or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Ski School Fantasy

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
Okay! Let your immagination run wild. No holds barred. What would be the ULTIMATE ski school???
post #2 of 43
Geez, I dunno. Taos was pretty good.

Catered to the expert:
To me it's time. I'd want to spend at least a week skiing. Let's say it's two weeks (Hey, it's ideal. Should be the whole season . Actually, Taos has ski weeks, for example.

Next is terrain. Ya gotta have the terrain.
That's related to the mountain, not the school, but I would not go to a great school on a flat, groomed mountain.

Next is conditions. This of course, is dependent on nature, but the ski school has to be able to take you through weird snow. We just don't cut it with corduroy.

You have to have good feedback on your performance. At Jay, the head of ski instruction for instructors asked me a key question: "Hey, when did you learn to ski?"
That opened up the lesson for really good pointers. He knew what was happening.
Video, etc is not important, and your not going to run a video cam down KT-75 or Mott Canyon anyway.

Mountain Lore: Skiing is more fun when you learn about the environment, mountain, resort, etc. So the instructors should have some depth of knowledge. For example, at Taos they pointed out the new avalanche and the pile of sticks at the bottom (trees) .

And beer afterwards.
post #3 of 43
Taos was my best ski school experience. Back in the days of the Hondo Lodge.
post #4 of 43
ULTIMATE ski school:

1. Would require to pass a fitness test - trying to teach an overweight couch potato to ski is like trying to teach nuclear physics to someone who failed basic calculus.

2. Would require an intimate knowledge of Skiers Responsibility Code and other Dos and Donts before letting you on the slope

3. Would teach how to fall before they teach how to turn.

4. Would teach you what THEY think you need not what YOU think you need


VK

... I'll come up with more.....
post #5 of 43
1. I like all these comments about Taos. That was a magical school to work in when I was there and I'm thrilled to know that it still seems to be. I know those people love skiing and love that mountain.

2. I know that you really can't get anywhere in a lesson until you satisfy guests needs and wants--or at least show the intention to go there. But the idea of what they need being different than what the perceive they need is a compelling one. It is clear to me that if you really listen carefully you can do both at the same time--the gifted pros ultimately match their covert agenda to the student's overt agenda. Teaching is a two way street, a collaboration, when it works well--so the student gets what she wants and what she needs.

When I take a lesson, though, in any other sport, or in skiing, and the pro asks me what I want, my answer is ALWAYS, "I don't care. Give me your best shot. Whatever you think I need is what is foremost in your awareness, so I want THAT."

3. As far as fantasy schools are concerned, Lisamarie, my friend Jerry Berg from Vail (who used to work here in Aspen) once came up with the idea of The Mount Sopris Ski School, and it has lodged in my awareness. It arose from his very astute question to our trainers: "If you were to take 200 instructors from Aspen and open a new ski school on Mr. Sopris (our beautiful mountain in the middle of the Roaring Fork Valley), who would you take with you?" His intention was to get our trainers to identify our best, most wonderful pros. In the process our group develops a consensus of criteria. We still use this process for selecting our trainer "verifiers"--the trainers that train and select our other trainers. These verifiers are elected by the whole body of the trainers.--kind of like electing your own examiners. Jerry (Bergie) even took this concept further and developed a website: bergiesbest.com with the intention of trying to identify the top pros nationwide. I don't know how well it's doing but it is an intriguing idea.

The point of all this (finally!) is that the fantasy ski school--from my point of view, and from Bergie's--has only one criterion: that it contain the best pros available. In other words--it's the pros ALONE that make the difference. The job of the school is to attract and train them. The job of the less gifted or experienced pros (this is not a criticism, either) is to find the best pros and understudy them. Creating the enviroment for this, in my view, is the most important function of PSIA.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 05, 2002 05:27 AM: Message edited 1 time, by weems ]</font>
post #6 of 43
Thread Starter 
The issue of what people want and what they need is an interesting one that anyone who teaches anything will encounter.

Someone may come to me who wants to "get rid of" : their belly. But no matter how many crunches they do, or changes in the diet they make, if they have lousy posture, they are going to look the same.

Lets say someone wants to ski bumps. But if they are in the backseat, thats not going to happen. Teachers have to be a bit creative, and "sneak" in what students NEED, in order to give them what they WANT.

The ski school trainer idea is the best in promoting a cohesive staff. Many people, {I am one of them} are highly proficient in what they do, but do not want to go into management.

