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Is This A Proper lesson?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm an intermediate skier. I can ski anything, no matter how steep, if it's groomed. However, toss me onto the bumps or into the powder, and I become an idiot. I sit back on my skis. I don't face down the mountain. I'm not sure what's wrong.

Here's what I'd like to do. Given the number of posters who are professionals, I was wondering if you'd react poorly to this or if it's a proper request.

Given that the season is pretty much over in the Sierra's (and, thanks to a major fall when i decided to try to learn bumps just by doing, and failed miserably, this season is definitely over for me!), I figure I'll wait until next year, when we plan a week trip. I'd like to ski a day first to "get my skis under me", i.e., make sure I'm on the balls of my feet, and that I'm skiing well. Then, I'd like to take a private lesson in which I tell the instructor, "I can ski the groomers, but want to be competent on the rest of the mountain." I don't mind if we start out on the groomers, so that (s)he can tell me if I'm doing something wrong on the groomers that will translate to other problems. But I'd like to end up in the powder or on the bumps. Heck, I'd be happy in the ski'd off crud, where I also seem to lose it.

Is this not fair to ask of an instructor? I ask because, in computers, I wouldn't want a client to think they know how to get what they want. I ask them to tell me what they want and then let me come up with a proposal for how we're going to get there, and a budget. From then on, it's my job to meet their needs as I see them, and to come in under budget. If they come to me and say, "I want you to write me a program that works like this, and only like this," I bail out before we get frustrated with each other. I'm a professional, and they're paying me for my knowledge, skill and experience. Telling me how to do my job is counterproductive for both of us.

In other words, would I be presumptuous with a request like this? Should I just be asking someone to improve my skiing, or is it acceptable to be specific in what I want to learn? I'm not sure if what I'm asking is comparable to giving me a set of requirements (a good thing -- you know what you want!) or to telling me how to code to those requirements (a stupid thing).

Thanks, all! I hope you can let me know. This year was a breakthrough year in my skiing, at least in part due to this board and some of the discussions I read. I look forward to getting better!
post #2 of 16
Sounds like you got it perfect in the way you would ask. Only thing I would add is to call ahead to the ski school and ask to talk to the Director and explain to him/her what you are looking for and convey to them your concerns, needs and requests. Ask for a Level 2 Cert at a minimum or go for it all and request a level 3 or examiner. Make the reservation in advanced. This way you don't just get an instructor that does privates. If the director is doing their job, they will match you up to an instructor that will fit your needs more specifically and make it more likely that you will have a good experience. If it is in the budget or if you have friends that ski at the same level or close to the same level, See if they want to join you. The pricing gets a little better to split the costs and may allow you to hire the same instructor for multiple days. Say 2 hours on your second day and 2 hours on your fourth day. By getting the same instructor they can follow your progression and pick up where you leave off and this saves a lot of time so you get a better lesson the second day.

By the way, Congrats on the "breakthrough Season"
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[This message has been edited by dchan (edited March 18, 2001).]</FONT>
post #3 of 16
I'd like to add some thoughts to this one...

Here's my "secret" view on skiing. I accept that it's perhaps a contentious one, but friendly debate is why we're here. There is no secret, so stop trying so hard to find one. We tend to be prone to losing sight of the forest for all them damn trees.

So if this "secret" does not exist, no amount of ski instruction will help you you find it. We don't have "it" either! What we do have is a great deal of knowledge. The more you study skiing, the more knowledge you can gain. Bear in mind, study does not become knowledge until you can actually do it for yourself in real life. In this business, you gotta "walk the talk".

The reality is, many ski instructors are part time. No less dedicated, professional or effective, just limited in their skiing study time. "Real" jobs and shit like that. They can walk the talk to certain point, but their knowledge and experience base is restriced by their time for study and practice. Study = knowledge. Practice makes knowledge REAL.

In short, you have every right to make such a request, because as illustrated above, not all ski instructors are "created equal". To teach a skier of your caliber in the conditions you describe takes a very skilled instructor with a wide base of knowledge and experience. Sadly, many smaller ski schools may not be able to accomodate such a request, for various reasons. That's another discussion. You should be prepared for compromise if you're planning to visit the "little" guys. It's not that they don't wanna help ya out, they just might not have the budget for it.

