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When did lessons become the "in" thing?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Okay, so I may be leading a bit with the title, but seriously.
When I learned to ski in 1984, by my boyfriend, lessons were almost unheard of.
Maybe I was just unaware, being the Noobie, but I don't recall hearing much about getting a qualified instructor for a beginner until the late 90's.

Look at the stories, on this board, of how people got started.
Most learned from a parent, sibling, or buddy.

I appreciate the fact that I had a boyfriend who was eager to get me on the slopes, but I wish I had been encouraged to take a lesson in the beginning.


When did the campaign "Go with a Pro" start, and when did the availability of a "pro" become forefront?
post #2 of 28
I started skiing quite a bit later than you, TC, but it never occurred to me not to take a lesson. My husband is a good skiier but he can't explain the details of what he's doing. I've tried following him and there's no comparison to following a pro. Maybe the pro is exaggerating all the movements, but it's a lot easier to see what's going on.

Also, luckily for me, the packages that incent beginners (lift ticket, equipment, lesson) seem to be offerred almost everywhere.
post #3 of 28
My guess is with the 2nd generation skier! I was taught by my dad and learned veryone one of his bad habits!

Both of my childern and my wife have learned from instructors. When people ask me why I don't teach them, my response is that I am not a ski instructor. I want my family to be BETTER skiers than I am.
post #4 of 28
I personally had lessons the first 10 or so days I went skiing. All day group lessons.

My kid didn't because she had a mom to teach her. I didn't know ANYONE who skied until after I learned to ski myself. My kid ended up having to chase me and my friends around the mountain for about four years before she had any concentration of lessons and that set was at Club Med because they were included in the price of the vacation and it ended up being an important part of the Club Med thing.

Her most valuable instruction came from when she started racing. She still has, according to her, flaws in her skiing left over from learning from me.
post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
I really think the current climate urges people to get a lesson from someone who's qualified.

In the late 80's, I skied regularly at the same resort as my husband, but not on the same hills. I spent a lot of time on the chair with strangers, and quite often, ski patrollers. I don't recall anyone ever suggesting that I take a lesson. However, many (especially ski patrollers) were happy to give pointers and ski a few runs with me to help me out.

By the end of the 80's I had picked up enough skills to ski with my husband and his buddies, but never took a lesson until ESA Stowe 2006.

Now, I wish I'd started off with a pro.
post #6 of 28
I'm gonna say they baecame the "In" thing in 1931. When they lost thier popularity is a whole 'nother question.
post #7 of 28
I have a little bit different theory. I read an article the other day about how the largest group that pays for personal trainers is in the 30 to 50+ demographic and that the average age of that group is growing as older and older individuals continue to stay fit as they get older. Primarily, I see this as the same group that now, later in their skiing career, is deciding to take lessons because they want to continue their skiing careers later into their life. An entire sub-industry has spawned in the fitness industry that gears workouts, programs, nutrition, and facilities specifically to this aging crowd. This is also the same group that is making sure that their kids do not have to "go through the same things they did" and consequently get their kids into lessons and racing/training of some sort at an early age.

For example you Trekchick - you fit into that demographic quite well. You are very active (riding, volleyball, who knows what else), in good shape, healthy, etc. Now, a few years down the road you are discovering ski instruction, and it's benefits. You aren't a technqiue nut like some of us, but you recognize the usefulness of having a professional coach give you a few pointers now and then. I also suspect that if you were charged with teaching a child (whether it is yours or someone else's) to ski that the first place you would go is the ski school desk at your local mountain.

In addition to culture, I think that the changes in equipement helped to bring a lot of never-ever lesson takers back to the ski school so they "could learn how to use these new shaped skis."

As an aside: Skiing is one of those sports in which is it very easy to separate the trained from the untrained.

