk" of skiing with an unknown coach or instructor in a blind situation to be worth it (hence I don't do it). Personally, it would be more than I would want to deal with to have people in my group at varying levels and a coach that I would have to build an understanding with from scratch.
post #4 of 22
Si,

This of course is what we chatted about while you were here, and I think it's something we can explore. To really make this work well, the team would have to match within a half level to have a solid skiing group at whatever level. The group would have to communicate amongst one another before hand to make sure that the group would work well together.

Just for yours and the forums information, an all day private here in Aspen next year will be around $565.00. If you had five participants, it would be $113.00 a day for the clinic per day and this would be a six hour day.------Wigs
post #5 of 22
Good idea, Si.
Cirquerider, Sierra Jim and I were talking about the same idea. they were going to get 5 or 6 other friends and do something like 1 day each month with Eric D and/or me at Sugar Bowl. That ends up being around $100 per day at regular price for one coach, but with a commitment to 5 or so, Eric said it could be a bit less. Then we'll ski together, the participants have time to work on what we learned and bring back their refined skills the next month. It works through allmountainskipros but they create their own group that skis similiar level, speed and terrain... After skiing with them, I'm excited about the idea and they can get the benefits of how Eric D and I play off each others strengths and weaknesses... (I'm the slow talentless skier and he rips... )

Cheers,
Holiday
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
Holiday,

I've got a conference out at Squaw next year in February I think. Maybe I could join the group if they met for one day while I was out there! Both you and Eric are guys I know I'd enjoy skiing with - also, Sierra Jim and Cirquerider from what they post.
post #7 of 22
Si, it would be great to have you join the group. One thing I think needs to be clear. This is not a competitor for the ESA experience. It is a way to get quality coaching on your own schedule, meeting your own defined needs and goals. Like yourself, we do this a day at a time and return for seconds or thirds as needed. The ESA experience is built around the camp immersion idea, which focuses on both an instruction and social experience for the 2 to four days of the camp, includes extras like boot fitting, technical seminars, physical conditioning, video sessions and the unique experience of a group from all over the world coming together for a common cause.

Both approaches have their merit. Personally, I think ESA misses the boat by not offering smaller weekend events in regional areas. But I am also aware that it takes Joan many weeks of work to organize even a single event as it is, and all the risk of success or failure falls on her and the EpicSki Academy. So, I think the business model is one of full service camps with a high rate of return for its customers. What we are talking about here is freelance organization of top instructors. I'm way ahead of you, on how this is beneficial to my personal schedule and budget, but its not an ESA. BTW, along the same lines, lets see if we can set up a day with Bob Peters at Jackson Hole next year.

Holiday, great skiing with you. I'm looking forward to picking up the ball next year. (and if your the slow talentless skier, I'm reluctant to imagine where that leaves me).
post #8 of 22

Another Way

I think that all of these ideas are very good. However, for advanced/expert skiers it is very easy to get top level coaching at a good price. Take an all day group lesson. For this to be effective you really have to do it out west and maybe Stowe. When you are at that level you almost always end up by yourself in an all day private. Over the past years I have had recognizable names such as:

Stu Campbell, Victor Gerdin, Jerry Berg, Scott Mathers Franz Fuchsberger, Pepi Stiegler

I have also had some people that I had never heard of that are great such as:

