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Ski School Directors, trainers, supervisors question

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Hypothetical situation:

At line up for adult level 1 (never evers), a young lady shows up with skis that are little wider than cross country skis and with virtually no discernable shape. They are old alpine skis, and the bindings clearly have not been indemnifiable for eons. The bindings even look ratty. The other three students appear with modern shaped skis from the resort rental shop.

The instructor has been successfully going direct to parallel with first-timers, not teaching the wedge as a turning technique. It seems obvious that the old straight skis with the superannuated bindings are not likely to lead to success with this method, and the safety of the bindings is questionable at best.

Should the instructor

1) include the student in the lesson the same as the others,
2) include the student but teach her something different from those with modern shaped skis,
3) tell the student that she should consider postponing the lesson and getting shaped skis from the resort rental shop?
4) If the instructor is genuinely concerned about the safety of the bindings, should the instructor share that with the student?
5) Any other ideas or suggestions?
post #2 of 29
On two occasions I have had students removed from a class when the defects to the equipment were apparent. Both cases involved "garage junk" that was twenty years old. One pair of bindings (and skis) had severe rust and a loose toe, the other had no brakes. In both cases I called the line supervisor to support my decision and explained to the student that apart from his personal safety, others may be harmed and I didn't want the liability.

Sorry .... I'm not a supervisor but I thought it fit .... [img]redface.gif[/img]
post #3 of 29
I supervise a couple days a week and do our training at Eldora. I realize you have an eye towards potential liability due to your vocation/academic background.

In Boulder, the situation you describe happens with some degree of frequency.

I guess my first thought is how do we know whether ANY bindings are adjusted and/or appropriately set?

We are not a DTP school. We try to have our folks teach "good movements" as opposed to particular turn "types"

I would also suggest that other than length, straight skis are just as easy to teach a DTP scheme as a shaped ski.

I try to make a point when I'm teaching to always mention the skier responsibility code and ask customers whether their bindings are in good working order and adjusted properly. In reality I'm sure most folks don't have a clue.

As I'm typing a thought comes to mind. I have my heel "cranked up" a little higher than called for by the chart. In the event I was a student what responsibility would an instructor have to point out the difference between the chart and the choice I have made?

What if the student is broke, simply wants to ski on straight skis, and/or has no idea that there is a difference?

I'd leave it alone and teach the lesson that you have succeeded with in the past.
post #4 of 29
I'd be a bit concerned that equipment would make that big a difference to a lesson at that level. if a very young kid is struggling with skis that are too long for it, I get them changed, but with adult beginners I'm not sure that the skis make that massive a difference. Then again, I'm not teaching "direct to parallel", as I still think that the wedge correctly taught will lead them to parallel quite quickly. If Direct to Parallel depends on people having correct shaped skis, then yeah, I guess it'd be a problem!
post #5 of 29
If the "antique" equipment appears safe, I'd go the separate instruction routine. In fact, I've done that several times just this season. When shapes first appeared, we had mixed classes all the time. All our rentals now are shaped skis, but newbies often show up with stuff they borrowed from an uncle or something like that. I always suggest they'll be better off on the newer gear if they care to go rent some, but I'll work with them if they don't want to do that, as long as the gear looks OK and I can make the bindings function (twist the toe pieces and pop the heels). The persistent keepers of old stuff routinely do much more poorly than the rest of the class.
post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Rusty Guy:

I guess my first thought is how do we know whether ANY bindings are adjusted and/or appropriately set?
What if the bindings are not only superannuated but also quite visibly in poor condition?
post #7 of 29
At our area Learn-to-ski, LTS, normally comes with equipment. The marginal cost of our package is only a couple of bucks over just buying a lesson.

Also, we have a 4-lesson "Passort" program where they get two 2-hr lessons the first day with equipment. After the 4th lesson, on the third day they get a season pass for the rest of the year.

Point is, we practically give the equipment away. We also have a "make the guest right" program and instructors carry cards and can comp someone for equipment. I had this happen earlier this season when a woman with old rear entry boots which literally came apart on her foot. I was able to comp her skis, boots and poles.

Making the guest have the right experience is the right way to go. Encourage your mountain to adopt such a plan.

But, to answer your question in the absence of such a program you would need to make a judgement as to whether the equipment was safe or not. If you don't think it's safe then get a supervisor and explain the situation and get the lesson money refunded.

In some intermediate classes this is a routine problem. It's tough teaching three students on shape skis and one on 200 Elans from 1991. But, hey, that's why we get the big bucks!

Bob
post #8 of 29
In AspenSnowmass, we charge the same price whether they bring their own gear or not. We have so few who bring their own gear, and our rental gear from our shops is so good, that it is easy to change this stuff out for great gear.

And yes, a short, shaped ski in a direct parallel program that also includes teaching the wedge as a tool, shortens the learning time to get to blue terrain by sometimes as much as three days.

