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Help needed: Finding someone to work with long term in Colorado

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Looking for some practical lesson taking/improvement advice. Over the past few months I feel as though I’ve hit a plateau that I’m having difficulty getting past. The obvious answer to this is to take a lesson, or better still a course of lessons. Ideally I would just take a private each week, however there’s no way that I can afford to do that, so I’m trying to come up with some alternatives.

To give a little background. I’m now late 20’s and have been skiing for the past 9 years. I’m originally from England and caught the ski bug whilst studying in Grenoble, France. Since then my life has pretty much revolved around skiing – some would say I’m obsessed… I’ve done 3 seasons in total: Les Arcs, Las Lenas and Jackson Hole. Having skied predominantly at these places, the type of skiing I enjoy is what’s often termed ‘free riding’. I’m not really one for carving arcs on groomers if there’s soft snow, (or even crud), to be found elsewhere.

Currently I’m living in Denver and get up to the mountains without fail each weekend – I’ve got the 5 mountain and Loveland passes. I’ve lived here for 2 yrs now and probably get 50 days in a season. Currently when I ski it tends to be with snowboarder friends that live in Vail, or with my girlfriend – which whilst fun doesn’t push me to improve at all. For reference, here’s a video of me skiing a month or so ago at Breck: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9VFTw0JOaM I actually posted that up in this forum, and have since been trying to work on the points people raised. Here’s also a link to an earlier thread I started back when I was living in Jackson, which contains video: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=34853 I’m generally comfortable skiing most types of snow, but want to now progress to skiing more aggressively, taking a little air and flowing/using the terrain features more instinctively.

What I’m looking for is to work with someone who really wants to help me improve over the longer term, and work co-operatively with me to achieve that. What I feel I can offer in return is a genuine commitment to improve through hard work. I’m not in any way averse to group lessons, however there seems to be an element of chance there: maybe you’ll get a decent group with a decent instructor, or maybe you won’t. And the prospect of a different instructor every week is not what I’m after. If there were such a thing as a longer-term group lesson, then that’s something I’d potentially be interested in. Other possibilities I’ve considered are a masters racing or freestyle program, which would certainly help my fundamentals. If anyone has any information on such programs within reach of Denver then I’m all ears. The one thing I wouldn’t be able to do is to go away and do say a week long clinic – I just can’t get the time off work.

Budget wise, I’d be willing to spend up to $400 a month and commit to regular lessons. I realize that isn’t much money in ski-lesson terms, but that’s already stretching it.! If anyone has any ideas, or suggestions of people that might work with me to achieve my goals, that would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
post #2 of 18
Have you considered instructing part time or volunteering for an adaptive program? It can provide access to regular clinics, etc. Also, teaching is a good way to improve because it 'forces' you to do what you say you don't like so much: making those groomer turns. That will help you in the other conditions you like better. Not instruction exactly, but it might gain similar results. Then you could augment it with a private from one of your fellow instructors whom you particularly like or whose ski skills you particularly admire.
post #3 of 18
I second Mom's recommendations.

Breckenridge has an unlimited lesson program for $169.00 per year.
It is too late to purchase this year but may be something to think about next year. Although you are part of a group, you can very often ski with the same instructor each week if you choose to do so.
post #4 of 18
Mr O

I think you're probably compulsive, not obsessive (not that anybody cares).

I suggest you find 2-4 like minded individuals, pool your money, and hire some privates for your little group.

4 people should be able to afford a private every other week at least - that would be sweet!!!