Later

GREG
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post
I'm gonna say they baecame the "In" thing in 1931.
Sept 12 2007

Hi EPIC:

When you're right you're right. I know that Tremblant offered "Ski Weeks" since 1939. You're 1931 must refer to areas either in Vermont or New Hampshire (Dartmouth Outing Club, Otto Schniebs at Hanover and the one and only Hannes Schneider at North Conway). When I first started skiing, I went up to Gray Rocks and took their Ski Week. It was a blast. You stay at a four star hotel, all meals included, room service and skiied with the same coach and 8-10 other skiers for 6 days (22 hours of lessons). It was so good that I did it for my first three years skiing. Later on, over the years, I went to Tremblant for their ski week, three times as well also. It was cheaper but didn't offer as many of the amenities as Gray Rocks. It's a shame to see the demise of such a great area (ie Gray Rocks). Both of these areas were started by Americans. The Ryan family at Tremblant and the Wheeler family at Gray Rocks. Lucille Wheeler, the daughter of the founder of Gray Rocks, was downhill bronze medallist in 1956, and North America's first Hahnenkamm champion. She also was World Champion in downhill and GS in 1958.

Cheers.

CP

PS: among great American ski areas still offering ski weeks is the Taos Ski Better Week started by the great Ernie Blake.
post #9 of 28
1931 is when Der weiße Rausch came out which I assume drove some business to Hannes Schneider in St Anton.
post #10 of 28
when I first skied in the 70's it never occurred to me to take a lesson. I got to ski with an instructor sometimes - my friend's big sister - and she'd give us a few pointers.

Back then, I think I thought lessons were for beginners only.

Now I take lessons because I get frustrated with my skiing. And, it's very affordable now with either lesson passes or 4 packs.

Lessons are fun, too. Instructors seem to be generally happy people to ski with, as are most of the students. I get to find places on the mountain I hadn't found on my own.

And, maybe in a few more years, I'll be able to ski moguls!
post #11 of 28

Lessons

HATE TO ADMIT THIS.

In about 1970 our water skiing friends bought us rental gift certificates for Christmas. Went to Soda Springs (Tahoe) on a Tue, $2.00 lift ticket and $2.00 lesson and my wife and I were the only ones in the lesson. So a 2 person private for $4.00. Loved it!!!! Been skiing ever since.Learned how to stop, snowplow, turn, fall, get up, and ride a chairlift. Whopee and we're off.
post #12 of 28
In the early 70's, long skis and east coast ice motivated a lot of people to take lessons. That was also the transition period from leather boots to plastic.
My third day on skis was at Grey Rocks and that ski week was the best investment I ever made in the quality of my skiing. I left a parallel skier and never lingered in stemming.
post #13 of 28
I wis I knew what this Grey Rocks was. Sounds great. Too bad the ski week is dead.
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post
I wis I knew what this Grey Rocks was. Sounds great. Too bad the ski week is dead.
one word: Taos
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post
I wis I knew what this Grey Rocks was. Sounds great. Too bad the ski week is dead.
It was a little ski hill in the Laurentians. If I recall correctly it was just a little closer to Montreal than Tremblant. The skiing was pretty tame, but the service and atmosphere were great, an excellent place for beginners and intermediates to learn to ski.
post #16 of 28
Totally closed now?
post #17 of 28
Looks like it's still a going concern. I don't know if it's the same as it was though, could be under new management. http://www.grayrocks.com/en/grMontagne.htm
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
Looks like it's still a going concern. I don't know if it's the same as it was though, could be under new management. http://www.grayrocks.com/en/grMontagne.htm
Sept 12, 2007

Hi Ghost and EPIC:

You're right on that. It is still in operation but has totally changed in character and isn't what it was in it's heyday. Another interesting tidbit is that both Réal Charette and Ernie McCulloch both "almost" founding members of CSIA are from that region (Laurentians). I think they were the first CSIA Examiners (CSIA Level 4). I've had the pleasure and honor of meeting both of them.

Cheers.