George Perry, Jean-Luc Gibassier, Darren Woo, Jean-Pierre Bernos

Have I had a few duds? Absolutely. In recent years at JH, they seem to assign a lot of kids to teach those groups and they just don't have the eye or confidence to give you feedback. When I get a real dud I simply complain and get a refund and another instructor assigned the next day.
post #9 of 22
We have no problem with anyone organizing a group to book an instructor at his or her place of employment. We are happy to serve as a conduit for such arrangements. As Cirque notes, ESA is a full service ski academy that takes a great deal of organization to pull off successfully. I don't know that we have missed any boat regarding regional weekend academies, since we do the one early December weekend at Stowe already, and would consider doing more of these in the future, though I would be unwilling to organize educational events on high season weekends because crowded slopes can severely impact risk management and the learning environment.
post #10 of 22
Very Interested.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
Si, it would be great to have you join the group.
Thanks Cirque. That is a very generous offer (especially since I was thinking that I might have inappropriately invited myself .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
One thing I think needs to be clear. This is not a competitor for the ESA experience. It is a way to get quality coaching on your own schedule, meeting your own defined needs and goals. Like yourself, we do this a day at a time and return for seconds or thirds as needed. The ESA experience is built around the camp immersion idea, which focuses on both an instruction and social experience for the 2 to four days of the camp, includes extras like boot fitting, technical seminars, physical conditioning, video sessions and the unique experience of a group from all over the world coming together for a common cause.
Granted that I was only involved in the establishment of the ESA for the first year but I did originally propose the term "Academy" for it. To me the idea of an Academy broadly included much potential. Opportunity for the immersive experience of the ESA camps as they work now; opportunity for extending discussion of technique, tactics, equipment, alignment, etc. from the Epic forums to face to face and on-mountain interactions between participant; opportunities to ski and learn from a variety of Epic coaches with different approaches and philosophies; opportunities for follow up to coaching sessions on-line; opportunities for different formats including the "extension course" format we are discussing here; ... (I can readily go on and an with this). My point is that I would hope that even an informal involvement of Epic such as members signing up for standard group lessons with other Epic coaches could be considered a part of larger, ever expanding, Epic Ski Academy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
Both approaches have their merit. Personally, I think ESA misses the boat by not offering smaller weekend events in regional areas. But I am also aware that it takes Joan many weeks of work to organize even a single event as it is, and all the risk of success or failure falls on her and the Epic Ski Academy. So, I think the business model is one of full service camps with a high rate of return for its customers. What we are talking about here is freelance organization of top instructors. I'm way ahead of you, on how this is beneficial to my personal schedule and budget, but its not an ESA.
Given what I said above, I would hope that such opportunities would be considered part of a broader concept of the Epic Ski Academy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
BTW, along the same lines, lets see if we can set up a day with Bob Peters at Jackson Hole next year.
I visit with Bob in JH just about every winter (and some summers!). I'm happy to let you know when my 2008 trip will be. It would be great to get a few more people out for that week.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
Holiday, great skiing with you. I'm looking forward to picking up the ball next year. (and if your the slow talentless skier, I'm reluctant to imagine where that leaves me).
I'm sure I'm in the same boat (or maybe even a slower boat) than you in this respect.
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 

Avoiding the Duds

Quote:
Originally Posted by volklskier1 View Post
I think that all of these ideas are very good. However, for advanced/expert skiers it is very easy to get top level coaching at a good price. Take an all day group lesson. For this to be effective you really have to do it out west and maybe Stowe. When you are at that level you almost always end up by yourself in an all day private. Over the past years I have had recognizable names such as:

Stu Campbell, Victor Gerdin, Jerry Berg, Scott Mathers Franz Fuchsberger, Pepi Stiegler

I have also had some people that I had never heard of that are great such as:

George Perry, Jean-Luc Gibassier, Darren Woo, Jean-Pierre Bernos

Have I had a few duds? Absolutely. In recent years at JH, they seem to assign a lot of kids to teach those groups and they just don't have the eye or confidence to give you feedback. When I get a real dud I simply complain and get a refund and another instructor assigned the next day.
I agree with you totally Volklskier1, only why not avoid the duds through Epic Ski contacts. I don't think it's generally an easy process or readily available option to request a particular instructor (or a possible 2 or 3 instructors). However, if you know an instructor at a large western resort and they are willing to help you it may be possible to set up such opportunities either with that instructor (if they are available for adult group lessons) or someone they recommend.

BTW, that's an impressive list of coaches you've had experiences with! I too would love to ski with George Perry and through this process that we are discussing I think it may happen sometime.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Si View Post
only why not avoid the duds through Epic Ski contacts.

BTW, that's an impressive list of coaches you've had experiences with! I too would love to ski with George Perry and through this process that we are discussing I think it may happen sometime.
I agree Si......You can't usually request for a group though and it's abit unfair also because it usually effects their pay. For those who can't join up, I just wanted to point out the alternative.



post #14 of 22
The most difficult part of this process is getting the maximum bang for your buck. If you can't directly contract with the instructors you want, then you are paying a ski school (management) the majority of your tuition costs. Top level instructors will work with you for $250 to $500 per day, but if the ski area or other overhead bureaucracy imposes their "private lesson retail price" things get a lot less flexible. In the case of working with Wade and Eric, that problem basically doesn't exist as they can work within the agreements of the All Mountain Ski Pros to provide a custom arrangement that doesn't violate ski area policy. That flexibility is rare.

