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How to teach first time skiers?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Ok, here is my situation: In about 1-2 weeks, my family and girlfriend are going up to wisconsin for a one day ski trip. My girlfriend has never skied before at all. I have never taught beginners but I have been thinking some time about how to do this and this is what I came up with. My plan is to take her on the bunny hill and start her out moving down the hill at an angle with a pizza stance. I will tell her to emphasize turning with the outside foot and just using the inside as a guide. Once she is comfortable going down the hill at an angle both ways, I will try to get her to slowly connect those angled pizza turns. Hopefully, then with each run we can work on lessening the width of the pizza to the point where she can slowly navigate her way down the easy greens without falling. Is this a winning strategy for teaching a newbie, or should I scrap the entire thing and try something else. Please give suggestions, I really want her to have a good first time on skis.
post #2 of 23
jclay2,

If you really want her to have a great time you'll set her up with a competent instructor for her first lesson. It will be money well spent.
post #3 of 23
How about just signing her up for a lesson with a pro? She'll learn faster and won't be frustrated with you and you'll get to go ski whatever you want to ski for a couple hours...Meet up w/her after her lesson, let her take a break, and then ski w/her.

Works everytime! Even though I could've instructed my wife, I refused to teach my wife for her first time...She would'nt of listened to me and the whole experience would've just frustrated both of us.

When she was done with the lesson, I instructed her the rest of the day and because she got all her initial frustration out on a third party, she was able to actually concentrate on my instruction w/out incident.

To this day she will tell you that even though I was qualified to teach her, it was much better that I didn't for her first time.

I taught both my kids, and the occasional friend, but generally I don't think it's a good idea to instruct close friends/family, even if qualified, for the first time...Too much personal dynamics involved.

And one more thing...When you ski w/her, after her lesson, don't push her to do anything she's not 100% comfortable doing...I've seen it happen way too often and for beginners if you scare them even a tiny bit they'll most likely never ski again.
post #4 of 23
Buy her a lesson. You won't regret it.
post #5 of 23
Teaching a significant other to ski, in many instances, places great strain on the relationship.

Trust all of us here! treat her to a lesson with a pro. Most areas have sweet deals on beginner packages which include lifts, rentals, lesson.

If you really want to optimize her success, request a certified instructor for a private lesson where she will be one on one. I say this because unfortunately, many times (not always) the beginner group lessons are taught by less experienced pros.
post #6 of 23
Buy her the lesson. Simply put, there is no way to in a short post in a competent way advise anyone on how to conduct a lesson with a beginner.

An instructor is watching each person as an individual and there are some er .... very ... er ... shall we say "unique" problems, not to mention just following the basic lesson plan.

I've never added the numbers, but believe it or not there about a hundred individual "moves" or "ways to" that will be covered in a basic lesson and all are important in one respect or other. It goes way beyond "pizza/french fries".
post #7 of 23
Many areas have learn-to-ski type of packages for next to nothing. Pick a place that offers such. Here in my local area, several places offer a first time skier package for $20, rental and a 1.5 hour instruction included.
post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Ok, you have definately convinced me that this is the best way to go. I just looked up the rates and it looks like she can get a 1.5 hour group lesson for 25 dollars. I guess I will just help her with her rental stuff and what not and then meet back with her after the lesson to see how she is doing.

I don't quite think that the instructor's at devils head, WI are quite up to epic standards but hopefully they will do the grunt work of getting her on her feet and moving.
post #9 of 23

Teaching lst timer

Quote:
Originally Posted by jclay2 View Post
Ok, you have definately convinced me that this is the best way to go. I just looked up the rates and it looks like she can get a 1.5 hour group lesson for 25 dollars. I guess I will just help her with her rental stuff and what not and then meet back with her after the lesson to see how she is doing.

