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Best Advanced Group Lessons in CO

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
My girlfriend needs a fairly advanced lesson really badly.

So, over the last 5 years I have been teaching my girlfriend to ski. I know this is against common wisdom, but she is a rather competitive, athletic and forgiving girl. The "Let's go ski this run, it will build character" method has served us both fairly well. She is now a fairly decent skier now, with the obvious exception of all of these bad habits she picked up from her instructor.

However, being a competitive girl, she is getting frustrated that she is not progressing. Recently, we have diagnosed a timing and/or fore/aft balance issue, where she seems to be compressing 90% of the ski pressuring movements of the turn into 10% of the turn. This is killing her, is is really hindering her in longer radius turns and prevents her from being able to aggressively ski things like moguls (inconsistent and uncontrolled edge pressure) and crud (unable to maintain ski pressure to bust through it)

The problem is I am out of my league, I have never had this problem, am not entirely sure of the cause, and have absolutely no drills to correct this. This screams to me "You should take a lesson"

I tried to get her to take a lesson at Copper, but we were informed that they only had lessons up to level 6, and they did indeed ski some black runs. That did not sell very well with her. Based on what I have read, and my hazy memory of how I skied the last time I took a lesson (14 years ago, we are old) I would say she is a 7-8. The closest she has had to a lesson is Gordy's str8line camp where she was a group 2-3. She is also in the "fast" group at Silverton which is not a lesson but some gauge of ability.

So where can she get an advanced lesson that is technique focused, will pick apart her form into little bits and then give here some drills/pointers to make it all better again?

Alternatively, does anyone know any drills that will address the issue?

I am kind of excited about this because I will be taking a lesson at the same time. I can’t wait to find out what I am doing wrong as well.
post #2 of 21
Kudos to you for teaching her and for also realizing that you can only take her so far. It's interesting what you say about Copper. When were you thinking of taking that lesson? I work for Keystone so it might appear to be a solicitation if I suggest our school but any of the Vail Resorts (Breck, Keystone, Vail, Beaver Creek, Arapahoe) could accomodate her needs. Same goes for Steamboat, Winter Park, or any of the Aspen areas.
post #3 of 21
I've taken several advanced lessons at Winter Park and can highly recommend them!
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
I thought the copper thing was rather strange as well. It may have been an uninformed counter person, or they may just not have what we are looking for. Either way, we are looking to take the lesson(s) either this Sunday or two weeks from from now.
post #5 of 21
If you go to Copper's ski school website (http://www.coppercolorado.com/lesson...ss_lessons.htm) they describe their level 6 as being able to ski on black diamond terrain. I don't think their levels correspond with PSIA levels. To be sure I'd call the ski school and ask to talk to a supervisor. Another thing to ask is if your GF is the only student at a her lesson level will her lesson time be shortened. It is not uncommon for a one student half day group lesson to be turned into a 1 or 2 hour private. However, I've never had a full day lesson shortened by the ski school. One the Copper site there is an asterick by the Level 6 but no explanation of what the asterick means.

With that being said, I had good experiences with Vail and Beaver Creek. Of the 3 times I've taken lessons there I've been the only student at my level 2 times. The third time I took a lesson with a buddy who I knew would be at the same level. Both Vail and BC have all day lessons, which I'm a fan of and neither shortens the lesson if there is only 1 student at a particular level.

Like I mentioned in another thread, at most major resorts with reputable ski schools, the instructors teaching the advanced lessons are usually more experienced and more highly certified. If you do take a group lesson, arrive 5-10 minutes early for your lesson and find the ski school supervisor. Tell him or her honestly they type of skiers you and your wife are (skill level, terrain you spend most of your time on, level of fitness, agressiveness, etc) and what you'd like to get out of your lesson. Be as specific as possible. Also, request a PSIA Level 3 certified instructor.

Another way to try to get a good instructor is to find out the names of about half a dozen recommended instructors at the resort you're going to (post a question on Epicski). When you talk to the ski school supervisor before your lesson ask whether one of those instructors is teaching group lessons and if so, request to have him/her as your GF's instructor. This has worked for me probably 20-30% of the time I've done it.

If you aren't satisfied with your lesson inform the ski school either during or after your lesson. Talk to the supervisor or manager. Again, be specific about what you're not satisfied with. At any major ski resort, if you're unhappy for vaild reasons they should be able to make it right.