I find it interesting that the instrutors I've picked out as my favorites are, like myself, teacher trainers.

I like Bergie's better tahn the Ski mag surveys, because 2 of my faves are on that site!
[img]smile.gif[/img]
post #7 of 43
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>The point of all this (finally!) is that the fantasy ski school...has only one criterion: that it contain the best pros available. In other words--it's the pros ALONE that make the difference <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well said Weems! But I would add that this criterion, while essential and preeminent, is still not sufficient. The perfect ski school must also allow these perfect pros to do a perfect job. It must encourage them to continue to learn and grow, both personally and professionally.

The ski school's--and the resort's--philosophy must remain guest/student-centered. Financial constraints must stay in the background, invisible to the student. One telling example is how ski schools deal with small classes and "groups" of one--do they force them into larger, incompatible groups, or do they bite the bullet and divide them according to ability and interest?

Of course, any ski school that is able to retain only top-notch pros will presumably have met these other criteria. The pros themselves wouldn't stand for it otherwise!

The perfect ski school is an environment, a blend of the right people, the right physical resources, and the right culture.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 05, 2002 10:12 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Bob Barnes/Colorado ]</font>
post #8 of 43
week-long...video...gates...t-shirt( )...
post #9 of 43
You've described Keystone's Mahre Training Center, Ryan! Check it out!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #10 of 43
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Lisamarie:
Okay! Let your immagination run wild. No holds barred. What would be the ULTIMATE ski school???<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

All female ski-instructors with pert bottoms, uniform is either :-

a) Hot pants
b) mini-skirts
c) Thong

DB
post #11 of 43
Bob B,

I could not agree with you more. The environment for the instructor must be conducive allow that instructor to do his/her best. Financial constraints are the biggest problem for any ski school. Financial constraints sneak in everywhere from instructor retention, the number of Certified Pro’s, class size and class length. The student must be insulated from these factors.

There is nothing more frustrating than getting a group at line up and after the first warm up run realizing that a quarter of your class must go down a level or two. My fantasy would be to teach to the ability of the best skier in the class. Our director is pretty good about breaking down class size and realizes the value in not teaching down to the lowest common denominator. However, at our place it is the availability of instructors to break down the classes. This is my biggest pet peeve if I may use some vernacular. I refuse to let stronger skiers suffer.

Ed
post #12 of 43
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>4. Would teach you what THEY think you need not what YOU think you need.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Very interesting, VK. Could it be that we've overdone the "guest-centered" thing? "Give 'em what THEY want--not what YOU think they ought to have"--this is almost the mantra of ski school directors and industry managers these days.

Of course, the real goal of "Guest-Centered Teaching" is to positively identify what the students NEED in order to accomplish what they WANT. What they really need may well, as you suggest, be quite different from what they THINK they need!

As an instructor, the goals and motivations that students have expressed to me range from the very specific and concrete to "whatever you think I need." I hope that any instructor would recognize this request as a legitimate student motivation! If a student expresses the desire to have the instructor decide what he/she should work on, that instructor should realize that this request represents a genuine motivation that must be addressed. It IS what they want!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #13 of 43
DangerousBrian - I think you have a winner. Option 4 would be to put them in that Trachten clothes (I think that's what it's called).
post #14 of 43
Ultimate Ski School? Hmmm. Being in the position I'm in, I'm going to come at it from a Director's POV.

1. Ample funds for training the instructors to be the best instructors they can be.
2. Uniforms that don't look like we just got attacked by rampant, paint-gun toting, beret-wearing, Monet wanna-be's.
3. A FLAT (that's right... I said FLAT) ski school yard.
4. A "Magic Carpet" for the kiddies.
5. Instructors who actually like skiing... not just the fact that they ski well.
6. Ski school needs its own rental fleet and techs.
7. Big bouncer for the locker room so the Ski Patrol can't come in and snag our food when we have pot-lucks!
8. Name tags that don't disintegrate every time a stiff breeze hits us.
9. Better "pre-lesson" education about Responsibilty Code, Equipment, etc. (someone already mentioned that)
10. Fair prices.

Wow. Most of that is stuff I'm working on for next year! Plus there's about a billion other things. I may have to do the bouncer job myself, though. Sounds kinda good, huh?

N. Spag - Director, Bouncer, All-Around-BMF.

I think I'll have a Plaque made for my desk that says just that.

