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Consecutive or alternate days for lessons best?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Friends, I am going to be at Vail next month for six ski days. I want to take some lessons. While I am a strong East coast skier, I have never been out west and figure it may be a bit different than the conditions I am used to in Maine. So learning how to do pow is high on the list. But I also want to work on fundamentals and then put it them to the test. And I also want to push my comfort zone on terrain that is not available to me in Maine and that I would probably not attempt at Vail on my own. And doing this under the eye of an instructer makes sense to me.
Privates are not an option. So it would either be some half day groups or the three day, all day program, which seems very attractive even though you are not guaranteed the same instructer. So to you instructers, what is the more effective learning strategy - an intensive three day with three free after that, or staggered, half day lessons throughout the week? And if anyone has experience with the three day Vail program, do share. Much obliged,
David
post #2 of 16
If you luck into powder I'd strongly suggest half day lessons with time to play and practice. It can be a ski your legs off experience. You may never want to go back to Maine
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by blueriverwillow View Post
If you luck into powder I'd strongly suggest half day lessons with time to play and practice. It can be a ski your legs off experience. You may never want to go back to Maine
Ya' mean after getting a snootfull of pow I might say to myself, "David, you're not in Kansas anymore." Sorry, could not resist.
post #4 of 16
D1,

Only you can decide what will be more effective for you. It does not make sense to sign up for a all day 3 day class if you're going to show up late and then poop out and quit at 2 each day (ok I exaggerate a bit for theatrical effect). Some people really benefit from having continuous instruction. Other people benefit more by having more practice time. Sometimes what you're working on can make a difference (difficult to change items require more instruction, other items may just need mileage). If you don't know, then the ideal solution is to take a regular lesson first and ask your coach for his opinion on the 3 day program. After observing your performance in a lesson, your coach should be able to give you good advice.

PSIA instructors have a multitude of multi day clinic options available. I've attended many 5 day clinics. It's much easier to make lasting changes to your skiing in a multi day clinic, but sometimes all you need to move to the next level is a 5 minute tip.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
therusty, very sensible advice. I also have an alterior motive for the multi-day program. I have never been to Vail and assume that you could spend a week there (or more) looking for the best or most appropriate terrain and conditions - what we coastal Mainer's call "local knowledge." I assume that an instructer would have this at hand and bring us along.
post #6 of 16
Well - yes and no. Group members can sometimes limit an instructors terrain choice options. Depending on the crowds and the snow conditions, finding decent terrain at Vail can be sometimes be as simple as throwing a dart at the broad side of a barn. It's a good idea, but it's not always the best idea.
post #7 of 16
If it were me and the only consideration was improving my skiing, I would do the immersion clinic because I would assume I would be a stronger skier sooner. Opening up more terrain options to me during the last three days. That being said I would also say there is usually more involved than just improving my skiing. Things to consider...
1) Who else is coming with you?
a1) If you're on vacation with family and friends, splitting up the day might make more sense since you will spend at least part of the day with them. After all if it's a family vacation dissappearing for three day might not play well with your spouse.
a2) If you're coming alone, then working with the instructor will give you the opportunity to make a new friend and share that experience with someone who knows where to ski and which lifts get crowded first. In Vail, that knowledge alone can make a big difference in your overall skiing experience.
.
As far as how much you will learn and retain, I feel practice is important but only if you are practicing correctly. If you are making changes, those changes should be a little awkward at first and coaching you through that development phase is very important. Exactly how long that process takes is hard to say without knowing more about your athletic background and how fast you've picked up new skiing moves in the past.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
justanother...thanks for yours. I will be traveling with my wife who is a capable but timid skier. I have been gently moving the conversation in the direction of lessons for her as well. I see this trip as a great opportuntiy to get some first rate instruction. She is more laid back about it. I am thinking that we would ski one or two days together to get the feel for it, take the three day, and then have a day or two at the end. Or just leave it to the muse....
post #9 of 16
I think I'd do the 3-day right away who is going to know that mountain better than your instructor. I think you could waste a lot of time on lifts to nowhere if you don't know how to get around the mountain.
post #10 of 16
Another thing to bear in mind is they have "meet the mountain" things at Vail. Totally free and you get a tour of the mountain with a local guide (no instruction.) I've done these and they're great.
post #11 of 16
David,

The 3-Day at the Vail resorts has always been the no-brainer choice for me and my wife. We do it in large part because we don't travel with folks that we can ski with and we are at different levels so we want to ski different things.

At the level you are describing (and frankly at most upper end levels with a good instructor) the instructor is going to gve you plenty of time for play and practice. To be effective, the whole day should not be about introducing new concepts. The instructors at your level should realize that mileage and structured practice are important. So, I wouldn't worry about not getting to enjoy a powder day.

Note that Vail's half days are only in the afternoon. So, the idea of taking a lesson and then practicing on your own may not work as well. I know that it would not work as well for me.