I don't quite think that the instructor's at devils head, WI are quite up to epic standards but hopefully they will do the grunt work of getting her on her feet and moving.
Glad you made the decision to get her a lesson. Good advice here. Go to Beginners Zone under Forums and Read: So you want to ski for the lst time. Have a good time.
post #10 of 23
Lesson. Then you get to ski. $25 for 1.5 hours of you ripping up WI in peace? Priceless.
post #11 of 23
Buy her a lesson. If she is not the type to learn in a group or you think she might be slower at athletic pursuits than your avg person, buy her a private. This would be most important on a crowded weekend.
post #12 of 23
Dont be so sure, good instructors can be found in all sorts of weard places.... and yes, never ever teach your girlfriend how to ski if you are not a professional instructor in wich case you will be smart enough to hand her over to annother instructor because thats what we do. Ive saved a bunch of relationships in my carriere.
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
i am going to get her a lesson, but it is a little funny how you guys are so supportive of instruction on the first time. I for one never took a lesson, and ended up having a blast and taking to the sport. In fact, many people i know never started out with a lesson. I am also willing to bet that a lot of epic posters never took a lesson in the beginning and took right to it. In my mind lessons are more important after you are able to get off your feet and ski the greens. However, I guess it depends on the skier. I know there are some people who can make it down black groomers their first day and others who are stuck on the bunny hill until they leave skiing. Hopefully my gf will take right to it.
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by jclay2 View Post
i am going to get her a lesson, but it is a little funny how you guys are so supportive of instruction on the first time.
'Tis the collective voice of eons of experience!

Or as we used to joke at Copper-we needed to put some relationship councilors just down from the top of various lift terminals to deal with the carnage of those teaching significant others-especially beginner or low level S.O's..
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by jclay2 View Post
i am going to get her a lesson, but it is a little funny how you guys are so supportive of instruction on the first time. I for one never took a lesson, and ended up having a blast and taking to the sport. In fact, many people i know never started out with a lesson. I am also willing to bet that a lot of epic posters never took a lesson in the beginning and took right to it. In my mind lessons are more important after you are able to get off your feet and ski the greens. However, I guess it depends on the skier. I know there are some people who can make it down black groomers their first day and others who are stuck on the bunny hill until they leave skiing. Hopefully my gf will take right to it.
Im not objecting to her learning to ski by herselfe or even a friend helping out but Im positive that YOU as a boyfriend teaching her is a bad thing. Must not be so but from what you write in your opening post Im pritty sure. For instance this emphasizing the outside ski to turn and using the inside ski to guid sounds like you dont really have it figured out properly. Just HOW are you going to teach her to emphasize the outside ski? What are the movements? How will she be able to guid the inside ski? You are going to encounter fore aft balance issues, leg fatique, strange edge angles, locking wedges, twisting arms, rotating upper bodies, fears, anger, sadness, falling, not getting up, inside ski pressure, no turning, hips square, banking.... you name it. To deal with all this there are ski instructors with many years of experiance. Some adult ladies it took 10 private lessons to get down the bunny hill by themselves, some it took 15 minutes. Patience and patience and more patience. Thats something dads, moms, boy and girlfriends dont seem to have. But we have nerves of steel and patience of iron. Good luck and hopefully you and she will be skiing at the end of the day!
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by jclay2 View Post
i am going to get her a lesson, but it is a little funny how you guys are so supportive of instruction on the first time. I for one never took a lesson, and ended up having a blast and taking to the sport. In fact, many people i know never started out with a lesson. I am also willing to bet that a lot of epic posters never took a lesson in the beginning and took right to it. In my mind lessons are more important after you are able to get off your feet and ski the greens. However, I guess it depends on the skier. I know there are some people who can make it down black groomers their first day and others who are stuck on the bunny hill until they leave skiing. Hopefully my gf will take right to it.
It's because we've all taught "ex-gf's" after their "ex-bf's" tried to teach them to ski.

There's lots of skiers who "make it down" a black their first day without lesson. I've never personally seen someone ski a black on their first day without a lesson (and damn few with a lesson).
post #17 of 23
"Friends don't teach friends how to ski", especially if you want her to remain your girlfriend. Get her the lesson.

"You don't grow too old to ski, you grow old because you stop playing".
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by jclay2 View Post
In my mind lessons are more important after you are able to get off your feet and ski the greens. However, I guess it depends on the skier.
Everyone can benefit from a good lesson. I didn't do a lesson until 10 years or so into the sports, granted I never skied much before that. I am quite certain that if I was properly taught, I would have gotten off the right feet and ended up being a much better skier.

