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Why DON'T you take lessons?

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 
I bet most people here don't bother with lessons when they head up to the snow.

So, why not? What doesn't motivate you about ski lessons?
Did you have a bad experience? Are they a waste of time? Do the instructors at your hill ski worse than you do? Too expensive? Boring?!
post #2 of 64
Often all of the above. The trouble is you never know what the combination will be until after the event, there is little/no quality control in the service given. More of a lottery than a lesson.
post #3 of 64
Well.... ski instructors are dorks.
post #4 of 64
Hi ant
Do you need the work?
As little as I get to do it, and as much as I like it, I always try and get a lesson (or two) after a couple of days.
These days usually try for a private with one or two friends or the kids. This seems to give the best value for money and even then is costly but usually worth it.
The best thing I get from a lesson is the confidence to try things you might not on your own. Looking back up the slope as saying "Geez, did I do that!" great for the confidence and gives no excuse not to do it again.
The worst thing about lessons is putting your 15 year old tear the mountain apart son into ski school only to come back 2 hours later and find they had him touring the mountain with kids half his age because there was no onle else or in with adults who are a little more sedate and happy to ponder the philosophy of man and snow as an entity.
The "best" instructor - a man called Willie at Crystal Mountain WA who got my wifes confidence back after I had completely destroyed it. I never had a lesson with him, but he has had the same group coming back to him for 25 years I believe.
Enjoy the season
post #5 of 64
Thread Starter 
Well, Nomad, I'm genuinely curious to find out exactly how people feel about taking ski lessons! The vast majority of people on the hill do not take lessons, and it's good to find out exactly how people are feeling. Pete's thing struck a chord with me. Geoff needs to give us a nice meaty anecdote! Your stuff is great too. It's all very well to make assumptions but you can't beat real info from the people we're making assumptions about!

I always ask my people why they are taking a lesson, but you generally don't get to ask this question of people who don't.

And I'm hoping for some great stories!
post #6 of 64
I agree with Pete. It can be a lottery.
These days we tend to ask the school who will meet our needs and tell them what we want and see if we get it.
We have in the past got a refund on a lesson because of inappropriate placement.
It would be nice to ski somewhere long enough to build a relationship with someone.
I must admit the best source of tutition we had was a couple of years ago when we went to New Zealand with a friend who is a physical education teacher - good at skiing to - it was like having and instructor with you the whole day.
post #7 of 64
I took lessons this year for the first time ever.I did not know what to ask for in a lesson or what to expect as I like to ski the whole mountain & can,I mostly took the lessons to have other people of my ability to ski with as every one in my party were beginners or people who had not skied in a very long time. when I dropped my two boys at ski school they suggested a mountain master lesson for me,the first day was way cool,we did trees, bumps,nastar course-cool because I beat the instructor on one run ,hey I live in florida, anyway I really liked the bump tecnique he was teaching us & everyone in the lesson did well -no straglers.day two was not as much fun it was the instuctor from the first lesson day off. the second instructor only wanted to ski bumps & he was teaching the old bump style as if on straight skis ,stop & pivot on top of the bumps & he was mostly concerned about beer money-tips.I tipped both instructors but would not repeat with the second instructor.I hope when I take another lesson it turns out as fun as the first,the other reason & probably the biggest I took the lessons were that I had some special tickets that could be traded for lessons or rental gear or lift tickets,one ticket was for 1/2 day & add 20.00 for the rest of a whole day lesson.I think the tickets cost me 20.00 apiece as I bought them ahead of time.now in the future I will probably take more lessons even at normal cost now that I have a better idea what to ask for & about.
post #8 of 64
We have an expression in Australia relating to flyspray;
"When you're onto a good thing stick to it."
Probably holds true for instructors to.
(But then the one from last year was not there this year.)
post #9 of 64
1. Lessons are only for gapers.

2. Arnold is not a gaper.


3. Arnold does not take lessons.
post #10 of 64
Ant - you probably know this anyway - I take lessons because I need someone to tell me what my body is doing(also I just adore my wonderful bunch of instructors - so if I got better tomorrow I'd still take the damn lessons).

Nomad - I can give you names for Thredbo & Falls Creek (so far I have a GREAT strike rate - all those I arrange lessons/instructors for RAVE - then again ski schools know me VERY well)
post #11 of 64
Originally posted by Arnold Schwarzenegger:
1. Lessons are only for gapers.

2. Arnold is not a gaper.


3. Arnold does not take lessons.
Arnie. I think, in your case, we're referring to acting lessons.
post #12 of 64

The main reason I don't take lessons very often is cost. They're fairly expensive.

On the plus side, I've learned *something* from every lesson/coaching session I've ever taken.


