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Becoming better skiers - Page 2

post #31 of 71
You have a good idea, MarkXS, about the multi-day skiing experience. However, few ski school customers are looking for that type of lesson approach.

My area runs several weekend clinics each season at which groups of ten skiers spend two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon for two days. We include some video movement analysis for them each day.

As an instructor, it's a big (and, for me, welcome) change from the rushed hour lesson that takes 10 minutes to organize at the beginning and five to get back to the meeting place. But in the dozen or so such clinics I've worked the last four seasons, nearly half of each group drops out before the end of the second day to ski with buddies or significant others or to just work on something they picked up in the clinic that really hit home for them. The latter want to practice before they reach overload on new or different information.

This isn't just my groups, but those of every clinic leader except the ones running gates. They don't do any timed stuff until the ends of each day. I tried using the video as a temptation to stay, but it's surprising how many students really don't want to see themselves.
post #32 of 71

>>But in the dozen or so such clinics I've worked the last four seasons, nearly half of each group drops out before the end of the second day to ski with buddies or significant others or to just work on something they picked up in the clinic that really hit home for them. The latter want to practice before they reach overload on new or different information.<<

I find this an interesting and telling statement. Who's fault is it that the students leave? I would state that it's the instructor's fault. I know a lot of instructors that still try, in a one hour lesson, to tell a student *everything* that is lacking or "incorrect" in their skiing, and completely overloading the student with too much info and not enough practice to learn *anything*. This is what we have to fix so that students do come back. There are lots of ways to run a multi day lesson that will keep the students interested, or even a one hour lesson. Ut's up to us, as instructors, to keep them interested. They way they will also be able to learn, and will want to come back for more.

PS. I got the Slippery Slope CD. THANKS!!
post #33 of 71
Okay, arrogant, full of herself fitness instructor speaking:

What I have noticed, is that people do not stay the entire time because they do not have the endurance. I don't mean to be a tattletale, but many say that they want to ski with friends, then I see them later, and they tell me they have been hanging out in the lodge.

How did you guys like the CD?

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #34 of 71

of course you're right. No one is going to become an expert skier on 25 days a year. (I think, though - correct me - that an Expert skier might be able to keep his/her skills at a high level on so short a season.)
My point, though, is that a skier with limited days will have to invest a higher percentage of ski time to lessons, in order to achieve progress. And, as I thought I intimated, even lessons all the time, in such a limited number of ski days, will not guarantee Expert status; so, my rhetorical question was, Will that skier chuck the allegiance to tangible progress and settle for the cruising? I think, often enough, yes.
post #35 of 71
JohnH: Students dropping out early from these two-day weekend clinics reflects more on the students than the leaders, I'd guess. I've been a PSIA central division clinic leader in the past, conducting two-day sessions that lasted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and having to end because the lifts closed instead of interest waning. I think Lisamarie may have something in the endurance factor.

LM: I enjoyed listening to Spaulding Gray's Slippery Slope. Kind of a cross between Woody Allen and George Carlin. Thanks.
post #36 of 71
How about a package. Lift ticket, ski instruction with no more than 5 students with one instructor, lunch consisting of decent and healthy food, psot lunch, a little more ski instruction, some free skiing with the instructor, and an apres ski drink to review the day. Say $80-125 would that cover it?

Kids programs 10:00am-4:00pm what do they cost now $35-60/day ? Maybe the cost wouldn't be such an issue, if the value and ski experience was there.
post #37 of 71
I agree that some students don't have the stamina. I've had people drop out of a 90 minute level 1 lesson after 30 minutes because they are too tired (lazy??) to continue. All I'm saying is to run the lesson for the students. If they are burning out, slow it down. Whatever it takes. I ski with a d-team member from 8:30 to 4 for a week straight, every December. It's usually the first skiing I do for the season. So I know what it's like to be skied into the ground. But don't we need to be able to understand our students well enough to know if we are pushing them too hard?

I haven't had a chance to listen to the CD yet. I'll let you know.
post #38 of 71
Ott, sorry if i misunderstand about lessons being "in order." But with only a couple exceptions, I am always skiing with people who are better (elegant, easy, etc.) skiers. And I could ski everyday for the next 20 years, with lessons all over the place, and still easily find myself with groups of people who are better skiers.
I just can't take that many lessons. But of course I see - and echo - your point that there will always be things to learn. <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by ryan (edited July 16, 2001).]</FONT>
post #39 of 71
Hello all,

I'm back from a humbling, though inspiring experience. I may have pics soon.