CP
post #19 of 28
Grey Rocks is just a few miles from Mt.Tremblant and about 2 hr. drive from Montreal. Total verticle was around 600 ft. as I remember. A ski week included:
- Stayed in a lodge about 100 yds. from the lifts
- Five full days and a half day on Saturday of skiing with the same instructor in a 10 person group. One day the group would go to Tremblant
- Three of the best meals each day
- Major Apre ski each night, and, that's why my memory is a little blurred
- In it's day the cost was around $600 all inclusive
What's not to like?
post #20 of 28
When I was growing up in the 70's and 80's, you were totally cool if you went to ski school with your ski club. You were even cooler if you passed your lesson. I'll never forget getting my expert patch and being so proud to wear it to school on my ski jacket the next day when I was in 7th grade.

I'm now an instructor at the same ski school where I took my lessons and I ski with the instructor that passed me on my expert lesson whenever I get a chance to. He's 90 this year. He's a level 3. He was working the Grey Wolf series for P.S.I.A. up until a couple of years ago. His name is Archie Noon! He's quite a guy! I've never seen a more graceful skier on the hill. I've been trying to emulate him for years. I consider him my mentor. I hope like hell that I can ski like him when I'm 90!:
post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by med View Post
Grey Rocks is just a few miles from Mt.Tremblant and about 2 hr. drive from Montreal. Total verticle was around 600 ft. as I remember. A ski week included:
- Stayed in a lodge about 100 yds. from the lifts
- Five full days and a half day on Saturday of skiing with the same instructor in a 10 person group. One day the group would go to Tremblant
- Three of the best meals each day
- Major Apre ski each night, and, that's why my memory is a little blurred
- In it's day the cost was around $600 all inclusive
What's not to like?
Sept 12, 2007

Hi Med:

You're memory serves you correctly.

$600.00 all inclusive (but we all chipped in $10-$15 to tip the coach at the end of the week).

Apres Ski. I was always too tired at the end of the day to partaketh too deeply in this enjoyment.

Meals. Great French cuisine. Nothing more to say.

Saturday morning, a group choice to ski or to enter a race. Thursday was a group choice to either ski at home or Tremblant, which added $25.00 (?) to the bill.

Stayed in a four star hotel (not lodge) 100 yards from the lifts. Only down side was crossing the busy road in front of the lodge, er I mean hotel.

600 vertical feet on Sugar Peak.

Arrived Sunday noon to get in a few hours of skiing (gratis, compliments of the management ). Monday morning 200-300 people stood around at the bottom of Sugar Peak. Réal Charette (SSD and he was a big, impressive, handsome man) and two assistants walked around and without even a ski off would say you report to sign post 11 (there were 30+ posts arranged on the outskirts of the gathering area, each with a sign with a number on it). I think that he had so much experience that he could assign people of similar skiing abilities just by observing the clothes, equipment and stance each person persented (with the exception of the top 5-10 classes, depending on the makeup of the skiers for that week, these people would be involved in a brief ski off). In the first two hours, slight adjustments to class membership would be made. Once you're class was formed, you took the double t-bar (one person on each side of a big t-bar) to get up the mountain. Now note that Gray Rocks was famous for teaching beginners, so everything had a purpose and the initial t-bar was so that when you went elsewhere to ski, you would be able to safely use a t-bar, j-bar, poma lift etc (for you youngsters, those lifts, known as surface lifts were still being used right after the dinosaurs went extinct). This double t-bar was the six-pack super lift of it's day. Sugar Peak was small and compact but had all types of terrain for beginners/intermediates to practice on. Mainly long groomed to the hilt runs, with a sprinkling of short steep pitches, short bump runs and I remember most vividly a drop of 10+ feet, where the coach just pointed the tips of his skis down and said "follow me" before he took the leap. Ah, those were the days.

Does this jog your memory at all? Correct me if you see any lapses.

Cheers.

CP
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieP View Post
Sept 12, 2007

Hi Med:

You're memory serves you correctly.

$600.00 all inclusive (but we all chipped in $10-$15 to tip the coach at the end of the week).

Apres Ski. I was always too tired at the end of the day to partaketh too deeply in this enjoyment.

Meals. Great French cuisine. Nothing more to say.