Yes, Arnie, I'm a gaper and proud of it.
post #13 of 64
Yeah, I've only taken 1 lesson out west cause man, they are expensive.

This coming year I think I'm going to take another one.
post #14 of 64

So far, I have viewed lessons in two ways.
One, as a method to speed up my skill development in hopes of enhancing my enjoyment on the mountain.
Two, as a social "event" to share with my family or friends. Call it a structure or a treat.

I have been dissapointed with the first, perhaps because I come with expectations.
The second "reason" has been good to me.

I always feel the lessons are an added expense to an already $ restrictive activity.
The likely event of a "bad lesson" and wasted $ clangs around inside my brain.

I also did not grow up in a culture of lesson taking. Comparing my experiences with Disski's,I see there is a spectrum of social standards here.

As a kid, I took swimm lessons only 'till I could swim across the pool. I was then free!
Music lessons, which I never had, were regarded as punishment by my peer group.
Sport coaches didn't give "hockey lessons", they were the adult "access" to the good fields/ice etc.
Racing motorcycles was a self made process. Now there are
schools available.
I learned to fly by doing "training", not taking lessons, if you can see the difference. I would have a hard time putting this difference in words. Maybe a guy thing. Where's Cerano de Barns ?

Just a different culture regarding "lessons" for me.

I don't "do lessons", and I ski just fine. You should see the smile on my face.

I've often wondered, since the SS pros seem to be having so much fun, why don't they pay me to "teach me". I'm not nearly as worked up about it as they appear to be. (Last line pure jest)

post #15 of 64
Shiiiiiiit....why don't Willis be takin' lessons? Because Willis be skiin' better than any of those wannabe Willises anyways, you know? Most ski instructors can't even see me on the hill, let alone rip the fat lines like this dawg.

Cal, Willis be thinkin' that you be in dire need of a fat spliff to lively up yo'self! You be like Martha Stewart on Riddalin or some shit, you know? Damn, dawg, lighten up and relaaaaaax. Willis out.
post #16 of 64
This is the first year That I did not take a lesson almost time I went skiing. Part of the reason was the fact that my husband got me into skiing so he would have someone to ski with. [img]tongue.gif[/img]

But with 3 seasons of skiing, the finances are catching up with me, and I realize that if I want to keep doing this, I need to make some sacrifices. I did continue with multi day workshops, such as the ones offered at Okemo. The pricing on them is excellent. At Sugarloaf, the lesson is free with lodging, so of course I took class.

Part of the problem is, after reading so many posts from instructors about students that don't tip, if I'm already pushed beyond the limits of my finances, I feel guilty if I take class and don't have a penny left to tip the instructor. So I don't take class.
post #17 of 64
If I want to improve my skiing I run gates, slalom or GS. The best way to learn how to ski is join a ski team and have coaches teach you the proper way to ski gates. This becomes a multi-season endevour and your skiing will improve. If you can't do this, ski with others who have, by following their fast pace you will improve. Also ski some place with difficult terrain, and for gods sakes stay out of the bumps.
post #18 of 64
post #19 of 64
When I go for a week's skiing holiday, I always take 4-5 half-day lessons. Partly this is because my skiing group of friends are all of different abilities and this gives us people to ski with. If I go for a long weekend I don't have lessons as I want to get as much mileage as possible in the limited time available & I've always found lessons involve lots of hanging around.

I'm starting to feel a bit less enthusiastic about lessons, as I don't seem to be improving much in them any more. Also different instructors seem to contradict each other too much for my liking & I can't always tell who is old-fashioned & teaching me 'straight ski' technique and who is modern - they all _say_ they're up-to-date!

Also group lessons can be less than helpful when they don't get the abilities right. There always seems to be someone who we spend all our time waiting for.

Next season I'm going to try a private lesson (with hubby to split cost) and look hard for a native English-speaker as I have found language problems in the past. Also I reckon an instructor who chose to move somewhere to teach likely to have more dedication than local who had the choice of instruction or being a liftie (don't lecture me on damaging the lcoal economy here, I remember all of that thread).
post #20 of 64
Because after I have shelled out $60 for a lift ticket, $10 for lunch and $100 for a place to sleep I don't have enough money left to pay for lessons.