I was very interested in orkhan's post. I think it spells things out quite clearly. I don't think lessons are necessarily going to decline though.

This is something I have been doing on the slopes at my home. I am trying to develop it into our training program and as a paid duty as well.

I take 'floater' runs on the beginner-intermediate and beginner terrain. I look for people needing help. I watch for a minute, then introduce myself and offer my assistance. If they say "no" I leave, unless someone actually seems to be in danger, in which case I will summon a patrol.

More often than not people gladly accept. I help them for a minute or two, usually less than five minutes. Sometimes it is just how to get skis on, sometimes a teaching segment or two, or just mountain info. I then give them a card, or tell them my name again and where to find me.

This is all done gratis. People are immensely appreciative of it. It fits in with the idea of improving the guest experience. They get something, no matter how small, for free. It is the spirit of skiing/riding in action.

I think it is important to point out that the type of involvement I am talking about goes way beyond 'host duties' and requires knowledge many hosts do not posess.

As I get better at this I am finding ways to approach more advanced snowriders on the slopes without seeming like an uppity a**h**e.

There will always be people who can do it without lessons. People who WANT to do it without them. And people who simply don't realize the benefits. I see this as a unobtrusive way to introduce people to the benefits so they consider taking lessons as an option. If they do not, I have still enhanced their mountain experience.
post #40 of 71
This may sound a bit simplistic but may help with the problem of dropouts during a lesson. One is most people new to skiing are ill prepared for the altitude. Why not give each student a bottle of water and insist that they drink it. (On dive boats this had become a standard practice due to DCS, dehydration increases your risk.) Also suggest they bring some snack or sports bars too.

Another is that some/most? are not dressed right. As we all know the weather can change in an instant. That clear sunny day can turn cold and wet in mins. Why not tuck in a hat or warm packets for the ill prepared. Now I know that we should be responsible for ourselves, but remember they are new to the sport and anything that can help with comfort may help the experience.

Wink I think your idea is great!
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[This message has been edited by Kima (edited July 16, 2001).]</FONT>
post #41 of 71
Roto -

I like your idea of floating around the hill giving the occasional ad hoc pointer / lesson / equip help / etc. I occasionally do the same thing myself, and my 8 y.o. daughter has even picked up on this.

There have been several times where she has offered help to kids and even adults, but one incident that stands out in my mind happened this spring. She and I were passing through Snowshed (a beginner slope at Killington) on our way back to the car, when my little 52 lb self appointed expert spots this middle aged woman (about 200+ lbs, short, and just about perfectly spherical) on a 'board, on the opposite side of the trail, struggling like an overturned bug to get to her feet. Before I can say a word, my daughter sails over to her, and from a distance, I see her drop to her knees and demonstrate a bunch of different ways to get back to your feet when boarding.

I'm stopped on the other side of the run, thinking how arrogant my daughter must seem to this woman, trying to figure out how I can salvage the situation, when my daughter waves for me to come over. I figured the woman probably wanted to give me a few choice words on appropriate behavior, but instead, she thanked me profusely, had some questions about where the trail to her condo was, and wanted to know if my daughter wanted to meet her kids who were patiently waiting for their mom near the bottom.

I guess the bottom line is that one should never be hesitant to offer help even in the most unlikely circumstances. The worst you will ever get is a "...get out of here - I don't need your f$%% help", but this will be more than made up by the many more individuals that appreciate the offer.

post #42 of 71
I took my first lessons last year. I will take them from the same instructor this year.

For me , the lesson had better be good since it involves me heading out from Milwaukee to the West, Tahoe last year. A work buddy and I hired a pro for two days in mid December.

All the technical stuff was there, but I also got to see parts of Sugar Bowl that I wouldn't have ventured to without a pro. Our guide asked what we wanted to do and we told him we wanted to ski better. Teach us what you can to make us better skiers. He listened and responded well.

After some technical stuff on the groomers, he took us to some of the double black diamond stuff. It was as challenging terrain as anything I've skied and we continued to work on technique. We also got a number of all-mountain skiing tips on how to read a mountain, the best way to climb up and collect your skis after a wipeout, what is the best way to wipe out and gain control, how to get around and over small hazards, etc.

In two days, you can only absorb so much technical stuff, but you can get a good roadmap for the coming year. But focusing on the terrain stuff really made the two days worth it.

We will definitely hire the same guy for two days early next season and, if the stars line up, we will go South America next summer with our guy and some others students and instructors.