If we did not have such a good system, and the bindings appeared dangerous, I would not take the responsibiiity. If the bindings appeared old, but all right, I would remind the person about the fact that this is "at your own risk", and your bindings may be a hindrance. I would do that out of earshot of the other people in the class. I would then teach the student the older way, while teaching the new ones the new way. Each can learn from the other.
post #9 of 29
Actually, we all gather around and point and laugh and ridicule until they go running from the area in tears. How dare they show up with substandard gear. And if you thiknk that's bad, you should see what we do when they show up in poorly coordinated outfits!
post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by weems:
Actually, we all gather around and point and laugh and ridicule until they go running from the area in tears. How dare they show up with substandard gear. And if you thiknk that's bad, you should see what we do when they show up in poorly coordinated outfits!
This is by far my all-time favorite "epic" response EVER! Big Props dooood!
post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by ant:
I'd be a bit concerned that equipment would make that big a difference to a lesson at that level. if a very young kid is struggling with skis that are too long for it, I get them changed, but with adult beginners I'm not sure that the skis make that massive a difference. Then again, I'm not teaching "direct to parallel", as I still think that the wedge correctly taught will lead them to parallel quite quickly. If Direct to Parallel depends on people having correct shaped skis, then yeah, I guess it'd be a problem!
You don't need to be teaching with a direct to parallel methodology to take advantage of shorter shaped skis. And not all wedge turns are created equal, as Ant seems to imply, nor is just any old equipment OK for adult beginners. For that matter, neither is it OK for kids. There seems to be a suggestion that we don't need to take beginners seriously, but maybe that's a subject for another thread.

As we've gone to all shaped skis in our rental fleet, our wedge-based teaching has evolved. New instructors who have never taught a gliding wedge on a flat ski or the sliding out of the tails are getting their students (who don't know any other way) to tip their skis and involve their inside knee in turns that are bringing the skis from a wedge position to a parallel relationship at, and sometimes before, the fall line. Going from a wedge turn "directly" to a parallel turn with no need for a "wedge christy" is very natural on shaped skis. It doesn't work on straight skis. If it did, we would have been doing it in 1978.

As for Oboe's original question regarding obsolete equipment, remember that a professional instructor, certified or otherwise, is considered an expert regarding proper equipment as well as proper technique. He/she would be negligent in not mentioning a problem with obsolete equipment. If a ski shop is within its legal rights to respectfully refuse to work on or adjust bindings that are no longer "indemnifiable", then certainly a ski school should have the right to refuse to teach a student on those bindings.
post #12 of 29
Regardless of the type of turn, or teaching system being employed, there is certainly an issue which must be dealt with discretely.

If the equipment is obviously a potential risk to the student, then it is the instr's responsibility to educate the student. I agree with Weems- stand around and laugh at them... (Not really) Pull them aside, and explain why you believe the equipment to be a hazard. But please be gentle- they may not understand the nuances of ski gear, and might be upset if you are too harsh.

I would hope/imagine that a good supervisor/manager would support your view, and assist you and the student in resolving the situation.

After all, this is a great opportunity to make another long term skier. If we ignore everyone who comes to us with out-dated equipment, we'd be turning away a significant amount of business. Why not make a very small sacrifice for such a huge potential return?

:
post #13 of 29
In fact, at the beginning of the shape ski deal, when we did not have the price structure we have now, we used to take them into our rental shop and give them skis for free that day, so we would gain them as a long term customer.

Then we'd beat them up just because we didn't like them that much. Good cop, bad cop.
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by David7:
not all wedge turns are created equal, as Ant seems to imply
How do you figure that Ant is implying all wedge turns are created equal when she says, "wedge correctly taught"?
post #15 of 29
1. If on visual inspection the equipment is obviously unsafe to the skier or others on the hill I'd tell the individual that they can't use it. If it's a judgement call where I couldn't tell for sure that the equipment was unsafe, I'd might suggest to the student that they have a better chance on success on rentals.

2. When several students in a class show up with different types of equipment (happens all the time), I adjust the teaching activities to benefit all students in the group including multiple progressions / stepping stones in the lesson.
post #16 of 29
Back in the early '80s I was assigned a children's group that included a child with a brand-new pair of plastic K-Mart skis with plastic straps for bindings, intended for use with snow boots, which she also wore.

I turned to my supervisor with a pleading look and he came to my rescue, explaining to the child's parents that her equipment would have to be replaced with rentals to remain in the class.

The parents were unwilling to rent skis and boots and we declined their business.

There was a second when I thought my supe was going to ignore my pleading look, but sometimes "the look" (AKA the Schwiegermutter) commands the appropriate response!
post #17 of 29
I think in this day and age with liability issues being what they are the answer here is an easy one. Couple this with the instructor's desires to provide quality instruction, then it's really a "no brainer".

