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Whose to blame if I have a bad lesson?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
IMO, ME! I'm a big beliver in personal responsibility. I also love the net. To me, the latter allows us to make the informed choices that make the former possible. SCSA's mea culpa post got me thinkingabout the crap lessons i've taken in the past and how that won't happen again. Why? B/c with the net, and specifically this site, i'm an informed consumer and know just who to go to. and this knowledge is open to ALL who bother to search the net. In a perfect world, there would be nothing but Bob Barnes' (who i have it on good authority is absolutely WACKED! with passion and knowledge for and of skiing), but til then we have the net to help us seperate the wheat from the chafe.
post #2 of 17
Ski instruction is such a non-Internet item that I think your choices would be very limited. To cull the good from the not-so-good is a very difficult process. At my ski area, there are some not-so-good instructors that leave out some very basic movements in their lessons. However, the guests think they are great. Here is where personalities come in to equation. A good instructor is one that combines a very personable appearance while possessing the technical and teaching expertise to facilitate a good learning experience.
post #3 of 17
So. The $64,000 question is if I don't have any contacts at the resort or friends with recommendations, how do I find that good instructor at a particular resort so that I can try and reserve him/her before I go? What should I request/demand in contacting the ski school?
post #4 of 17
Originally posted by Skidmo:
How do I find that good instructor at a particular resort so that I can try and reserve him/her before I go?
A suggestion would be to ask here - if others here have been to the resort, and can remember good instructors, then it is something we could do to pass that info on.

post #5 of 17
At some point, what CAN you do? Not much. Even an instructor recommended word-of-mouth WON'T necessarily be right for you. Maybe, but no guarantee. Same the other way; an instructor someone trashes might've been just your cup of tea. You HAVE to (IMHO) accept that the hit-and-miss of it is there. Unless you've seen the instructor at work, or had a previous lesson, how can you possibly know?
I think it's mostly preparing yourself - I happen to agree very strongly that a ski lesson's success or failure gets back to the student as much as the instructor, if not more so - for a lesson that might not be at all what you expect. And it's good that you'll be specific with the ski school/instructor about what you want to work on. (But, for example, your preparation should include knowing that you might very well want to work on short turns, just to have an instructor say "sure, let's go do it," then, after watching you make a few turns, suggest "we go back a step" to iron out some small detail he/she sees that need addressing before going to the (obvious) short turn work.
That instance alone is probably enough to get some people to cry Bad Lesson. When really maybe they missed the opportunity - if they just went through the motions, marked mainly by passivity - to do some "detail work" that, while not seeming to, correlated directly with the dynamics of the short turn. For example.
Besides all this, even if you DO end up in a truly bad lesson - and you know it - it's still on you to first get
SOMEthing out of it (figure out how/why it's "bad," for one), then discuss with the ski school (as constructively as possible).
I've had three lessons. My first two ski days a few years ago and another last December. The instructors (all men) were three very different individuals, with dissimilar styles. Two of the lessons were great, the other, poor (mainly attitude/laziness). (Again, though, early in the lesson I realized the non-fit, decided to make the best of it by at least paying attention, while not getting bent out of shape by the attitude, and working at the fundamentals I'd been introduced to the day before.)
Anyway, to reiterate, the more responsibility you accept for your lesson, the better the chance it will be successful.
post #6 of 17
All right, I'll bite. I'll be going to Vail in late January. I would greatly appreciate any recommendations as to instructors with whom people have had good experiences (or at least heard indirectly). From a skill level standpoint, I would guess I'm sixish.

[I didn't want to start a separate thread as I'm not sure that's an appropriate use of this forum.]
post #7 of 17

actually, appropriate indeed to post in INSTRUCTION "Vail ski instructor recommendations." You'll at least get a PM or two from those with experience.
post #8 of 17
IMO, ME! I'm a big believer in personal responsibility.
Right Trey.

Anyway, to reiterate, the more responsibility you accept for your lesson, the better the chance it will be successful

Right again, Ryan.

I too believe that you must make the most of the opportunity. That said there are bad instructors and some instructors that just do not mesh with a student. As Trey said I would be less likely to put up with either because of this forum.

Bob Barnes thread on ‘Splitting-How To’ reminded me of a lesson a couple of years back at Beaver Creek. The instructor sorted us; as best I could tell, by gender and appearance. He ended up with all attractive women. I guess I should have been flattered but I was there for a ski lesson not a beauty contest. I am sure the look on my face said it all. Another instructor came by and subtly asked if I would rather join his "group" one other guy. Away I went. Turned out to be a great lesson.

The only bad lesson I can remember is where the instructor and I never really understood each other. When it was clear I did not understand his instruction he would repeat it louder and slower. LOUDER and SLOWER. At that time I just continued frustrated. Now because of this forum I would just say that we were unsuited and ask for another lesson another day.
post #9 of 17

Is your trip to Vail firm? We are organizing a primo learning event at Solitude Jan. 27-29 for EpicSkiers. Bob Barnes will be there. I will be there. Many of the EpicSki regulars, both pros and recreational skiers, will be there. I think I can say with confidence that the experience will go beyond your greatest expectations in skier development, camaraderie, and personal growth.