This idea was suggested to me by Rusty Guy some years ago, and I should have followed it up.
post #5 of 18
Mr. O,

At $400/month, the only regular coaching you can get are group lessons, "on the side" or "on the house". As you've noted, group lessons can be hit or miss. However, taking two per month and specifically asking for drills to work on can be a good option for you to have enough to work with through the rest of this season. The two big problems with "on the side" (aka under the table) lessons are finding a coach to do this for you and then all of the issues associated with a coach who is willing to do this versus insisting on a formal relationship (e.g. insurance, coaching skills, ethics). These issues are not always deal breakers, but it should make you think twice before trying to save a buck. Be aware that under the table coaching on USFS land (i.e. most of the CO resorts) is illegal. Since the odds of getting busted are miniscule this is only an ethics issue. However, making such arrangements in full public would not be advisable. Most employees of resorts offer free lessons (i.e. on the house) as a benefit. Instructors tend to get the best training, but there usually are other volunteer positions like "hosts" that have lower time commitments that also may be a good option for you.

I agree with your self assessment that you've reached a level where it's going to take hard work to keep improving. The time honored, most efficient way to do this is to get a steady coach. There are other, cheaper alternatives that may get the job done for you. All the information you need to bring your skiing up a few more levels exists here on Epic. Separating the wheat from the chaff and turning information into performance is the tricky part. But it is free. There are also books, videos and even an entire System available that can introduce you to higher levels of Expert Skiing. This approach is little more expensive than free, but a lot less expensive than coaching. Going all the way past lessons, there are also multi day "camps". This may be a good option for you this season. Although these are group lessons, your odds of having a top quality coach are greatly improved and an intense learning experience may be more likely to help you breakthrough to the next level versus lots of one or two hour lessons. Epic runs camps called Epic Ski Academy. Other good camps include NASTC, (All Mountain Ski Pros), X-Team advanced clinics and PMTS. Save a couple of months of $400 and you'll have camp tuition covered.

Congratulations on getting your skiing this far, good luck on your quest for the next level and once again welcome to Epic.
post #6 of 18
I disagree with therusty's first statement. For $400. a month you can get excellent instruction going directly through a resort or other ski school.

The most important thing is, you have defined what you want, a good instructor to work with over the long term. You have also posed this question at a good time of year when resorts are open & you can find out programs, deals, etc. Easier to get numerous recommendations for top instructors from a variety of sources,friends,good skiers. They are teaching now.

There are some great suggestions above, including the remainder of therusty's post. So I'll throw in a little more info. based on my desire to find good long term coaching this year. (started my search in Summer but much harder to get the info than in Winter.) I received numerous recommendations for 3 top instructors. My choice of 1 of those 3 recommendations came about by affordability & scheduling & worked like this through the resort ski school: Privates run $100/hr & a 2 hr minimum. But, as a passholder to a sister resort from where that instructor is, they have a resort rewards program that racks up points very quickly for almost everything you do or spend. 15,000 pts added each day you ski. etc,. I can use those points at either resort. So yes, I spent $300 for a 3 hr private. Those points paid for 1/2 of another 3 hr private, add in points gained by a variety of ways, & I had enough for 2 more 3 hour privates. 9 hours of private instruction for $300. So I made a choice btwn 3, it worked well, I could afford it, it fit my schedule.
Another way I have available, at my home mountain, but haven't used , a 1 hr private as an "early bird" 1st chair, for $64. And I can schedule it with a specific instructor each time for consistency.