If you are satisfied with your lesson, don't be shy in letting your instructor know. Also, depending on how satisfied you are and how many other students were in your group, don't be afraid show your appreciation by tipping your instructor. There has been much discussion on Epicski about tipping your instructor. My general rule of thumb is for an average quality group lesson with 3-6 students including me I start with ~10% of the cost of the lesson. If it's a 2 student lesson I usually start with ~15% and for a 1 on 1 group lesson I usually start with ~25%. I have tipped up to 50% for an exceptional lesson.

Hope this has been helpful and that your girlfriend gets a good lesson!
post #6 of 21
Copper, for whatever reason, has changed the way it measures skier level. Level 6 is highest-end, all terrain. She can get a lesson that will take her into the most demanding terrain at the mountain. She'll probably have no more than three people in her group.
post #7 of 21
mike, Could you go into a little more detail about your lesson level classifications? Is it a new system unique to Copper? What is it based on?
post #8 of 21
New this year, the intent is to simplify lesson classification. I don't know of any other mountain that uses it, but there certainly may be others.

Level 1 is never-ever. Level 2 is green. Level 3 is green-blue. Level 4 is blue. Level 5 blue-black. Level 6 is black. Confusing for folks used to PSIA levels, as evidenced by this post! The folks teaching the Level 6 lessons are the top-rated pros at Copper. If a student signs up for a lesson at that level, he/she would likely have a very good experience.
post #9 of 21
Completely off topic, but Mike I saw you throw a 720 Misty off Motorcross 2 weekends ago. I was in John's group down where you landed.

I have taken Copper Chopper's Lessons for quite a few years in a row now and I have gone from an okay expert skier to being very aggressive in all parts of the mountain. The instructor's at Copper are great!
post #10 of 21
She sounds like a fairly strong and athletic skier already. What feedback did she get technique-wise from the Straightline Camp? That camp is, among other things, in a sense an immerssive group lesson with a very high level of coaches and would be a good initial gauge.

Personally, if it were my skiing and I was already a strong but plateaued skier willing to do the sustained work to continue to lift my game, I'd ask around about different race camps, maybe also the Str8line camp, maybe a season-long "improvement" group lesson deal at my "home" resort, and maybe get to know some of the better skiers with identifiably strong technique at my home mountain, and then focus on working on one or two things at a time, changing every three or four weeks assuming you get out regularly. My bias would be that with a standard group lesson I might get a great skier and coach who happened to be a ski instructor...or I might not.

Be it camps, a season-long deal, or whatever, doing it together so that you both get the benefit of the coaching sounds like a great way to go since you both sound comfortable dealing with having skiing picked at in front of each other. (Many significant others are not fortunate enough to be able to do this!)
post #11 of 21
Best ski school in CO is Aspen/Snowmass. Number 2 is Vail.
post #12 of 21
Both have some very good instructors; both are large schools. It depends on who you get, like everywhere.
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Ok, well I figure after all that advice I owe some lessons learned.

Last weekend for various reasons we decided to skip skiing Saturday and on Sunday we decided we were either going to try for a Torries summit or ski lessons. Mainly due to laziness we decided no lessons, we chose well since there was 0 visibility on Sunday, Torries would have been foolish. So off to Vail we went.

Overall I would rate the experience as valuable for both of us, but overall a poor value, at least for myself.

For the Girlfriend's lessons, she got a couple of great pointers and said that she was actually feeling the effects of some of the corrections that she had made. We have not gotten to ski afterwards so I am unsure how much anything stuck, but I believe there may be marked improvement. I think she may have gotten the better end of the deal.

For myself, the lesson really opened my eyes about certain things.

I would like to start off with my teacher, she was technically very competent, carved beautifully, and provided good assessments and guidance.

Then there is myself, I have been skiing for a while and I am a fairly decent skier. I would say that, on the terrain I am used to skiing, I am better than most other skiers. Most of the time I try to find steep and challenging runs that contain features and ski down them as fast and fluidly as possible. The skis I use in the resorts are admittedly way too big for me, but they go fast and are fun.

I tried to enter this lesson ego free; no drill would be below me, no technique would be wrong. It was hard to do this at times, but overall I feel that I succeeded. I am trying to maintain that attitude through the lesson description, hopefully I will succeed.

So the lesson started out making short radius turns on blue slopes. Wow I suck at that. This is partially due to equipment (45+ m Radius) and partially due to experience, I simply don't often make short turns. That was challenging, but not all that fun.