Anyway, I figure if I can get a few of these things we can be a lot closer to being the "ultimate ski school" than we were last year!! We came in like 11th place at the "Ultimate Ski School Grammies" last year and we're hoping to improve on that mark... (Fools! It's just a matter of time and my competitor's failure will be complete! MMMWWAAAHAAHAHAHAHAHA!!)

...as I wring my hands and twist my moustaches, hatching new and insidious plans to create THE ULTIMATE SKI SCHOOL (action music)!!!!

Spag :
post #15 of 43
1. Have the advanced levels meet at a spot halfway down an advanced run, so that there is no need for a separate chair ride to determine if everyone belongs.
2. "Skillz" clinics, such as Bumpz, Powderz, Carvez, BigAirz, Steinz etc.
3. Give a lift ticket discount when a lesson is purchased at the same time.
post #16 of 43
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by weems:
2. When I take a lesson, though, in any other sport, or in skiing, and the pro asks me what I want, my answer is ALWAYS, "I don't care. Give me your best shot. Whatever you think I need is what is foremost in your awareness, so I want THAT."

33. In other words--it's the pros ALONE that make the difference. The job of the school is to attract and train them. The job of the less gifted or experienced pros (this is not a criticism, either) is to find the best pros and understudy them. Creating the enviroment for this, in my view, is the most important function of PSIA.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well stated, weems. To me, it's the pro
who will look at what I do and come up with a plan to deal with it in a fun way. One of the common traits of all the instructors I have had (Wildcat, Jay, Wachusett, Taos, Okemo, Sierra-at-Tahoe) is that they all *loved* skiing and loved to teach. I've gotten a lot out of those lessons.

A note on finding the level of the student: At Taos, they just watched everyone ski. As we skied down, we were assigned to a group. This was fabulous, because everyone in the group was on the same wavelength and the instructor knew that. So we just rocked and rolled. I guess they have to be politically correct. When I was funnelled to an expert group, the instructors explained to my friends, "uh, you just ski different."
But it works out really well.
One instructor at Wachusett refrained from using the phrase, "The correct way to ski..." and caught himself by saying, "There is no correct way to ski." Then I thought, "But we all want to ski like you!" It is the professionalism.
post #17 of 43
Thread Starter 
Welcome, Charlie, great posts! I'm flattered that your first 2 posts are in my thread! [img]smile.gif[/img] Sounds like you used to live on the east coast?

Miles, at Sunday River, you have to go up to the North Peak lodge to take a level 4 class. There's a small steep {relatively, for amyone under level 4} thing that you have to go down to get to the lodge.

I don't know why ski schools are afraid that ski offs will embarrass people. Its much worse to find out you are in the wrong level once you started class.

absolutely agree about discount lift tickets with lessons!
post #18 of 43
I've come back to teaching skiing last year after a 10 year hiatus, and ideally? Well, all your students would be coordinated, speak English, and like to tip. The staff would offer training when YOU want it, not when THEY have to have it, and all male instructors would be required to wear stretch pants. I know, they're SERIOUSLY outdated, but not a bad idea.... That is purely in response to Dangerous Brian's highly sexist remark about what we women should wear, so that's my take on it!
post #19 of 43
What did he say that was sexist?
post #20 of 43
We had a female instructor who worked at our resort last year from the Czech Republic. She came to work on day one in the tightest stretch pants that I have ever obscened....I mean seamed....I mean seen.

We have a no stretch pants rule.

She got to wear the pants every day.

She stayed booked from dawn to dusk.
post #21 of 43
epic, just go to Tirol (Austria) or South Tirol (Italy), then.
Every woman there dresses in Trachten...
But not the instructors!
post #22 of 43
The tone of this thread--going from professional to prurient--indicates an interesting understanding about ski instructors that I totally agree with.

We're so dang SEXY!
post #23 of 43
Thread Starter 
Partially my fault, due to the wording of the topic. I wasn't trying to suggest that everyone come up with their own version of Aspen Extreme!

But in a sense, Weems, you are correct, since ski instructors can free you from your inhibitions! :
post #24 of 43
No. No. LM.

It's because ski instructors have co-ed locker rooms!
post #25 of 43
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by weems:
it's the pros ALONE that make the difference. The job of the school is to attract and train them. The job of the less gifted or experienced pros is to find the best pros and understudy them. Creating the environment for this, in my view, is the most important function of PSIA.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Excellent. Pros that actually have the heart to succeed. Not complainers with cold feet.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado:
The perfect ski school must also allow these perfect pros to do a perfect job. It must encourage them to continue to learn and grow both personally and professionally. The perfect ski school is an environment, a blend of the right people, the right physical resources, and the right culture.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Excellent.. and the right dedication

More …..