The Tahoe ESA almost didn't happen because the ski areas here asked for an insurance certificate for Epic to run a ski school. Arrangements at Squaw ended up having their instructor trainer joining the ESA groups so that the ESA could be conducted as a part of the Squaw Ski School. That meant the ESA incurred the additional cost of an instructor who was not directly assigned any students. I'd like to see more independent options out there, where the best instruction talent can be hired at will, but they seem to be rare. Part of what makes ESA unique is the use of Demo team and Examiner level instructors who may be from Aspen, Vail or Heavenly, and they are working at camps in a completely different ski area or State from their "home" ski area and as an All-Star team.
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by volklskier1 View Post
I agree Si......You can't usually request for a group though and it's abit unfair also because it usually effects their pay. For those who can't join up, I just wanted to point out the alternative.


Agreed. However, most of my point is that through Epic ski we have some ability, through inside connections - if and when available, to make a coach request for a group lesson. Perhaps some of the instructors here might comment whether that possibility exists at their resort. It does at Aspen at least as a return request. Also, if the instructor is assigned to group lessons for that period I don't think it should affect their pay.

Also, your comments bring up another point I had wanted to make. It is just pretty great that there are instructors like Wigs out there who will go out of there way to make a special opportunity for a fellow Epic member. I recognize and appreciate that this takes special effort. I don't think any member here should expect such opportunity unless it's offered. Obviously, though, there are a few instructors here who are willing to do a little extra based on relationships formed here at Epic. I certainly don't expect this or take it for granted. I am, however, extremely grateful for such opportunities.
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Si View Post

I visit with Bob in JH just about every winter (and some summers!). I'm happy to let you know when my 2008 trip will be. It would be great to get a few more people out for that week.
Thanks for the vote of confidence, fellas.

I'm not sure that my eye is necessarily the right one for complex technical instruction, however. I'm a little more of a "let's ski over there and see how it goes" kind of instructor.

For this kind of august group, I'm pretty certain I could get my business partner to act as instructor. He's a former World Cupper and junior team head coach. He most definitely DOES have an eye for technique flaws and doesn't sugarcoat his feedback (as I know from experience). In a nice kind of way, that is.

Anyway, it's a great idea. I'd love to see a group of you come visit.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Si View Post

Agreed. However, most of my point is that through Epic ski we have some ability, through inside connections - if and when available, to make a coach request for a group lesson. Perhaps some of the instructors here might comment whether that possibility exists at their resort. It does at Aspen at least as a return request. Also, if the instructor is assigned to group lessons for that period I don't think it should affect their pay.
It does here in Jackson as well.

There are a couple of ways to wiggle around the high price of a private by asking for a group or package lesson but with a particular instructor. The only caveat is that the individual instructor has to agree to take the "group" on that basis because it does mean a bit of potential decrease in pay versus a private (or best of all, a request private).

Some instructors are a little reluctant to do that. I'm not.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by volklskier1 View Post
I agree Si......You can't usually request for a group though and it's abit unfair also because it usually effects their pay. For those who can't join up, I just wanted to point out the alternative.



Volklskier,

By setting up a group of skiers ahead of time for a group clinic really doesn't affect the Pros pay. But with one person, it sometimes can be difficult. In my case, I would be working anyway and the pay is the same. Although, as I mentioned in my post above, if there are five skiers in the group, it's much more cost effective to get an all day private. It would cost the participants less a day and you would get an extra hour with the Pro. Also the Pro makes more for the day.

BTW, I would love to get George Perry involved in this venue, but he will not commit that much time to being online. I ski with George all the time and will mention your comment that you thought he was a great coach.----Wigs
post #19 of 22
post #20 of 22
I for one am very interested in something like this. The only issue is I'm not yet at a similar level to Cirquerider and company. My ripping is still a season or three in the making. I'd love to set up a high intermediate/advanced group though if such a thing would have enough folks.

For now I will be rolling the dice on level 7 group lessons at Heavenly. Who knows, maybe I'll luck in to another session with Robin or Mike!

-Adam
post #21 of 22
I thought Heavenly was in its last week of operation?

Anyway, don't be surprised if we don't set up several groups. SierraJim will be working on promoting some opportunities through the Sierra Ski and Snowboard site, and I think we definitely have some interest running. Besides, from what I saw of you this year, and considering your age, you will be ripping ahead of me before too long.
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
I thought Heavenly was in its last week of operation?
They are set to close on the 22nd. I took a powder lesson there on Thursday and it was fantastic. Only about 6" of fresh, but my instructor knew some pretty good stashes. Ran in to Robin and she pointed out a couple more, so we got freshies on Friday, too. It might be the end of the season, but the snow is still as good as its been!

Definitely count me in for a few build your own epic style lessons at the advanced level next season. And thanks for putting in the time to organize such a thing. Let me know if there's any help I can provide.

-Adam
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