So, get recommendations for top instructors for what you want to do. Find out about any deals , pass holder specials, instruction programs that the various mountains/resorts may have. They may have regularly scheduled clinics that bring you consistency even. It can help you figure out how to get a great instructor, consistency & good progression with the money & time you have. It also helps determine where you want to spend your season pass money at, & the resorts know that. I would think you could get several multi hour "private" lessons in each month on your budget. And with your remaining ski time, practice what you learn & go have fun! You can use the other resources to learn more & balance things out. Also look at other possibilities, example is what Cirquerider, abertsch, et all did with the Eski Holiday monthly clinic(see gathering,get together forum). I'd like to get my skiing to the level where I could join them & hope that montly clinic goes next year. Maybe you could find a way of creating something similar in your area to add to the mix. Good luck & good skiing !
post #7 of 18
Mr. O, One last thought & it really is a good course of action. Enlist the female gender in your quest, we are really good at finding how to make a dollar stretch. It's inherent. It's not about a bargain, it's about how to achieve what we want within the rules, how to work it, & with a smile on everyone's face.
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by 911over View Post
I disagree with therusty's first statement. For $400. a month you can get excellent instruction going directly through a resort or other ski school.
Please allow me to clarify where I'm coming from. Mr. O lives in Denver and is looking for a private coach. Private lessons are $425 for 3 hours at Keystone. I'm assuming Vail, etc. are all similarly priced. Loveland runs $95 for 1 1/2 hours or $190 for a 3 hour shot. Although you can't do one 3 hour private lesson/week for under $400 for the mountains that O has passes to, one could do one 90 minute lesson per week on that budget. I stand corrected.
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post
Please allow me to clarify where I'm coming from. Mr. O lives in Denver and is looking for a private coach. Private lessons are $425 for 3 hours at Keystone. I'm assuming Vail, etc. are all similarly priced. Loveland runs $95 for 1 1/2 hours or $190 for a 3 hour shot. Although you can't do one 3 hour private lesson/week for under $400 for the mountains that O has passes to, one could do one 90 minute lesson per week on that budget. I stand corrected.

Aww, but therusty, Mr.O is planning for the future. When he finds the instructor (s) he would like to ski with, there are often a variety of ways offered by the resort to make it affordable. And he is looking for long term consistent coaching. I would think, especially using the sports diamond, that 2 2hr-3 hr privates per month over a season or more would be great for progressing. Then the time in between allows for practice & just plain skiing & applying new skills. After all, self coaching with guidance from a coach goes a long way. And sometimes a fun clinic can be thrown in.

My 10 yr old may ski with his coach & team each week, & never ski unsupervised, but that is due to his age. Most of his time is ski time, progression time, opportunity & discovery time by doing. I only correct/coach his skiing when he's doing too much straightlining on the easy runs, that's when mommy overtakes & says "follow me & TURN". Or I just head to a steeper run where he has no choice.

I understand from a pro's point, but from the consumer & resort marketing point, there are many programs & other ways that workout that pro's aren't aware of. They don't generally interact with Marketing afterall.

I mean, I got a 1/2 day coaching from the Luna Chix of NASTC & fun skiing with other women, & it was free, the breast cancer donation is tax deductible, & I gained a new skill & smiled the whole time ! Plus there is another resource available locally to me for coaching that I was exposed to. Not just the Luna Chix, but NASTC. If I were to do a NASTC course at my sister resort - I get a discount ! So the reality is, find out who you want to be instructed by & look for & search out the economic opportunities. My instructor had no idea, he was there to ski & teach, but I did & it made it possible. A person can limit themselves by the printed or published info , they need to look for the possibilities and not be limited !
post #10 of 18
I was on the lift the other day with some guys on a program that was run through the comp centre here at Winter Park. It was a group program but that day there was one group with 1 student and one with 2.

Just checked on the comp centre page and you can get unlimited training (3/4 days a week if you want) with either the race or freestyle program (you can crossover as well) for 1,350 dollars a season including a season pass. I'm not sure but I would guess the coach would be the same each week.

When you think that a half day private costs 339 bucks it's damn good value.

I'm not involved in this program by the way, I only just read about it myself!

Heres the link for it
http://www.skiwinterpark.com/competi...dult/index.htm
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by 911over View Post
I understand from a pro's point, but from the consumer & resort marketing point, there are many programs & other ways that workout that pro's aren't aware of. They don't generally interact with Marketing afterall.
Thanks for info and the personal experience. For the record, I do work for marketing in addition to teaching and make an effort to keep up because I invariably get asked questions and called on the carpet when I give wrong answers when I don't. I'm also a firm supporter of working the system to find the best deals. You've provided a bunch of ideas on that score. Thanks. The Breck unlimited program, the NASTC Luna Chix experience and the season long programs are the kinds of things I was thinking about when I wrote my first response. We are thinking along the same lines. Thanks for making the point more clearly.