If I could afford lessons, I would take some, but until then I will just ski with people that are better than me, and pick at their brains for advice.
post #21 of 64
1.Cost – Family skiing, lodging, transportation, kids lessons, lift tickets….. Not much left for lessons.
2.Culture - I have never taken a lesson, I ski well, as well as most instructors. I know I could learn something, but seldom are “lessons” advertised to my level except the three-day to one-week clinics. These run about $100 to 250 per day and take a significant time commitment.
3.Advertising – except for multi-day clinics, the only advertising I have been swayed by are the clinics advertised by Alta under the lifts. $45 for a 2.5-hour specialty clinic on bumps, or powder, etc.
4.Benefit – I am concerned that the instructor I end up with will be inappropriate for my skill level. Will I learn anything?
5.Guarantees – There aren’t any. If I am unhappy I can get my $$$ back, but I don’t want my $$$ back, I want specific parameters and objective improvements, guaranteed (yes, I know this would have to cut both ways, but that’s reasonable).

There are more reasons. Maybe I will have time to post later.
post #22 of 64
Some interesting observations being made on this thread.

I've been teaching for 38 seasons, and I agree- it can be a real crapshoot as far as what caliber of instructor you'll get. :

Here are a couple of ideas to partly eliminate the "lottery" aspect of the issue, and an idea which might alleviate some of the financial burden.

Granted, in the group lesson arena, you have very little say in who your instructor might be. Therefore, go with a private lesson. I know- they are expensive. I'll get to that in a moment!

When selecting a private instructor, if you do not already have a specific instructor in mind or a referral, do yourself a favor. Call several days ahead, and specify that you want a Level 3 instructor, or even an examiner. (This call is not uncommon within the Vail system.)

I know that not all ski areas have an examiner on staff, or if they do, many are likely to be supervisors or managers. At least talk to one of these individuals, explain what you are specifically looking for, and allow them to make a recommendation. Then if it doesn't work, you have someone to talk to about it!

Now- how to manage the costs!-
At many resorts (at least at most of the larger ones), the cost of the private is flat rated for the first 5-6 guests. So whether there is 1 or 6, it is the same price.
Get 4-5 of your friends(same skiing ability) to share the lesson with you! The greatest thing about taking a private, is that you, the guest, can dictate the course of the lesson. No tag-alongs, no weak skiers, you pick the terrain, you determine the outcomes. You make your own cohesive group.
Spread among 5-6, the price comes out being about the same as if you had taken a group lesson! But you will usually move at a faster pace than a group, spend less time talking, and get in much more skiing / runs! [img]smile.gif[/img]

By the way- all day privates usually last about an hour LONGER than all-day group lessons! (Start earlier...) More BONUS Skiing! [img]smile.gif[/img]

In a group lesson environment, as most of you have described, the instructor will find the average of the group, and pace the lesson for the weakest skier in the group. The content will be an amalgamation of each participants desires. The instructor has a difficult task- meet each skiers expectations, while dealing with so many different skiers. Not impossible for an experienced instructor, but still not easy!
During the course of that group lesson, the instructor will spend at best, an equal amount of time with each student, and in many cases, will spend more with the weakest of the group.

With a private, given that all skiers are reasonably similar in ability and goals, the amount of time each student will receive is greatly increased. [img]smile.gif[/img]

post #23 of 64
My gripes about lessons are not all that different from those already posted, except for my own personal "weighting factors" and pet "issues".

In contrast to the title of this thread, I do take the occasional lesson, although much less frequently than when I was younger. There are several reasons that my rate of lesson taking has slowed dramatically:

1) I find that most instructors that I run into to be dreadfully, laughably, *painfully* inarticulate …particularly, the younger guys. This realization really hits home after having wonderful interactions with many of the instructors on EpicSki.

2) I find that most instructors that I have dealt with are competent only in one approach to teaching, and are utterly incapable of switching to a different approach, even asked specifically to do so. If it isn't already obvious, I strongly prefer a bio-mechanical, lots-of-detail approach (which I realize is probably pretty rare).

3) I find that most of the instructors that I have run into operate in a canned, “one-shoe-fits-all” mode when in a group or even semi-private setting. Unless the class size is huge, they should be able to personalize their interactions with me to at least some degree. It is almost a complete waste of my time and money to get a lesson that I have heard a zillion times before, and that is only a notch or two above “bend ze knees, ten dollars pleeze”.

4) I find that the desk person is completely unable to help (and usually uninterested) in matching me (or my kid) up with a suitable instructor. Once outside, its no better, since finding a supervisor (at the lineup) and
getting his/her attention in the midst of all the confusion is difficult, so you wind up having very little chance of being matched up appropriately (unless you do a “request”).

5) “Requests” are often infeasible because I often find myself at a mountain where I know no one.

6) In a group or larger semi-privates, its usually very awkward / inappropriate to bring up teaching methodology, content or other such
issues, even when done in the most delicate manner. You really can’t even explain why you have decided to leave the lesson without embarrassing the instructor in front of the other students, so I usually just say something like “I’m not feeling good” and then head down to the ski school, or simply grin and bear it for the remainder of the class.