Think about it: you will be able to form your own opinions about the qualifications of your instructors from their contributions to the instructional and technique forum, as well as the other forums on EpicSki. You will have a fair idea of who you'll be skiing with in the group. Best of all, you will have the advantage of learning before, during, and after the event and of combining real-time and cyberspace learning experiences to double the impact.

In short, if you could arrange a side trip to Utah before going to Vail, you wouldn't need to find an instructor there because you would just want to practice everything you learned in Utah on all those white acres at Vail.
post #10 of 17
WHO is "We"? The STUDENTS aren't organizing the Jan 27 to Jan 29 event at Solitude - if they knew that much about it, they [we] wouldn't be students! So, who IS "organizing" the event?

When I was a student at college in th R.O.T.C. progam, we learned that the first rule of engagement is "Unity of Command" - somehow, somewhere, some ONE must be the capo tuti capo, the boss of all bosses. If no instructor steps forward to accept that mantle, the "event" will be without structure - which is fine by me, as long as I get to ski with a pro and learn something I want to learn.
post #11 of 17
Nolo, it sounds wonderful, but I'm firmly in Vail at that time. Thanks for the thought.

Also, I'll move my instructor request over to a separate thread so as to get the right eyes on it. Thanks to all.
post #12 of 17

I guess I was thinking Summerhill (when the students are ready the teachers will appear) and you were thing VMI (Lords of Discipline).

Perhaps our reluctance to come forward is because someone has accepted the tutti frutti mantle of leadership already? The litigator by name of Maddog?
post #13 of 17
I don't think there's always someone to blame if you've had a bad lesson. It usually is the fault of either the instructor or the student, but, as already stated, it may just be a communication or personality issue.

As was previously recommended to me, if you do get a lesson that is not what you expected, tell the ski school director. I've never done it, but many of the highly respected and knowledgable instructors on this forum have assured that a ski school director will be happy to hear the feedback, and, more likely than not, be willing to rectify the situation in one way or another.

So, it may not by your fault if you've had a bad lesson, but you are at fault if you do nothing about it.
post #14 of 17
In retrospect, as angry as I've been after a bad lesson, I'm glad that I understood enough to know why it was bad!
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Actually my 1st lesson was GREAT! It was taught by a goddess named Holly. Ahhhhh Holly.....All us guys were motivated to learn double-quick just to keep up with her!!!

Is Man from Oz teaching at Vail this coming year? If so, I'd give him a try or PM him for some recommendations.

I agree with those who say no amount of info will guarantee a great lesson, but I still maintain that a few questions will likely reduce the chances of an awful one and some real research will give good chances of an excellent one. It's like hiring any other pro--doc, lawyer etc--if you think about it.
post #16 of 17
Originally posted by Skidmo:
So. The $64,000 question is if I don't have any contacts at the resort or friends with recommendations, how do I find that good instructor at a particular resort so that I can try and reserve him/her before I go? What should I request/demand in contacting the ski school?
You can start by asking/requiring a certified PSIA level III instructor for advanced intermediate lessons and no less than a level II ski instructor for lessons beginner intermediate and down. Also determine in your own mind if you would learn better from a man or woman. If you are competitive let them know you are. Try and tell the ski school desk “who” you are and you want to be teamed with and individual that can teach a person like you. You will be surprised if you are open how good they can match you because you have shown you really care about your learning. I would like to tell you this will guarantee a great lesson but alas it will only put you in the right ballpark.

Now interview the instructor politely and see what you thing. If it doesn’t work you can either continues or throw the instructor a small tip and tell the instructor no thanks and go see the ski school desk. They will give you another lesson for free. Remember their live blood is a happy client!

To address the issue of bad instructor good personality and everyone thinks that bad instructor is good, kind of so what. I have seen many great instructors fail because of bad blends of student and instructor and many maybe not so great instructors really achieve good things with students in the long run because blends were right! Of course this is simply my opinion of the instructor. When the moons are in alignment don’t fight the alignment. While it may take a little more time to get there they will get there. At least part of the environment to learn, a big part, is there.

Finally please understand if the student fails so does the instructor. In fact good instructors fail a lot more than the student. I know the student is out the bucks and that is bad but we can give the student another lesson. As a student you can’t imagine when it doesn’t work how much an instructor agonizes. Does it sound like I have been there? Well I can tell you it does hurt because I have. I give the student a freebie on the ski school, pick the instructor I want, bear my soul to my fellow instructor, and that’s that except for the beating I give myself as I turn tail!

Have a GREAT day!

post #17 of 17

Since you are from Colorado, are you looking for lessons at one of the large destination areas or, at a smaller "local" spot? Usually, the smaller area will have a few good pros on hand but the instructor "pool" will be larger and better paid at a destination area.

I think the key here is communicating. You need to convey to the person doing the booking, your current skill level and the things that you want to work on. If you are fuzzy regarding your requirements you may end up with a lesson that is not satisfactory. Don't walk in and announce that "I'm an expert and need an expert instructor".

Mentioning that you take skiing a bit on the serious side and ski 40 times a year ...... for __ years, will help them gain perspective on who YOU are as a client.

Call ahead since the good un's are usually booked, or be willing to wait.

If you were clear and they were clear regarding your needs and, the lesson is a bad one ...... THEY are to blame.
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