One other comment. I've always skied with good skiers who have never had lessons. And they were proud that they hadn't. But after skiing with this instructor, the difference between good and expert has been blown wide open for me. As Ott nicely outlined in his post, watching a guy do amazing things on skis with not a small touch of grace would inspire any skier. But this instructor was quite clear that he feels he can still be a better skier.


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[This message has been edited by rob (edited July 16, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by rob (edited July 16, 2001).]</FONT>
post #43 of 71
Thread Starter 
The great ideas keep coming- I like the concept of 'floating' -I do this quite often and get request privates occasionally. Of course, I recommend they take some kind of lesson , even if it's not a private. And if they sign up for a group, I don't make any commission. But I would like to give some kind of a discount coupon to potential students? It's interesting to me that ski areas pay most employees to stand around if there are no customers, but instructors only get paid when they are teaching. They could at least give us the opportunity to make "sales calls " on the hill if we had something to offer besides expensive privates. Here again, cost is probably the biggest reason people don't take more lessons.
post #44 of 71
"Please come join one of our ski instructors and learn these and
other great skiing skills. At the same time you are learning how to ski the mountain, you
will go places you normally wouldn't go alone."

keep it simple
this is on signs @ alta. in every place you can stop to eat
post #45 of 71

How long have you been at Alta?
post #46 of 71
There have been a lot of great ideas and observations presented here. I would like to add several modest thoughts.

I think that a big reason many first time skiers do not continue with instruction or the sport at all has to do with the FEET. Rental boots do not come with custom footbeds, are not blown out, ground or otherwise adjusted (much less alignment issues addresed).

All too often the skier's feet are either in excruciating pain or swiimming in oversized boots with packed out liners. A kinestetic chain that begins with the feet is difficult to grasp when the feet are either totally numb or squished to a pulp.

For some it's easier to call it a day than deal with the discomfort. Others will continue to ski but with frequent stops to unbuckle or (less obtrusivly) to shift their weight from foot to foot to momentarily ease the painful pressure of the most recently affected foot(something like dancing on coals). These coping mechanisms are easier to execute without an instructer and class members looking on.

For those who continue with the sport the kinestetic chain all to often begins at the shoulders and torso only later involving the hips and knees and maybe finally one day the feet (That is how it has been with me). Can you think of any other mainstream sport where simply donning equipment regularly causes so much discomfort and downright pain?

That fore/aft balance could be acheived with the feet was an epiphany for me. It occured after I had custom footbeds made, my ski boots blown out and years later later Themoflex liners moulded. I have also had the soles of my last two pairs of boots canted.

Many instructers do a great job but they are too often working with skiers with ill fitting equipment that hampers both the students learning, enjoyment and efforts to improve. Skiers who own their own boots are too often also skiing with ill suited or ill fitting gear even though it may be the most expensive with the most bells and whistles.

With Rossingnol and Raichle coming out this upcoming season with composite plastic/leather/cloth boots maybe the fit issues will become easier to address. Dabello's self-canting boots also seem to be a step in the right direction.

Skiing is a very equipment dependent sport. The desire to begin, stick with it and improve by taking lessons is in many ways gear dependent. In this sense it really does begin with the feet.

Finally I would add that ski instruction competes with ski gear in many skiers budgets. Many pairs of skis later I have finally realized that my skiing will only get better with lessons. Fewer "latest and greatest" pairs of skis would have brought quite a number of lessons and clinics. And I would have been the better skier for it.

Just some thoughts.

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[This message has been edited by Lostboy (edited July 16, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Lostboy (edited July 17, 2001).]</FONT>
post #47 of 71
I have "been" @ alta since 1984.
I have never been employed there.
The only thing I have ever taught there was high speed cartwheeling for levels 6-8.
post #48 of 71
good thoughts.