I'll compare this to our baseball camps. Many kids show up with their own protective equipment, such as batting helmets and catchers gear. If the equipment doesn't meet our standards, they either use our equipment or they don't participate. It's that simple.
post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by David7:
If a ski shop is within its legal rights to respectfully refuse to work on or adjust bindings that are no longer "indemnifiable", then certainly a ski school should have the right to refuse to teach a student on those bindings.
Well said, thank you. Perhaps the ski school has a DUTY to refuse to teach a student on those bindings. What do you think about that?
post #19 of 29
Usually my supervisor catches this kind of thing before I have to even deal with it. What we do at our mountain is simply send them (have someone even escort them so the service is fast) to the rental shop and give them a complementary pair of rentals for the day. This goes for all levels of lessons, not just beginner.

By the same token.... several years ago I had a private with a woman whose boyfriend bought her a bunch of equipment at a ski swap (the gear was in OK condition). He of course was a "good" skier who knew what she needed. She was struggling so much with skis that were way too long for her, she was having a miserable time. Shortly into the lesson, I took her to the rental shop and got her fitted with shorter skis. We had a ball skiing together after that.

Sometimes I wonder what happened to the relationship with her boyfriend after that??? [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

Back to the original point though is that it's not just the instructors liability, it's the mountain's as well.
post #20 of 29
Foxy, sly barrister that you are Oboe .. , I don't find it odd that you have been leading us down this road. Right into the clutches of "duty of care" as dictated by tort actions, fore-seeable harm to fore-seeable persons and all that stuff.

As an instructor, I do not feel bound to memorize the list of bindings that are "current" nor, under the cover of clothing, can I detect all of the gear defects. Clearly, that would be the duty of a shop tech.

When the defect is apparent, say a man of 160 pounds shows up for a level one class on old 220 DH skis .... any lawyer worth his salt may make make hamburger out of an instructor who ignored such an apparent "defect". Even the difference of who made the error would factor. The standard for you as a lawyer and instructor may bind you to a higher standard. For Nolo or Weems, the bar may be higher than for Yuki and Oboe.

It is not the "industry standard of care" .... this may even be cited as the PSIA manuals here ... for us to check the DIN of all students who show up for a lesson.
post #21 of 29
Thread Starter 
If it is clear and obvious that the bindings are that old, and any of us would know that they're not indemnifiable ("list", my big fat behind), then we also would know that no reputable shop has torqued them and that there is a very good chance that they are unsafe. Do we have a duty at least to warn? If you were the person to be held responsible for making the decision, would you even allow the person to ski on those? Would you take that risk if your own bank account depended upon the outcome?

Is the guest the sine qua non of the entire industry whose pleasure and safety we say, over and over and over, are paramount? Is this just so much pap, or is it really, really true? If it is true, what affect upon our decision (regarding the bindings) should it have? Do we really, really want to retain first timers as repeat guests?

These questions are not intended to be merely rhetorical, but I wouldn't deny that they're leading. If you feel that these leading questions and the answers they suggest ought to be challenged, go for it.
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by weems:
Actually, we all gather around and point and laugh and ridicule until they go running from the area in tears. How dare they show up with substandard gear. And if you thiknk that's bad, you should see what we do when they show up in poorly coordinated outfits!
bwaaaaah hah hah hah hah hah!!!! [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img] [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #23 of 29
Oboe: I was not trying to be a pain in the horses ... but now that door has been opened and since the area where I work has never sent someone back for better gear on the house, I'm trying to figure out just what does constitute a reasonable standard of care. Just based on "old", I would turn away at least one person per weekend.

If the big resorts "comp" guests to better rental gear does that establish a standard? It probably doesn't and there is always the question of those big disclaimer signs and the warnings on the back of the tickets, additionally some states have limiting statutes.

In some of the recent discussions instructors have been refered to as "contract" workers or some such terms to avoid wage and hour disputes. It has been indicated that we are not employees in the conventional sense. Does that mean that we may assume more personal liability aside from the corporation?
post #24 of 29
Thread Starter 
Yes, it does.
post #25 of 29
oboe,

I once heard an old judge tell a young attorney to never ask a question he doesn't know the answer to.

I heard our own Bob Barnes say the other day to never teach something to someone unless you know they can do it.

Forget about liability and focus on ethics. If you don't think the bindings are safe say so.
post #26 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Rusty Guy:
Forget about liability and focus on ethics. If you don't think the bindings are safe say so.
YES! That's really the point, isn't it?

The judge was partially right . . . but there are other uses for leading questions besides getting the answers. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #27 of 29
Comp 'em!
post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by Robin:
Comp 'em!
and after they have spent thirty minutes in a line in the rental shop get em caught up!
post #29 of 29
I always suggest to people with gear I don't like the look of that better stuff would make their lives easier. Shorter skis are my usual shortcut. And encouraging people out of rear entries if they have painful feet, the boots are too big, or they suffer from a persistent backstance. I'm not too troubled by conventional skis. I explain the difference between skis in the class, so they understand why it would benefit them to get some.
If someone is walking out of their bindings, it's obvious their Din is wrong. Beyond that, I don't think we have a policeman role.
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