My wife and I have done the 3-day a number of times. We almost always end up with the same instructor for two of the three days, if not all three days. From a long-term perspective, I generally prefer picking a coach and sticking with him or her. That is not what you are doing in this program. You are walking in and getting an instructor you did not select. So, for some people just walking into a random lesson and not having selected the instructor in advance, having the mix of two instructors can be helpful. Sometimes you will click better with one than the other, or one will say or do something that makes what the other said make all that much more sense.

I have never had an instructor actually look at what is on the ticket I hand over to them. I know of others that have brroken the 3 days into 2 days, skipped a day, and then done the third day. These folks have either just done it, or claimed fatigue and been told it wasn't a problem. Last year, at Beaver Creek my wife took a day off from lessons because she wanted to spend the day with my then eight-month old son. She asked the supervisor up front, and he said it wasn't a problem.

The questions that JASP asked are the right questions to me. Were I you, I would absolutely consider what makes sense for you AND your wife. If you can get your wife to do it, as well, that would be great. My wife looks at it, in part, like a social experience. We also still make time to ski together. My wife and I get on the chair at 8:30 and then ski for the hour until we meet the lesson. After the lesson, depending on when in February you come, and whether some of the lifts are spinning until four, you and your wife can ski together again for a couple of runs.

I also recommend doing the lessons toward the beginning of your trip. One, you will get to the know the resort better. Two, you will get the instruction up front so that you will have the benefit of that for the rest of your trip. Three, if your wife is only uncertain about the idea, she won't be dreading the thought of doing it for several days.

From a simple dollars and cents perspective, I also recommend the three-day. The cost of the three full days is still less than three half days, and much less than three separate full days. So, even if you do two full days and beg off early on the third day, it still makes economic sense.

Note that Vail changes their multi-day ticket prices depending on when you are coming in the season. If you are coming at the end of February, I think you can save money by buying the three-day with lift tickets and then buying a second three-day lift ticket, as opposed to buying the three day lesson and the six day lift ticket.

Good luck.

Smiles
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Smiles, am grateful for your kind reply especially since you have on the snow experience with the program. One of my concerns is not having enough time to ski with my wife, and, quite honestly, just making sure that she is enjoying herself. The before/after time that you and your wife had is a great idea. And if it is possible to break up the three days, that might help as well. Doing it at the beginning of the trip was my inclination to get right into it. If my wife is going to be a bit trepidacious, it probably would be best to get her on the hill in the lessons on day one rather than fret about it.
And you are quite right about the very favorable cost. With tickets, the three all day program is $455, vs $130 for the lesson and $97 for the ticket if purchased individually. Basically, you are getting your lift ticket for less than $20pd.
Wonder if you could share your experience with the way the lessons tend to go - number of people, intensity, approach, etc. One thing I am not sure about is the level I should go into. I can ski most anything in Maine - so long as it has boiler-plate and exposed stumps. But may struggle in ideal conditions. How weird is that....
Thanks again. David
post #13 of 16
David,

It sounds like you might be a level eight. (But that is just a guess, I would want to know way more information before I really weighed in on that, and they will do a quick ski off to mke sure you fit with the group, so I would not worry about it before you get there.) In eight days over the last two years, I have never seen more than four in a level eight lesson, though I am sure that there are days with more. Level nine has normally had one to two, with one day of three. That said, mid-Vail apparently had several days this week with somewhere around four at level nine, but they skied hard and apparently had a good time. My wife who has been progressing from level four to six over six days the past two years has never had more than five and normally four, with a couple of occassions with three. I know others have not been as lucky with group sizes.

I hope that helps. And, I really encourage you and your wife to do it. If you can work it out, splitting the days up is great. And, if you are by any chance going to be there over Washington's birthday weekend (aka President's weekend), you absolutely must do lessons. It is the busiest weekend of the year, and waiting in lift lines is a given and no fun. The ski school cut line is the way to go.

Smiles
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Smiles, you just clinched it. We are there over that week. I had forgotten about the line preference classes get. Again, appreciate your time. Was very helpful.
David
post #15 of 16
It takes discipline to stick to a three day lesson plan when you go on a trip to a locale like Vail. At least it would for me. You start looking around at all the terrain and fun stuff and start getting the itch to explore on your own. I suppose this is where the instructor needs to keep things interesting.

I save the lessons for home. If I am going to pay that kind of money to fly, ski and stay at Vail, I am going to be concentrating on having fun and exploring, not taking all-day lessons. Thats not to say taking lessons cant be fun, but not on a trip -- at least for me.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MojoMan View Post
It takes discipline to stick to a three day lesson plan when you go on a trip to a locale like Vail. At least it would for me. You start looking around at all the terrain and fun stuff and start getting the itch to explore on your own. I suppose this is where the instructor needs to keep things interesting.

I save the lessons for home. If I am going to pay that kind of money to fly, ski and stay at Vail, I am going to be concentrating on having fun and exploring, not taking all-day lessons. Thats not to say taking lessons cant be fun, but not on a trip -- at least for me.
Mojo, fair points. One of my reasons for heading out to a big mountain is for the lessons. I have a rather insatiable urge to improve my skiing every year. Did the three day Ski Esprit program at Whistler and it was a great time. And when it ws done, I knew where on the mountain I wanted to be. Thanks.
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