So "O" - do you have enough options to consider now?
post #12 of 18
Jim. , those can be great programs. My son is in a once a week non-race program for an outstanding price. Depending on how the resort runs it that can be a great way to go. With my son's program the benefits are a season pass, the same instructor & team for the season. No dealing w/any chaos of getting into a lesson. The best instructors are assigned because it is a choice assignment and a nice mix into their week of daily ski school. That consistency make a big difference in progression. NO stress on mom to arrange anything each ski day.

therusty - it's all about the possibilities. I have found once I've figured out what I want & and what it may take to accomplish it, the possibilities of "how" just start showing up. I try hard not to look in a box when searching for possibilities. And when the bump in the road shows up, more possibilies arrive on the other side.
post #13 of 18
Yep, I teach similar programs for kids through WP ski school. Every Fri, Sat and Sun, I teach groups of local kids and ones from Denver. It's cool because you get to know them and they improve loads (all mine could ski black bumps in the first week so they're wicked good now!).

The programs I linked to were through comp centre, which is a bit different.
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the responses! There are some great suggestions in there, and i'm going to start doing my research. Short term i think i'll get a few privates - possibly at loveland as i like the 1.5hr option. Will supplement this with books and study. Next season i'll certainly go for either an unlimited program or the program up at Winter Park. Will try and get out to an Epic clinic/summit also.

Thanks again for all the advice - very much appreciated. As i look through the options i'll post back up if i find anything that might be of interest to others.

All the best.
post #15 of 18
If you like the idea of 1.5 hour privates, we have a first tracks (you're on the lifts an hour before everyone else, good on a powder day!) private here at Winter Park for $125 and some very talented instructors that are available on request:.
post #16 of 18
Copper used to have a great program that was called Sunday Sunsation. It provided all season long lessons with the same coach. I used it for 3 years, then Copper discontinued it.

Copper replaced it with the All Mountain Masters ski program at a significantly increased price and with greatly reduced number of days. My buddies and I, who all had formed a close relationship through the Sunday program, signed up so that we could continue to ski with our coach with whom we had made significant progress. The management at Copper, however, did not seem to value our business, so this year most of us are in the $169 program at Breck.

There's a lot going for the Breck program, not the least of which is the price, and you get to cut lift lines. There are some good instructors at Breck, and I've picked up some good pointers.

However, it is not common for you to get the same instructor, which means that the coaching is not the same as when you develop a longer-term coaching relationship. Add to that that at the higher levels (I generally ski in the level 9 group) there is not as much coaching -- and more skiing.

Keystone has a Sunday lesson package for $199. I don't know if you get the same instructor every week, but given that Bob Barnes is there and I believe he started the Copper program, I wouldn't be surprised.

I've had private lessons and group lessons. I rarely have had a group that did not work. I think the group lesson experience can also be useful as you can see other people's skiing and learn what needs to be worked on in it as well.

Personally, I don't think you will get much if anything out of a 1.5 hour private. I'd save your money, sign up for a group lesson program in Summit County, and/or go to ESA.

Mike
post #17 of 18
The short private at Lovelend is only available in the afternoon which in my mind give you very little time to groove the movements before their lifts close. Aspen offers a better option because their early bird private is first thing in the morning, giving you the whole day to work on changing your movements. The price is a bit higher but to work there you need to be a full cert and in many cases you're working with an examiner, or a demo team level coach. Something very few other schools anywhere can offer you.
post #18 of 18
Although a bit of an interesting "stretch", if you're in the age group, you might also consider the OHG at Copper. There are clinics offered throughout the year, and it's not difficult to meet and ski with the same guides throughout the season, many of whom hold current certifications. Also, a number of the members are exceptionally focused and making progress in their own skiing.

Just a thought from a guy who guides for the OHG and had a great day guiding and giving a few pointers today...
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