Here's an idea that should be looked into.
I know demo/guided skiing is offered at some locations. Maybe some of the chain's and sporting goods stores should link up with the ski schools and offer discounted or vouchers to ski schools when people purchase new equipment. Promoted like "Get the most out of your new equipment (super shaped skis, footbeds, highend boots...). Take a lesson!"

and maybe even with demo skis 30 minute "quick tips" with a pro.
post #49 of 71
Have you ever taken lessons at Alta?
ever have the pleasure of skiing with Scott Mathers? He's a fun instructor. (I think director of training)
post #50 of 71
Cartwheeling well is a valuable skill!
So you know Jim Jack.
post #51 of 71
"the screaming starfish"
post #52 of 71
The same Jim Jack who keeps kneeing himself in the face? (which is why I'm scared of triing to stick a 30'er, knee to face to hospital)

Do they teach you how to avoid the knee to face in ski school? Hey Roto, I recall you saying you competed in some of the free dancing, I mean skiing, events. How many of the competitors were ex-racers, ex-bumbers or self taught hacks? Any comments on the quality of the "free skiers" skiing?
post #53 of 71
>>Any comments on the quality of the "free skiers" skiing?<<

So far the ones that win consistantly are all excellent technical skiers . . . and they all grew up with a race background. Make of it what you will.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Todd Murchison (edited July 18, 2001).]</FONT>
post #54 of 71
cold water.

Jim wears a full-face now.

No I haven't competed, that must've been someone else. Todd has. If it was in relation to my post about trying out 180cm monsters in 'the arena', that was merely in reference to Big Mountain type terrain which is now a design niche(and feels very arena-like when standing on the edge getting ready to go).
I do pay attention to the scene and have been trying to work up the cojones, time and training regimen to do it. I have gone around to some comps and watched. Some days I think "hell yeah I could do that", but then there are the days when guys drop 80 feet Onto dust-on-crust and stick it. Craaaazy, man. Some days I feel like a left-behind-old-man who should go plug back into his I.V.

Todd has a point about the race-background types. There is no denying the solidness and number of the ex-racers(McConkey, Nobis, Schmidt and many more). They know how to compete and are in better shape than a lot of the other guys.

There are a lot of self-taught-hacks that rule out there. Jeff Holden might have a racing background, but doesn't look like it. Hugo Harrison? I've never seen that guy ski. What is Gordy Peifer's background? I think the makeups of the fields are changing as Free-Skiing has become a viable competetive route and is full of heroes for todays up-and comers.
I know a guy named Robbie who is a 'self-taught hack,' but when I ski around with the guy and see the **it he does my jaw drops. He has caused my understanding of what good skiing is to change somewhat. Technically he is not very 'good looking' but he nails most things, whether it be a steep technical face, big air, chutes or whatever. He skis very fast in very nasty terrain and looks smooth doing it..sometimes with wacky arms etc. He's a lot more fun to ski with than most instructors or racers! Around these parts he places higher than the racer types.
post #55 of 71

No, they don't teach you how to avoid that.(sometimes they try) I learned it myself the hard way with a coumpound fracture of the jaw, both upper-condyles broken, and permanent stainless in my face...I think Jim had it worse though..
post #56 of 71
A few years back I thought "hell ya, I could do that, if I quit work and skied full time" but anymore they are way beyond anywhere I ever wanted to be.

Sorry to but in on your question to Mr. Davis, but the I thought the face story was an interesting sideline. I don't know him though. He's been pointed out to me a few times but thats about it. The person who was telling me about him said he's done that more than once.

I've seen a few black eyes and swollen cheeks but never had the pleasure. Bloodied my lip mith my pole once. I don't go big enough to do the damage he did.

I was curious about the freeskiers background. I've been following it for a few years now and always wondered if any of them got that good without having a race or bump background.

It must have been Todd who said he competed, all you instructors look alike ;} on the screen.
post #57 of 71
We all look alike in stretch pants too!

Jim is pretty much self taught, I believe. He went to a ski teaching/coaching college program here in WA, but it wasn't really much for coaching. A way to get on the snow full-time. He's always been an air hog. There are a number of guys out there who just go for it and do well. Interesting question.

Look into smaller, local comps. They are springing up all around and can be pretty cheap to enter. Decent schwag at some. Generally speaking you don't have to go huge to win. Challenging, good-looking lines done consistently usually do well.
post #58 of 71
D. Chan,
Thanks for the nice response. However, as I was meandering through some of the past posts in this forum I soon realized that my observations were hardly original. Nevertheless I am happy to see that the ski boot industry is finally trying to respond.

In addition to Raichle and Rosssingnol I just read in a ski magazine that Salomon is coming out with a hard/soft composite boot also this season (I buy ski magazines during the season and save the articles for summer reading).<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Lostboy (edited July 23, 2001).]</FONT>
post #59 of 71
Roto, from a woman's point of view, you do NOT all look alike in stretch pants!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #60 of 71
I was aware of a lot of the thoughts not being "original" but you put them together well and in an organized fashion so the rest of us don't have to sift though all the background noise.

Again good job.
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