Similarly, we skied moguls on a fairly mellow blue black. On a run like the one we were skiing I would normally try to make GS turns, and absorb most of the moguls, throwing in a few zipper line type turns if the moguls got too large. Instead we tried to ski the run as moguls, carving each turn with significant motion moving across the hill to control speed. This method was suggested because it caused less strain in the body. I don't find the "Zipper line" absorption/contraction method with an earlier shallower turn to be any more hard on my body. It looks like I am having the whole "WC" Moguls VS PISA moguls argument I read in the forum internally. Overall, since I really suck at blue moguls in general and going slowly through moguls even more so. The only thing I am all that sure of is until I can do both methods effectively, I really have no say in the manner. Overall, I find smaller, low angle moguls to also be challenging but not all that fun.

Then we moved onto carved turns on blue runs. Honestly, at this point I was amazed. My instructor carved beautifully. I had no idea that there was a technique that was so refined that was not all that useful for racing, or skiing moguls, or skiing powder, or skiing steeps, especially skiing steps. At this point in time I leaned that finishing the turn by bringing your hips and and shoulders across the fall line allows you to compete those carved turns without getting in the back seat. It works and I am glad I now understand how that works. Having said that however, I feel compelled to say that closing you hips or taking them out of the fall line on steps is a really bad idea, and possibly a bad habit to form at all.

After that it was mostly free skiing.

Overall I think what was most interesting was that:

Both my girlfriend and I ski in the BC often, we only have AT gear. Both instructors commented on how our backcountry (steeps, powder, corn, variable crusts, windjack, crud) centric technique had some fairly fundamental differences. Before this lesson I would have said this is silly talk. Now I am thinking the "Piste" world really has some non-racing techniques and aesthetics that are unique.

I hope this does not come off as "I am the knick knar skier and need no lessons" On the contrary, I think some fairly significant weaknesses in my skiing were brought up. On the other side, I doubt I will take another lesson. Even a group lesson was fairly expensive. I did not learn that much about my form or how to improve it. And most damming the vast majority of the techniques introduced were primarily valuable on terrain that is simply not all that interesting to me.

How could this be improved.
1) Video Analysis - preferably in a group session - I will probably not take any lesson that does not specifically advertise this
2) More drills less free skiing - If I wanted to go free skiing I would go free skiing. I really don't want a guide. I realize I may be in the minority on this one.
4) Lower cost may help, but really my time is valuable as well - I would rather pay for value if it was there.
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrosendahl View Post
The skis I use in the resorts are admittedly way too big for me, but they go fast and are fun.

This is partially due to equipment (45+ m Radius) and partially due to experience, I simply don't often make short turns. That was challenging, but not all that fun.

Similarly, we skied moguls....snip.... The only thing I am all that sure of is until I can do both methods effectively, I really have no say in the manner.

Then we moved onto carved turns on blue runs. Honestly, at this point I was amazed. My instructor carved beautifully. I had no idea that there was a technique that was so refined that was not all that useful for racing, or skiing moguls, or skiing powder, or skiing steeps, especially skiing steps.

Overall I think what was most interesting was that:

Both my girlfriend and I ski in the BC often, w
You ski in the BC often and yet you "Simply don't make short turns"? Another High Plains Drifter! Don't you make short turns when sking the trees or a navigating through a line of chutes? IN addition you can't ski bumps in either style you reference unless you can make a short turn.

In adddition the technique you say is refined for only the groomed is actually the technique you can use everywhere It is high end skiing and is useful in all of the situations you describe. You obviously don't have the movements to do it.

Listen keep convincing yourself that what you do is somehow different and stick with fat and long skis and terrain that is over your head. That way you can keep telling yourself and your friends that you are better than most.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by volklskier1 View Post
You ski in the BC often and yet you "Simply don't make short turns"? Another High Plains Drifter! Don't you make short turns when sking the trees or a navigating through a line of chutes? IN addition you can't ski bumps in either style you reference unless you can make a short turn.

In adddition the technique you say is refined for only the groomed is actually the technique you can use everywhere It is high end skiing and is useful in all of the situations you describe. You obviously don't have the movements to do it.

