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LA Times article re "high-end" ski instruction

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
From Mimi Avins' article in Sunday March 9 "Calendar" section, "On the Slopes of a Growth Industry."

The article opens describing a very successful businessman who has arrived in Aspen - "he lives in Paris and skis in the Swiss Alps, but he has been coming to Aspen, the jewel of American ski resorts, for 15 years" - and checked into a suite of rooms at the Little Nell Hotel during Christmas week, as he will do later in the season, accompanied by secretaries, computers, fax machines, and wife. He makes a business call, in fact, while the Silver Queen gondola carries him and his instructor, 47-year-old Paul Wade, to the top.

Wade's presence "is essential, because the compulsively busy man who pays $460 a day for Wade's expertise and companionship knows the limitations of a winter paradise. Even when the scenery is spectacular, the snow conditions ideal, the equipment state of the art, the crowds light and the temperature mild, skiing isn't much fun when it's lonely at the top."

Avins recounts that once upon a time, ski instructors were seen as not that different from "beach resort employees, dashing jocks who enjoyed outdoor sports by day and indoor sports after dark. Teaching skiing was something hedonistic slackers did before they grew up and got real jobs.
That image is as passe' as leather ski boots. Today ski instructors in prime resorts like Sun Valley, Vail and Aspen are a different breed. The average Aspen instructor spends 20 years in the job, and his relationships with his clients lasts longer than some of their marriages.
By turns therapist, personal trainer, baby-sitter, body guard and social networker, he or she (40% of Aspen's 1,300 full- and part-time instructors are female) is a skillfull experience manager who knows just how to enhance a day on the slopes for people who aren't casual about anything, including their leisure pursuits.
The rewards reaped by elite instructors goes way beyond receiving generous tips, working in a place of surpassing natural beauty and being able to make a living at the sport they love most. Their grateful pupils, who sometimes become good friends, invite them on trips, offer them access to their private jets, vacation homes and yachts, give them cars and stock in their corporations, and provide down payments for new houses.
Such spoils go to instructors who are unflappable, flexible, patient, intuitive, engaging and fun. In other words, the job isn't as easy as it sounds."

Rich Burkley, managing director of the Ski and Snowboard Schools of Aspen: "When we interview new applicants, we're looking for reasonable athletic skills, but what we really hope to find is personality, because we can't teach that.
Multi-day privates are our biggest product, and clients want to be with instructors who are agreeable and worldly. So we're looking for that Rennaisance pro - an excellent athlete with a high social IQ who's well balanced spiuritually."

This is less than a quarter of the article, which closes with reference to nondisclosure agreements some instructors must sign in order to work for particular clients, about 50 of whom each year - "usually high-profile politicians, athletes or entertainers" - require such stipulations of confidentiality.

As it's archived, you can't even get to the article by registering. If REALLY interested in the rest of it, probably a couple or a few bucks to buy it.
post #2 of 5
I guess things are looking up then...
post #3 of 5
I am anxiously awaiting the response of our Aspen pros on this one. Although I am sure this occurs, this implies that it is the rule, not the exception. Thoughts anyone?

post #4 of 5
my only thoughts are .... anything is possible .... some make the grade .... but the amount of work one must put in to become one of these "elite" instructors means that they actually have the ability to make much, much more money in the "real" world as gun salespeople ... and afford ski holidays to the destination of thier choice. CONFIDENCE in self is the key and the answer!!! Feet skills ...haaah .... one two one two one two ...one tip ...ta

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ March 18, 2003, 05:00 AM: Message edited by: man from oz ]
post #5 of 5
Recently rode up a gondola with two instructors at an unnamed Western hill. A little freeski before going off to the salt mine of a private ("babysitting"). Didn't seem as if they were all that enthused about some privates. One instructor had come to the Hill from DV; seemed tired of concierge type lessons. Maybe the good tips make up for the lack of teaching challenges.
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