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The Mountain or the Mentor

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Someone mentioned in another thread that certain outdoor playgrounds are better teaching environments than others.

But I have had some of my best lessons at the most meager mountains under the worst conditions, and some pretty bad lessons at whta some would call mountain paradises.

Often, these less than perfect mountains are what we call home, and it takes a savy instructor to teach us to how to ski them enjoyably. Some, but not all instructors, may have the tendency to rest on the lauraels of the perfect environment, and fail to develop the subtleties and nuances of excellent instructional technique.
post #2 of 11

I am not advocating a small or large resort. What I am advocating is good teaching. It can happen anywhere, as can bad teaching. The standard answer from the SSD, when asked who is the best teacher, "All of my instructors are the best there are." How is the public to chose? Until we have an up-to-date ranking system, taking a lesson is going to be a gamble. Probably the best way to choose an instructor, is to ask some very technical teaching questions, like "what do you know about the three major domains of teaching or learning?" This should not be a mystery, as the answers are in the PSIA Core Concepts, by Maggie Loring. If you get asatisfactory answer, you probably have a good teacher, no matter what the cert level.

Lisa, I hope this helps.

[ September 09, 2002, 04:20 PM: Message edited by: Rick H ]
post #3 of 11
Originally posted by Lisamarie:

Often, these less than perfect mountains are what we call home, and it takes a savy instructor to teach us to how to ski them enjoyably. Some, but not all instructors, may have the tendency to rest on the lauraels of the perfect environment, and fail to develop the subtleties and nuances of excellent instructional technique.
Lisamarie –

You are very insightful and should consider becoming a wonderful ski instructor. Remember there is plenty of room for good teachers of all levels of skiing. Those who teach learn!

Environment for ski instruction has little if anything to do with the mountain and weather, assuming we can keep the student comfortable, but it has everything to do with setting the stage for your success as a student. Setting the stage is composed of many elements starting with our introduction, exploration of our common needs and goals, and of course the comfort zone - which we may or may not ask you to move out of - and the final parting of friends. As an instructor if we set a good environment our student will never notice our mountain is kind of small and non-threatening or vice versa.

Have a GREAT day!


[ September 09, 2002, 07:43 PM: Message edited by: John Cole ]
post #4 of 11
I'm with LM

I've had a GREAT lesson & fabulous day skiing - when the whole resort was on windhold except the beginners teaching area - a small bowl. Also when the terrain was full of rocks & grass. The mark of great teaching skill in those instructors.

I've also had the lesson from hell on a sunny blue sky day witn great cover & a fresh layer of snow on top!

I stay with those instructors that have the skills to deal with all the problems & still get a solution - sometimes I provide the problems - sometimes the terrain or weather does.
I don't expect them to control everything - simply being prepared to discuss & work towards a solution is enough.

I do feel we should be able to at least see a quick summary written by the instructor on what they think are their teaching specialties etc. (Like on the Aspen site). It may help if nothing else is available. (I would go by the writing 'style' I think more than what is written - but at least it is some insight)
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Disski, it was you that made me think of this awhile ago, when you were talking about some of the awesome techniques your Aussie instructors use.
post #6 of 11
Yeah - I do very well here have mostly had excellent instructors - some just Ok & one BAD experience(poor match for me - done by Austrian supervisor NOT ski school desk)
post #7 of 11

You seem to be implying that an instructor at an area with perfect grooming and terrain might not need to be as diligent or even proficient as someone with more variable conditions. That's an interesting question and one I hadn't ever given much thought to.

If the conditions make for excellent "hero" skiing, can any mediocre instructor make me (as a student) feel like a hero? I suspect there might be some truth to that. If you get to ski on smoothly-groomed packed powder all the time, you're never required to develop the skills you'll need when the going gets rough.

There's a legal saying (which I'm probably going to butcher) that goes something along the lines of "bad cases make good laws". The idea being that laws should be crafted to be able to handle the toughest cases. The skiing corollary should be "bad conditions make good skiers".

So in answer to your "mountain or mentor" question, I'll say both. The mentor is by the far the most important element, but don't take the mountain out of the equation. I think it's very important to ski at places that *do* have junky conditions available. So much of being a good skier involves the ability to handle changing and variable conditions. If your mentor doesn't take you there or your mountain doesn't have it available, I think your development as a skier will suffer.

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
John, thanks, but I need to get past my "gaper" status first!
Just to clarify, in no way am I implying that a teacher at a more desirable mountain will not be as good as someone from a more "terrain challenged" mountain.

I do think that people sometimes assume that they will alwayas get the best instruction at the most popular resorts. I have not found this to be true all the time.
post #9 of 11
Originally posted by Lisamarie:
[QB]John, thanks, but I need to get past my "gaper" status first!
Yes you do but I am trying to get you to BELIEVE you can. If you can dream you can do! I hear and see your dreams now it is your turn to believe!


[ September 12, 2002, 05:16 AM: Message edited by: John Cole ]
post #10 of 11
Actually, LM , I was the one who made the comment. To be more specific, there are things that the most gifted instructor has no control over and has to to deal with every day. At my area , we have what I would call a "pathetic" beginner area. The genuises who run our resort have us meet the guests in a plaza, then march them to a waiting area where they get to take a bus to the beginner area. Imagine the thrill they experience, getting to go on a bus ride before their first lesson!! Then, we get to march around a flat area in ill fitting equipment and push around the flats before going on the chairlift, our only lift. After waitng in line for 45 minutes we're off! Few can unload without falling down and in some cases getting injured. Then we get to try and make "wedge turns" down a too steep and too narrow slope that is usually littered with fallen bodies. Not to mention that most of these people are from a much lower altitude, in poor physical condition and become exhausted quite easily.( How does a "gifted coach " mentor a lady who's lying in the snow puking? ) It's not easy to keep people happy in these circumstances and it's not suprising that they will probably take a cruise next winter instead. Skiing ain't for sissies, and instructors are a dime a dozen. But management has figured out that people don't really come here to ski, anyway. What they really are looking for is a "vacation investment" and there's gonna be plenty of condos for 'em pretty quick . Head 'em up, Move 'em out!( or should I have said , Move 'em in? ) [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

[ September 11, 2002, 09:11 PM: Message edited by: snowdancer ]
post #11 of 11
Geez, SnowDancer. It sounds like a sort of purgatory. I thought Colorado was the state of the art. More like the state of the con.

It is nice to work at a community-owned not-for-profit ski area in Montana. There's something to be said for locally owned and operated with plenty of beds 15 miles down the road.

Anyway, to the subject: the mountain is my mentor, sometimes preceded with a tor-.
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