Pros with International experience. i.e. SS should be an international experience for all.

The correct terrain for beginners

Fun packed ski offs on the correct terrain.

Uniforms that attract attention worn by pros with ski skills that retain attention.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]

Now posting from sunny Sydney.
post #26 of 43
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by VailSkiGal:
.... That is purely in response to Dangerous Brian's highly sexist remark about what we women should wear, so that's my take on it!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

VailSkiGirl,

Let me clarify, I have a particularly good eye for muscular imbalance and movement. Mini skirts, strecth pants , thongs etc enable me to see the symmetry in leg muscles along with muscle movements more clearly. I'm sure you understand that large saggy bottoms just get in the way of the analysis process.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by VailSkiGal:
.... and all male instructors would be required to wear stretch pants. I know, they're SERIOUSLY outdated, but not a bad idea....<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

That's it girl, get analysing

DB
post #27 of 43
Ok, Lisamarie, I plead guilty, and will try to redeeem myself.
I'd dream of ski school that will take care of my kids from 1000 to 1600, with 1200 to 1400 being lunch and play time, and the other
effective school time.
These schools exist, but as far as I know, only in Austria.
As for myself, no particular wishes, a motivated instructor is all I ask for, plus action, action and more action.
Sorry VSG but I disagree with "students who speak English"
Since the customer (student) is the one who pays, the language aspect should be reversed, instructors able to speak other languages than English.
I am convinced that Lisamarie bad experience in Bormio derived also from not adequate English/communication skills of her instructor (in other words, the instructor may have been reasoning like :
"if they want to learn skiing from me, they'd better speak Italian!", yet again, he may have been just shy).
This is not to say that instructors should go well out of their way to accomodate their student's wishes, but to show a little bit of flexibility. One does that that, and is rewarded in kind (of course it works both ways).
As an example, I used to work as a remote support person, Europe-wide, in an high stress environment. Every time I was getting called by colleagues under strain, I was trying to say just few word in their language, I observed that this was imediately alleviating the strain, as their minds were temporarily relieved of one more aggravating thought ("OMG, I have to talk English to my supports, will they understand me, will I understand them?")
As far as SS,I'm speaking from the consumer side of the story.
post #28 of 43
Most countries, other than the US, "National" ski schools require a top level instructor to speak at least one other language. PSIA should think about this. USSCA has an "International Coach" certification but does not require a second language. How can someone call themselves "international" if they don't speak more than one language?(prefferably one from an "Alpine" country. I hope that major US resorts would at least consider it when hiring.
I do not have the skill of a second language but would be inclined to try if it were some type of requirement.(I keep promising myself to learn but don't seem to"prioritize" it)
BTW, Matteo how was Austria?

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 07, 2002 10:18 AM: Message edited 1 time, by SLATZ ]</font>
post #29 of 43
Sunny, the snow was wonderful, and relatively
un-crowded!
Three wonderful days!
post #30 of 43
Thread Starter 
The ideal ski school would pay their pros enough money so that students would not be expected to tip.

This was a weird concept to me in the beginning. Tipping was for waitresses and housekeeping at the hotel. As a different sort of educator, I never get, or expect tips.

Of course, when I found out how pathetically paid ski pros were, I changed my opinion, but then there was the dilemna: If a ski weekend was already amazingly expensive, the lodging, food, lift tickets,pet sitting, lessons, the lesson had to become the thing I would give up, if the lesson plus a tip for the instructor would blow my budget for the week or weekend.

As far as the language thing goes, Matteo, even though I was in an entirely English speaking class, I did try to communicate with my instructor in Italian. It did not help.

Yes, its extremely challenging to teach people who are not proficient in English, it can be done.

For some odd reason, Asians who speak very little English tell me that my step class is the only one they "understand".
Go figure!

But on the topic of communication, the one thing that concerns me is the protection of the instructors voice. I once took a lesson with Todd when his voice sounded like the Bill Hickey character in Prizzi's Honor!

There have been many communication bloopers! once, an instructor was saying that something should feel 'as if' you could lift one ski. Since I could'nt hear her, I thought that she wanted us to ski a whole segment of the trail on one ski.

Well, when I finally caught up with everyone 20 minutes later........

I heard about one ski school that gives the instructor some sort of mic, and each student has their own individual head phone..Hmmmm!

BTW, vocal nodes are not to be taken lightly!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching