Originally Posted by oboe
It also happens that many people who have no working connection with ski area management, ski school management, or ski instruction have risen to the bait and have, in many instances, posted uninformed answers that solve no problem and have little or no basis in fact.
Interesting perspective. What you call "people who have no working connection with ski area management, ski school management, or ski instruction" I call customers. And there are an awful lot of customers on this thread who are saying that ski schools aren't offering a decent product (and here is a clue--this has nothing to do with the actual quality of the lesson or the calibre of the instructor). I'm not sure how the rest of the country faired, but Vail Resorts ski school business dropped 50% this year (which was well out of line with the decrease in overall skier visits). I think there is a pretty strong message there, but for some reason nobody seems willing to hear it.
Here is another clue. Skiing isn't a sport that can be learned in a day. Skiers who want to progress to a high level don't need ski instructors, they need coaches, continuity and access to the best technical information available. Most traditional ski schools simply aren't interested in providing that. They simply want to charge you an exhorbitant amount of money for a day's lesson and send you on your way. It's as if they don't think they have a vested interest in helping skiers become better (and therefore enjoy the sport more). It could certainly be argued that most skiers don't care about lessons, but that is just a weak excuse for lack of product and lack of marketing. If skiers don't care about lessons, ski schools need to figure out how to make them care!
Ever wonder why the best skiers on the hill come from race or freestyle programs? It isn't that they have better coaches than everyone else. It's that they *have* coaches. Consistent coaching over the course of seasons. Ironically, the only people who actually get regular coaching in traditional ski schools are the instructors--many of whom got into instructing in order to become better skiers--knowing full well that trying to obtain the same level of coaching as a ski school student would be virtually impossible. It is fairly common knowledge that if you missed the race boat as a kid, becoming a ski instructor is the next best thing.
Offer me a product where I can get the coaching I need to become the skier I want to be at a reasonable price and I'll stop complaining about ski schools. Show me a ski school that has a vision for the kind of skier I can be and can clearly articulate how they can partner with me to take me there and I'll sign up.
Epic Ski Academy at least gets this. They offer multi-day camps at reasonable prices and provide "coaches" rather than "instructors." They've even set up this forum to try to keep students and coaches engaged between academy sessions; i.e. to provide real longer term, continuous coaching. It isn't perfect, but it is considerably better than standard ski school fare and it is unquestionably a step in the right direction. Hopefully they can keep it going and keep improving it.
There are other programs out there as well that do offer a real product and are compelling. Some of us are figuring that out and are voting with our dollars. Meanwhile, I think most of us "uninformed" customers are going to continue to avoid traditional ski schools in droves until they start offering products that we value instead of just taking our money.Edited by geoffda - 6/27/2009 at 12:45 am GMTEdited by geoffda - 6/27/2009 at 12:48 am GMT