The "big" players, though? Hey, they advertise quality and customer satisfaction. Take 'em up on it! The real successful service based companies out there recognize that a request like yours is not an inconvenience, but an opportunity to provide the service they advertise and then some.
post #4 of 16
RonZ- You should ask!!! The instructor will be happy you did and thank you! There is no better student to work with than one that knows what they want and is eager and willing to do what ever to learn! Yes you may need to spend some time on the groomed but don't let them keep you there. I see that to often that instructors move people off were they want to ski to practice and make it easier and we wonder why more people don't take leasons? (should be in the ihavethesecret post)Part of being succesful in bumps and crud is to be relaxed not stiff and in order to relax you need to be comfortable in your surrounds in order to get comfortable there you need to bring some skills to the terrain and then spend a lot of time PLAYING in it! I think you can find some pretty great instructors/coaches/mentors even at a small area but the bigger resorts will have more level 3 or above that can assist you. Good Luck!
post #5 of 16

I echo the other responses, except that ihavethesecret, may be over generalizing. There are lots of great instructors at smaller areas. Just because we are not willing to sell our souls to the "intra-wests" of the worls, does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean we are not very dedicated, experienced professionals. I worked at a major western resort for a while, and there are a lot of 1-2 year transients who live and teach out there without the dedication that a lot of people in the day areas have. I think it take a hell of a lot of dedication to work behind a desk (or whatever else) 5 days a week, and then make a commitment to work the other 2 days at a ski area that doesn't treat you very well. As a student and a customer, it's up to you to demand the highest quality of service. Tell the ski area, when you buy a lesson, that you want a minimum level of certification, and won't accept anything less. I've been teaching skiing for 18 years. The last 12 of those have been part time. Yeah, I don't have as much experience as someone who has been teaching for 18 years full time every year, but I do have as much experience than someone who has been teaching full time for 10-15 years, because I have just as much time to think about and study on the subject. I just don't have as much on-hill time.
post #6 of 16
Hi Ron -
Thanks a lot for thinking of this! A lot of ski instructors feel the way you do about computers - that their job is easier if you let them tell you what you need. So if by chance you end up with one of these instructors, at least you'll know where they're coming from...

On the other hand, lots of us feel that the customer/student (you) should get what he asks for - and that unless it's dangerous (and even then...) we should be able to provide it.

Nothing you asked for seems at all out of line or something that (as everyone above mentioned) a good instructor shouldn't be able to handle. Remember that most mountains have extremely easy bumps/crud as well as hard ones; it'll be up to you and your instructor to decide what to go for.

Also, most instructors really like students who WANT to vary the terrain they ski on instead of being coaxed onto different types of snow and trails. They'll be happy to have a student who understands the principle of learning on "easy" (for you)(groomed) trails and practicing or at least trying out what they learned on the other stuff.

~Michelle H.

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[This message has been edited by skiandsb (edited March 19, 2001).]</FONT>
post #7 of 16
I found that when I asked for more challenging terrain, the instructors jumped over each other to teach the lesson. A lot of them spend a lot of time with beginner group classes, so the chance to branch out and ski fun terrain is something that is akin to a reward to them.

Ask for the terrain you want, but be open to training on the groomers. Sometimes concepts can't be demonstrated as easily in powder, because you can't see the skis. Also, they might see a fundamental flaw that needs to be addressed before graduating to other terrain. Make sure you come away with exercises to practice and a direction to work towards.

If you're happy with the lesson, tip your instructor and write/e-mail the ski school with praise for the instructor. Sometimes that's all a teacher needs to stay in the game.
post #8 of 16
Hi, I would agree with DChan except (maybe) to consider trying to get an hour or two each day of the week with the same instructor. That way the inst. can help you focus on individual elements (steps) of growing. IMO every sport is about the basics; when you want to improve your game you go back to the basics and try to learn them better so the real job of the instructor is not to show you something new but to help you focus on improving or working through what is holding you back. This may be a combination of things, each requiring a 'day' of practice and review. Also I think highly of Bob's 20-60-20 rule. Remember, it's all about having fun!
post #9 of 16
what you ask is asked from me on a daily basis. It can be a valid request. But remember, learning mogul skiing is not a one lesson thing.

Definately make the request with the caveat, "I want to ski bumps, and I understand I may need to invest time working on the groomed".
This will ease the heart of the instructor. I always ask the lesson taker, "If we need to take some time on the groomed terrain working on technique, is that ok with you?"

Instructors want to give our clients what they want, we also want to give the client what they need.