BTW, good beginner's lessons can be found anywhere. PSIA offers the same recommendations no matter where you go. If you're not sure, just insist of having someone adequate. You don't need to go to a big fancy resort.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jclay2 View Post
I know there are some people who can make it down black groomers their first day and others who are stuck on the bunny hill until they leave skiing.
Have you seen seen how these guys make it down the hill? Just down right stupid and dangerous.
post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 
chanwmr: I didn't say ski down, I said make it down, as in going down the hill with control but by no means skiiing it.
post #20 of 23
Look, I'm an instructor of 14 years. Married 12 years, we met as new hire instructors.

She's looking to advance to L2 and I will not train her. I turn her onto a few instructor/trainer friends we both trust on ski school. I work with her on drills and tasks that they already worked on, but will NOT critique her much or break into new movements on my own unless it's something the others have brought up in her training.

After 12 years of marriage, I'm smart enough to know not to do this. I let others tell her the exact same thing I'm thinking, then it's OK for me to reinforce it. Women are strange that way

Save the relationship, get a pro. Besides teaching her <shudder> a "pizza" right off the bat is so the wrong way to teach contemporary skiing.
post #21 of 23
Interesting topic and good advice.

The one scene I see on many ski hills that I try very very hard to avoid is the one we all see from the chair. Boyfriend/husband at the bottom of a pitch yelling up instructions to a very frightened girlfriend/wife at the top who is dependent on him to get down and ready to kill him when she does.

The basic lesson plan you described is kind of a blue print for teaching beginning skiers. It is great to have a lesson plan in mind and then assess the individuals needs as you start out within that plan. Having no plan absolutely sucks as it makes for a terrible lesson - but you will vary each lesson to the needs of the individual.

The first thing I noticed when I took my very first instructor course was that areas that I as a skier considered flat are considered steep by a first time skier. Start on the bottom of the bunny hill until the skier gets used to simply standinga nd go from there.

The thing I learned the first time I tuaght an instructors course was that most skiers do not know how to ski or think like a beginner. Most skiers cannot perform a simple snow plow or wedge turn because advanced skiers use advanced skills that the beginner does not yet possess.

A third thin that I only learned over time when teaching beginners. A proivate lesson is not always better than a group lesson. When I have taught a talented beginner and progressed them along as they improved that beginner sometimes becomes frustrated because they think they are not doing well - no matter how many times I tell them they are improving at an advanced pace. In a group lesson the students are often at ease because they are with people in a similar situation to themselves and have a real measure of their progress.

So back to the first point. At the end of the day would you rather have your girlfriend tell you about the stupid things the instructor did to her or tell her family the stuipid things you did to her? A bunny hill can be daunting to a new beginner especially if you take that beginenr to the top of it and think they can start from there.

On the other hand people who skate and are prone to being a bit daring such as hockey players will generally spend one trip down the bunny hill and immediately head for the chair lift. They have exceptional balance from years of skating and can muscle their way down the hill... most hockey players I have met just wanted the thrill and not the expertise...

sorry for the ramble. just some observations from years and years of teaching beginners and teaching instructors how to teach

Mike
post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 
I can understand what you are saying mikehoyt: The bunny hill can be scary for a beginner. Good thing she will start out in wisconsin, It is so flat it might be going uphill. I know that it would be suicide to "ski" with her instead of making it down the hill with her. I remember one time at montage or snow mountain in northeast PA when a boyfriend took his intermediate blue/intermediate gf on white lighting, a double black mogul run and probably one of the hardest slopes in northeast PA. I think it took them at least 30 minutes to fall their way down. So, do any of you guys have suggestions for after the lesson. I really want to do my best to give her a good ski experience.
post #23 of 23
Uncle Yuki's Advice for the Lovelorn Skier



Quite frankly, if you are trying to nurture this relatioship that is, you may be in it for the long haul, or, you are just a nice guy, I wouldn't be out doing my free skiing on the diamonds while she is in her lesson.

I would be looking for quiet greens out of traffic where she can spend the next few hours relaxed and making turns well in her comfort zone.

Each area usually has a half way lift or someplace that is nice, easy and out of the way enough to be quiet.
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