Saturday morning, a group choice to ski or to enter a race. Thursday was a group choice to either ski at home or Tremblant, which added $25.00 (?) to the bill.

Stayed in a four star hotel (not lodge) 100 yards from the lifts. Only down side was crossing the busy road in front of the lodge, er I mean hotel.

600 vertical feet on Sugar Peak.

Arrived Sunday noon to get in a few hours of skiing (gratis, compliments of the management ). Monday morning 200-300 people stood around at the bottom of Sugar Peak. Réal Charette (SSD and he was a big, impressive, handsome man) and two assistants walked around and without even a ski off would say you report to sign post 11 (there were 30+ posts arranged on the outskirts of the gathering area, each with a sign with a number on it). I think that he had so much experience that he could assign people of similar skiing abilities just by observing the clothes, equipment and stance each person persented (with the exception of the top 5-10 classes, depending on the makeup of the skiers for that week, these people would be involved in a brief ski off). In the first two hours, slight adjustments to class membership would be made. Once you're class was formed, you took the double t-bar (one person on each side of a big t-bar) to get up the mountain. Now note that Gray Rocks was famous for teaching beginners, so everything had a purpose and the initial t-bar was so that when you went elsewhere to ski, you would be able to safely use a t-bar, j-bar, poma lift etc (for you youngsters, those lifts, known as surface lifts were still being used right after the dinosaurs went extinct). This double t-bar was the six-pack super lift of it's day. Sugar Peak was small and compact but had all types of terrain for beginners/intermediates to practice on. Mainly long groomed to the hilt runs, with a sprinkling of short steep pitches, short bump runs and I remember most vividly a drop of 10+ feet, where the coach just pointed the tips of his skis down and said "follow me" before he took the leap. Ah, those were the days.

Does this jog your memory at all? Correct me if you see any lapses.

Cheers.

CP
Hi Charlie,
Your memory is much sharper than mine, and, yes the lodge was 4 star. Thanks for reviving a great period in my life. Hmmm, living proof that the apre-ski thing destroys brain cells.

Grey Rocks was very popular with eastern ski clubs and I always went with a Philadelphia ski club. 20 to 30 people would go in the early part of each year and it was a 7 day non-stop party. They would always do a group photo overlooking the lake, which I still have. Sometimes I recognize a young guy that looks like me.

Many people learned to ski there but, make no mistake, if you skied with the top 1 or 2 groups, they were great skiers. Today, its highly unlikely that really good skiers would go to such a small area for a week just to work on technique. But that's how we did it back then. Top notch Canadian Instruction. Really cold weather.

I've always tried to improve my skiing though books. The first book I bought back then was on Cadanian Ski Technique. If memory serves me, the author was Ernie Blake, who headed the ski school at Mt. Tremblant. My wife still remembers me practicing stem christies in full equipment in our living room. Today, there are CD's with books and I still work at improving.

A friend has ski party each year and has a slide show going all night. Many of the photos are from Grey Rocks and the pictures are considered as treasures by our friends. As the old Kodak commercial goes (Song by Paul Anaka) Remember the Times Of Your Life.
Thanks for the post.
post #23 of 28
My parents made me take lessons. Then I quit downhill skiing for a few years untill I moved west. I had very little money so I became largely self taught. I can remember that those early lessons were not that good and one instructor at Killington stands out as having a really poor atitude. Now that I am an instructor I advocate lessons. I try to remember what it was like to be new and to give a good lesson that is fun and makes my customers want another, with me if possible. It suprises me that many people who have been skiing for a while have little concept of how and where to stop or what the skiers code means. Its good that my parents got some of that crammed into me early.
post #24 of 28
Ski weeks are not fully dead. They are just called a "camp" or "ESA" now. Same idea. And still a lot of fun.
post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Living Proof View Post
Hi Charlie,
Your memory is much sharper than mine, and, yes the lodge was 4 star. Thanks for reviving a great period in my life. Hmmm, living proof that the apre-ski thing destroys brain cells.