Listen keep convincing yourself that what you do is somehow different and stick with fat and long skis and terrain that is over your head. That way you can keep telling yourself and your friends that you are better than most.
debbie downer

http://www.buzznet.com/tags/debbiedowner/video/

seriousally dude what is your problem? your negativity really isnt welcomed anymore and never was. the guy admits to having some short comings and you go off on his view of the sport. If his idea of the sport is hiking for soft snow all the time and going fast down it, I say let him be. i think alot here would rather go hiking with him and ski some sweet powder than put up with technique dreadnaught like yourself.

again for we all you know your a hack that cant ski at all, untill otherwise proven. pictures, video or skiing with someone from the board might just change this.

I got some comp tickets left at snowbird, if you fly in they are yours. Ill even show you around, assuming you can keep up.
post #16 of 21
I actually did think that you would have been a good instructor for this guy.

Despite what you think with your fast experience after a season and a half under your belt at Snowbird after leaving BC of Montage, it's not about being a downer. It's about calling BS when it's BS. Do you agree with the following;

Then we moved onto carved turns on blue runs. Honestly, at this point I was amazed. My instructor carved beautifully. I had no idea that there was a technique that was so refined that was not all that useful for racing, or skiing moguls, or skiing powder, or skiing steeps, especially skiing steps.


post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by volklskier1 View Post
I actually did think that you would have been a good instructor for this guy.

Despite what you think with your fast experience after a season and a half under your belt at Snowbird after leaving BC of Montage, it's not about being a downer. It's about calling BS when it's BS. Do you agree with the following;

Then we moved onto carved turns on blue runs. Honestly, at this point I was amazed. My instructor carved beautifully. I had no idea that there was a technique that was so refined that was not all that useful for racing, or skiing moguls, or skiing powder, or skiing steeps, especially skiing steps.


yes I totally agree with that statement,I would like to add carve when you can skid when you must.

I have about 400 days skiing out west at various resorts teaching about half of those days. someday teaching some very high end skier some days not. that your last 8 years condensed into a couple. more experince comes with time have more time ahead of me than anyone else on this board.
post #18 of 21
I am not sure what you were trying to get out of the lesson. What I glean from your post is that you can get down anything using a variety of miscellaneous techniques which seem to work ok for you in the backcountry. You admit you suck in blue bumps, are unable to make short radius turns and were amazed at the instructor carving on a blue run. You then blamed your equipment. The terrain you skied in the lesson bored you. If you truly think that that practicing skills on blue terrain have no applicability to steeper and deeper terrain, you are wasting your money in lessons.
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Wow I kind of feel the need to defend myself

I have been accused of:
1) blaming my equipment - I ski on 196 Capital BMC's (132-107-117) stiff flex. Ti's a great ski for maching through variable snow, for 5-10 meter turns the are not so great. But I will give you this -you should be able to make any turn on any equipment.

2) being full of BS because I am "unable" to make short radius turns. - I said that I was not very good at it, not that I could not there is a huge difference here.

3) being full of BS because obviously I have to make short turns in trees/chutes/moguls. - Really it is a different turn, for trees and moguls, I don't often bring my skis all the way across the mountain. Chutes are a different animal, quite a few different animals in fact. But I feel safe ins saying short carved turns are not a common site on longer, steeper, narrow chutes. Maybe one or two carved turns up top to set up your line.

4) Not understanding/performing the movements. - this is not very true as well. Th whole carved turn through moguls thing was different for me - I had trouble seeing the longer line. Carving was similar. I am capable of carving turns, I did learn how closing you hips finished the turn. But closing your hips over commits you to your turn, I think that doing this (just like having a narrow stance) will quickly limit you ability to handle variable terrain.

5) That I think that practicing skills on blue terrain is not usefully. I strongly disagree with this statement. I really think that practicing on blue terrain is very useful. Blues are great for understanding things like edge control. I wanted drills, I wanted my form to be criticized, I was fine with staying on blues. What I did not know was that there is an entire skill set for skiing groomed terrain and some of those techniques that have no applicability in steeper and deeper terrain.

To finish off here are a few pictures:

A few years ago - Jackson Alta Chute 0 - notice the lack of short radius turns


Here is me on climbing steeper, narrower terrain terrain - This was actually above my skill level, but close your hips on this, come one I dare ya.