As per VSP's recommendations, to avoid some of the above problems, in recent years, when I do take a lesson, I usually opt for a private one unless I'm simply looking to get a bit of mountain guiding and/or a bit of socializing (particularly if I am skiing by myself). Although privates are costly (especially if done
frequently), I then can then get the ear of a supervisor, ask specifically for what I want, privately check the cert level, age, and other particulars of the proposed instructor, etc.

Just my $0.02,

Tom / PM

PS - I realize that most of us on Epic are not typical ski-school clientele, but I suspect that the answers you see in this thread are reasonably typical of more advanced, in-it-for-the-long-haul recreational skiers.

PS#2 - I really want to get back to the great "perfect turn" thread, but am still hard pressed for time right now...maybe later tonight...
post #24 of 64
Originally posted by PhysicsMan:

If it isn't already obvious, I strongly prefer a bio-mechanical, lots-of-detail approach (which I realize is probably pretty rare).

If you are going to ski in Aspen at all I can suggest an instructor there you should enjoy [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #25 of 64
I actualy make it a point to grab a lesson at least at the beginning and half way through the season. More often if I can scrape up the bread. The only time a skier can't improve is when they are dead (my opinion) so I try and follow aloow with a few lessons scoping for good instructors.
post #26 of 64
Thread Starter 
This is excellent info, thank you, all of you! (And if anyone has their own opinion to contribute, please keep posting).

I hope some of the SS admin types are reading this. There seems to be a common theme: lessons are seen as too expensive for what might be a good experience, but might well be a disappointing WOFTAM (aussies will know what that means!).
This for me is valuable stuff, it'll make me more aware of what's in the guests' minds when they buy a lesson, and stop me from making assumptions.

The advice to talk to a supervisor to ensure you get a good instructor is good: the people behind the counter, in my experience, have no idea who is good. Actually, the counter people were responsible for many of the inappropriate lesson selections this season - people being in classes that were too advanced for them (memories of having to coach a man down from the top of the hill, he was barely level 2 and was in Parallel Breakthrough on the advice of the counter person).

If you follow the excellent advice to make up your own group via a private lesson (a lot of people do this, as they've worked out it can be more cost-effective), do give some serious thought to the ability levels of each participant. The terrain you end up on and speed of progress will be dictated by the weakest skiier in the group.

As for asking for a level 3 or examiner, I'm not sure about that, as in the US, level 3s don't have to keep their certification or knowledge current.
post #27 of 64
I know I would benefit greatly from lessons. I just don't have the funds. I can barely ski all I want as it is, and I doubt I would let go of a few days of skiing for a days lesson. Just the hard truth.

Not everyone out there on the hill has lots of free money. It seems that way on this forum--lots of professional people travelling the world having fun and with the best equipment, la de da. I would hang with the maggots, only I am too damn old. (Yo, Willis, you be hearin DAT? I am starting to like you more and more now that I reamed you for dissin women...)

I will take lessons when they become reasonable. I may never take one, but I will still have fun anyway. When you suck at a sport, there is always some newcomer to ski with on any given hill.

PS. If maggots post here with gapers, does that make them Gaggots???
post #28 of 64
I was not aware that you could buy a private lesson but then have a group of people in the lesson,is this a common pratice & do the schools & instructors like & allow this.like I said before not knowing what to ask for or what to expect rank right up there with cost but cost is still the highest concern.funny thing is cost for lessons for the kids did not bother as bad even though it was like 80.00 a day for each,2 kids 6&11 80.00 x 4 days each = 640.00 not what you would call cheap but necesary, that is main question are they necesary,if they are then cost is not as important. bteddy
post #29 of 64
Thread Starter 
Yes, I often had privates that were family groups. They done the maths and worked out that a 2 hour private at $180 or thereabouts for dad, mum and 2 kids was cheaper than $90 each per kid for the day, plus $45 each for adults for 2.5 hour group lessons. The rub is though that the terrain will be set at the poorest skiier's level (I wish the counter people could make this clearer! Often guests don't think of this).

I also once had a private that was 6 kids who'd arrived with a church group, all beginners. That was a shocker actually. 5 teenage athletic boys, and a 5 year old girl. Unbelieveable.

Most resorts will have some guidelines as to how many you can have in a private, but it's basically your call, it's your private!
post #30 of 64
Another quick idea I forgot to put on my last post-

Go VERY early or VERY late season, when the groups will be small, and special pricing deals exist.

I realize that late doesn't do a whole lot of good sometimes, but each of you can decide that for yourselves!

Remember- to take advantage of the 5-6 person private, YOU must put your own group together. The schools will not usually do it for you.

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