Grey Rocks was very popular with eastern ski clubs and I always went with a Philadelphia ski club. 20 to 30 people would go in the early part of each year and it was a 7 day non-stop party. They would always do a group photo overlooking the lake, which I still have. Sometimes I recognize a young guy that looks like me.

Many people learned to ski there but, make no mistake, if you skied with the top 1 or 2 groups, they were great skiers. Today, its highly unlikely that really good skiers would go to such a small area for a week just to work on technique. But that's how we did it back then. Top notch Canadian Instruction. Really cold weather.

I've always tried to improve my skiing though books. The first book I bought back then was on Cadanian Ski Technique. If memory serves me, the author was Ernie Blake, who headed the ski school at Mt. Tremblant. My wife still remembers me practicing stem christies in full equipment in our living room. Today, there are CD's with books and I still work at improving.

A friend has ski party each year and has a slide show going all night. Many of the photos are from Grey Rocks and the pictures are considered as treasures by our friends. As the old Kodak commercial goes (Song by Paul Anaka) Remember the Times Of Your Life.
Thanks for the post.
Which Philly club. I'm from the Philly area and did a lot of skiing and kayaking with the Buckridge Ski Club,Mohawk Canoe Club, and Philladelphia Canoe Club. I miss the club scene where people would mentor each other. I wouldn't be the skier/boater I am today without that early influence.
post #26 of 28
OK, here's what I think accounts for more people taking lessons than in the past:

1) More disposable income than 20 or 30 years ago.

2) Mountains do a better job of marketing their lessons.

3) Gear gear and more gear. Like in so many sports, people buy craploads of gear when they first get into it, then realize they don't know how to use it. So, the go get a lesson. People buy $3k mountain bikes and expect to ride like a pro, or plunk down a bunch of $$ on brand new skis and all the trimmings, or a new kayak, etc. I see people with compasses mounted on their sea kayaks who never venture into open water -- we buy what makes us feel good. Lessons are part of that, but are probbly the best thing we spend our money on.

4) I'll probably get slapped down for this one, but we've become a society of helpless morons -- it's obvious we need lessons! Seriously though...look around at the number of self help or instructional books and classes. People seem to need or want coaching in even the simplest of life's tasks these days. I dot'n mean you, of course (because I don't want you to yell at me), but the person next to you. The days of independent learning by just doing/trying are much in the past -- sometimes that's a very good thing, but not always.

5) Less time, we need to make the best of it.

6) Lots of boomers returning to skiing -- they get themselves lessons, and get the kids lessons too.

I'm not saying lessons are bad, not at all. I just think these are the driving forces behind any growth in the number of people taking them.

The more inherently dangerous something seems, the more likely people will take lessons (or put junior in lesson) to do it. My wife and I took a week long kayak class at Zoar Outdoor years ago when we first got into boating. I'm tring to talk her into paragliding next. I think we should take a lesson.
post #27 of 28
I took a "never ever" lesson from the local Kiwanis club at Nubs Nob when I first skied as a 10-year-old kid. I might have had two or three. I got a bit of coaching in high school when I was racing, but frankly the coaching wasn't very good--and sometimes dangerous.

I did go to a ski week in Taos in 1987, but it was more like guided skiing than really a lesson.

So, my first "lesson" since I started skiing was a teaching/hiring clinic at Eldora in 2003 when I was out of work and looking for some way to bring in a little money for the family.

I don't think lessons are "in" even now. Most of my friends aren't interested in them, even though I can teach them or introduce them to exceptional teachers. Perhaps some people just don't care that much about improving...

...nah...
post #28 of 28

Gray Rocks Still Active

Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post
I wish I knew what this Grey Rocks was. Sounds great. Too bad the ski week is dead.
Grey Rocks still offers ski week packages, which I'm sure would measure up to the packages folks remember from many years ago. The current SSD is a very highly regarded CSIA Level 4 & former Demo Team member. The previous SSD was as well regarded & qualified. The hill itself is not huge, but they make up for that by bringing their advanced groups across the road to Tremblant for a day or two within their package.
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