And finally some deeper terrain, ahh... yummy.
post #20 of 21
What criteria are you using to determine the "best"?
J
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrosendahl View Post
Wow I kind of feel the need to defend myself
J,

You're relatively new around here. If you were familiar with the posting histories of the folks in this thread (right click on the name and select find all posts), you would have realized that there is no defense (don't take this the wrong way - bear with me). I'm glad you felt a need to defend - those were nice pics. In the meantime, it does not take much of a unique opinion to touch someone's hot button. There's not lot of looking at things from someone else's position that goes on here.

So let's look at your side. You felt that you did not get enough value from your experience to justify repeating it. You identified two specific properties of lessons that would make the experience more valuable to you (video and more drills). If I read the cost comment correctly, you might be willing to repeat the experience if the price was lower and you would pay a higher price if there was video and more drills. This does not need a defense. It is simply a report of your experience and your needs. People need to respect this.

Now let's look at this from the resort and the instructor's perspective. Although one member of a group may benefit while other members are being focused on, by definition a group member should expect only a small fraction of the lesson time devoted to their own unique needs. For a group lesson, the needs of all the members of the group need to coalesced into a lesson plan. Occasionally the needs of the group match up well and each member of the group gets a high percentage of the lesson time addressing things that are beneficial to them. This is the nature of the group lesson product. Instructors with greater skills are more adept at discovering the needs of the group members and teaching multiple lessons within the lesson to have a greater total impact among all group members. Many times students arrive at a lesson with goals like "make better turns". Having this as a starting point forces the instructor to start making some assumptions (e.g. improving resort skiing versus back country skiing) and making lesson plans based on observed strengths and weaknesses. Two other factors that effect lesson content are "safety, fun and learning" and "introduction, demonstration, practice and feedback". Going into the back country presents safety and time management issues for group lessons. Many students don't look at drills as being very much fun. Many students also tend to slip back into old habits when free skiing after the lesson. Therefore many pros incorporate free skiing in at the end of the lesson to see if the drill skills have been incorporated into the students "normal" skiing. It's one last opportunity to provide feedback to the students. These kinds of things may be changed upon specific student requests, but they will otherwise happen by default. Doing video in a normal group lesson is usually not very time efficient. Video often works better in camp products where the reviewing time can be done either over lunch or apres ski. But there are some instructors doing on snow video analysis in their lessons outside of the resort defined product.

From your comments I don't see anything damning about the structure of the lesson. What is disappointing is the results:
Quote:
I did not learn that much about my form or how to improve it. And most damming the vast majority of the techniques introduced were primarily valuable on terrain that is simply not all that interesting to me.
It is absolutely reasonable to expect to learn about your form and how to improve it. It seems unreasonable to expect a normal group lesson product at a resort to focus on back country terrain. If I read your post correctly, you did learn about some weaknesses in your skill set and how to address them (e.g. short radius turns and carving). It's just that what you learned was not relevant to what your objectives were. So it appears to me that the real problem here is a mismatch between results and expectations. You have not described specifically what you hoped to achieve in the lesson. Did the instructor ask you what your goals were?

What I find most interesting is the conclusion:
Quote:
Now I am thinking the "Piste" world really has some non-racing techniques and aesthetics that are unique.
On the face of it, this conflicts with my experience. But I will readily admit that there are significant differences between racing, bumps, carving, steeps, powder and just plain skiing. I look at these differences as making adjustments to technique as opposed to totally different techniques, but it is understandable how some could view these differences as different techniques altogether (Dan DiPiro's mogul technique is a good example). So where I see how the techniques used for short radius turns on blue groomers could be useful for skiing back country steeps, I can understand how others could believe differently. Where I see how retraction moves used for blue/black bumps could be used in the back country, others could legitimately call BS. Nonetheless, my suggestion is that searching for the common elements among these different forms of skiing and improving those will be rewarding for the skiing that you enjoy. Keep an eye out for threads talking about the "virtual bump".

The bottom line for me is that your posts have been most helpful for reminding me that pros need to continually focus on managing student expectations in order to make every lesson successful for every student. There are many times when all we have to do to improve our lessons is finding more creative ways of asking what they want. This experience was not a success and the percentage of responsibility for this falling upon the instructor is greater than zero. Whether the percentage of responsibility of the student is 1 or 99 is irrelevant and not worthy of debate or defense. Further, lessons are not economically efficient for everyone. As much as pros would like to believe they can help anyone enjoy skiing more, there are people who don't need to improve. Epic is about sharing information to facilitate improvements for the people interested in them and getting everyone stoked about skiing. We've done that here. Thank you.
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