For me to impart all of my knowledge of skiing, specifically skiing moguls to you in one lesson would be ineffective. Fundamentals of movements and basic tactics is what you should ask for from your first lesson, and perhaps your first few mogul lessons. An instructor's eye may be your next best product in a lesson. To have immediate and specific feedback is of utmost importance. That is why a series of lessons can be so effective. Perhaps a few hours every couple of days. Checkups, new info, instructor demonstations, new terrain and tactics, etc.

Of course this is info from an instructor. Some may think "promoting lessons, isn't that like an instructor". Perhaps. Although, I have found much success in repeatedly seeking QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL INSTRUCTION, and have found awesome success. Skiing, Golf, Running, etc. Not just a quickie tip or lesson, but a plan of taking a series of sessions.

This kind of dedication requires an investment of time and money. You have to determine what it is worth to you to possess the skills in which you desire. If you wish to get down moguls in some control the cost will be less that if you wish ski well down any mogul run.

Jonathan www.skipros.com

p.s. good info on this thread. Find an instructor that will help you along. Certified 3 or above is what you are looking for. Always ask the instructor, what are you working on in your skiing? Only take the instructor if he/she has an affirmative answer for you.
post #10 of 16
I know this is a bit off topic, but anyway,

Ron Z wrote:
"Given that the season is pretty much over in the Sierra's (and, thanks to a major fall when i decided to try to learn bumps just by doing, and failed miserably, this season is definitely over for me!), I figure I'll wait until next year, when we plan a week trip."

Now I don't know if you were seriously injured by your fall (sorry if you were!), but the season is FAR from over!! This is why the slopes start to empty out right around this time of year. A lot of the areas in Tahoe decide to close not because of lack of snow, but for lack of skiers. This is in some ways the best time of year to ski!! Yeah, this year's snow's been a bit low, but the base is still very good.

On the other hand, lift lines are getting more and more empty these days, which I don't mind

post #11 of 16
Here is another thought.Since you are waiting untill next season to Take this lession why not look into some early season ski camps or workshops? Many resorts offer dicounted multi day programs at the begining of the season.It's a great way to get back into skiing work on your skills and gain some new skills. You will have the Rest of the season to build on those skills.I have seen skiers jump a level or two in thier skiing after just one multi day work shop.

The Best skier in the world is the One with the biggest smile. Utah49
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
OK, I'll show my ignorance. What's the difference in levels for instructors? People keep saying that I should look for a "level 3" instructor. I'm not exactly sure what that means.

And I am completely open to getting corrected working on technique on the groomers. I can't quite imagine not doing so. Given that crud throws off my skiing, I can barely get down a challenging slope. Certainly, I can't get down it and really learn what I'm doing wrong at the same time.

I sorta like the idea of doing 4 straight days of one hour lessons. That's how I first learned to ski at Squaw, when I took morning lessons five days in a row. It makes sense to me.

Thanks for the advice. The end of season is mostly because of time, as I don't have a great deal of free time between now and the end of the season, but I can't wait for next year!
post #13 of 16
here are the descriptions of the levels.
Level 3 http://www.skipros.com/PsiaLevel3.htm

Level 2 http://www.skipros.com/PsiaLevel2.htm

Level 1 http://www.skipros.com/PsiaLevel1.htm

The PSIA system level 1 is the 1st level of Certification, level 3 is considered Fully Certified.


p.s. Perhaps the first day you consider a multi-hour, and then follow up sessions thereafter
post #14 of 16
Search the forum for skier levels. there are a lot of posts that will give you an idea where you are.
Here's one for example. http://www.epic-ski.com/ubb/Forum2/HTML/000525.html

Also if you get close (1 level off) when they evaluate you, they will make sure you get in the right level. Then before you leave the ski week, ask your instructors where to go next. (level, what to work on, ...)
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks, all. Can I ask a follow up question?

How do I know what level I am? As I mentioned, i'm smooth and feel like I'm skiing well on groomed blacks. Now I'm looking at next year, and Steamboat has a nice ski week for dkiiers lever 6, 7 and 8, but I don't know what I am. Other than the private I mentioned in Wigs' discussion, I haven't take a lesson in a few years, and I'm about a 10 day a year skiier. How do I place myself, or do I need to do that with a qualified instructor? THANKS!
post #16 of 16
here is another link to help you determine what level you are.

hope this helps,
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