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Ski Seminar w/Beginner skiers, and Station teaching

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I am creating a program for new skiers at my home area. We will be incorporating and indoor fitting and learning center, and on mountain station teaching. The effort is being conceived in order to reduce fear levels, accelerate learning, and increase skier retention.

I am interested in hearing of experiences of those that have participated in a program with one or all of these elements. Learners, instructors, or others that have comments or ideas are encouraged to participate in this thread.

post #2 of 17
Station teaching is interesting, I experimented with it in CO with our ski school during Spring Break. Results were mixed, the only real problems came from us not keeping tight enough organization upon it however. It may have been more successful had we given it a longer and more diligent try - but what made me cancel the experiment was the feeling I was getting from some students that is was very "impersonal". No chance to develop a relationship with an instructor, and somebody mentioned also that they felt like they were getting hearded like sheep from place to place! Also there were problems from a student ego standpoint to see other people "graduate" to another station while they still did not . . . of course when doing splits in a class this can be an unavoidable problem too. Sensitive and caring instructors can help with that ego issue in either station teaching or traditional splitting.

Really you should find somebody who taught/supervised at Crested Butte during their station teaching work. During they free ski period every year I know that at least for awhile they were using station teaching and finding it successful. I don't know if they still do it during 'free ski' now or not.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Todd Murchison (edited September 07, 2001).]</FONT>
post #3 of 17
Will the indoor fitting and learning center be just what they sound like? If this is attached to the rental center and includes help with fit and prep........ OUTSTANDING!

Regarding the stations, they are only used with the middle & high schoolers. These kids are not as ego driven and most can't wait to get the lesson over with. I have watched kids "sandbag" to be with their friends at a lower level while others will drive you nuts to move them up.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by yuki (edited August 05, 2001).]</FONT>
post #4 of 17

I have to agree with Todd; teaching stations are to impersonal. I would assume the "command" style of teaching would be utilized. It would seem to me that this would lead to dissatisfactions from the learners. I see no way to use the Carl Rogers techinque of "client-centered" teaching. This has technique has been developed by Dr. Kim Peterson as "Guest Centered Ski Instruction." Many say that this teaching technique is the wave of the future. I also see no way to involve the students in active participation in the lesson. By active participation, I don't mean performing tasks. What I am refering to is the students actively helping with the learning such as developing movement cues for the class.

In closing, I suggest that teaching stations are, in effect, an assembly line technique. Without the personal interaction that the class structure achieves, the teaching stations will drive skiers from our ski schools, not retain them.

RH<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Rick H (edited August 05, 2001).]</FONT>
post #5 of 17
I too, have experimented with station teaching. Rick and Todd's observations are astute, the teaching partnership and beneficial group dynamic is seldom achieved. Schools which gravitate toward station teaching do so in response to inadequate staffing and overwhelming droves of beginners who can only be accomodated as they arrive. This is exacerbated by no definitive start time due to the wait queing at the ticket offices and rental shop. To do a comprehensive station set up, you would have a well staffed, spacious rental facility to do like Yuki suggested.
If...and only if you have a set up like Bear Mtn. in SoCal or start as Yuki stated, indoors with fitting, indoctrination/orientation a la ASC learning centers does a modicom of success occur.
A hybrid, with "floaters" assuring nobody falls through the cracks helps. A ringmaster, controlling the pace and movement/instructor reassignment etc. helps too. You must find a way to motivate instructors as well, rotating them and spiffing them for effort, as they aren't getting per heads, upgrades or privates often. Assembly line teaching does not inspire that bonding and nurturing, nor satisfaction with the end product that we all get off on.
I believe with the right staff, physical plant including a functional, well staffed and effiecient ticketing and rental area, magic carpets and "smart terrain" it could be efficient, however, with all that in place...so would tradition command style. You basically need the same things to run either operation, so you gain little. Call Steve Fengler in Bear for his "hybrid station teaching" insights. I see you are at Breck, John Buhler should know Steve. good luck!<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Robin (edited August 05, 2001).]</FONT>
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your replies.

Here is what we have so far. (including my experience with station teaching).

I was at Bear Mtn the first year we incorporated station teaching with indoor video and the shuttle to the top of the beginner area. It worked well to get people to skiing. Most people had the basics (turn to go, and turn to stop) within 30-60 minutes. And the splits were very equal with regard to ability.

The downside to the Bear Mtn approach of the time. No equipment fitting stations, and a 1 1/2 or 2 hour lesson. The short length of lesson contributed to what those which have responded as a mediocre guest/instructor relationship.

A few things which we are designing into our system is:

1) Fitting and rental center. All new equipment and ski instructor taught boot and ski fitters.

2)Indoor orientation to instructors, equipment, lesson preview, and video presentation.

3)Chair lift ride without skis on. (Skis will be brought to the top via snowmobile).

4) "Smart terrain" learning stations. Within 40 yards to the on mountain lodge. Several instructors per station and facilitators to escort students between stations via skill building excercise i.e. side step, traverse with step, etc.

At the conclusion of the stations, the groups are created 5-8 students and an instructor is assigned to the group for the remainder of the day. Including lunch. 6 hours in total. This is designed to facilitate the instructor/student relationship.

All of the posters have assisted my thinking of creating a system that encourages a personalized and user friendly station teaching system. Perhaps it is an oxymoron, perhaps it is workable. I look forward to reading more ideas to create a personalized this system.

Additional benefits:
We have fewer and fewer instructors returning after the first year of teaching. Training these instructors to give an exceptional product becomes more and more difficult. As I remember my learning to give concise feedback to a learner, station teaching honed my ability to offer this feedback. Granted always giving this feedback to a learner in their prefered style of learning is somewhat problematic and needs to be addressed. I believe the station teaching may a very good way for mentor or supervisor to keep tuned into what is being taught and how to improve delivery of the material by the trainers.

Secondly, the desired effect of this seminar style introduction to skiing is to increase enjoyment, reduce fear, and increase retention of first time skiers. I am sure it is possible to incorporate a guest centered style of teaching. Perhaps it is by having a high trainer:guest ratio. Or perhaps it is to cycle the station trainers through the stations with the guests?? I am not sure yet. But your concerns have me thinking.

I look forward to continued dialog during this thread.
thank you,
<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Jonathan (edited August 05, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Jonathan (edited August 05, 2001).]</FONT>
post #7 of 17
Jonathan, it is wonderful to hear from you again!
Since I am closer to my "beginner days" than anyone else on this board, I may have a few insights.

First, I'm not sure of what you mean about an indoor learning and fitting center.
But lately, there has been a good deal of discussion about foot mechanics all throughout the boards on Epic. What seems to be a theme is that the beginning student is clueless about what the actual biomechanics of the foot are, and some pre boot foot awareness exercises may be a good thing. {I recently developed some for a ski fitness class. Let me know if you are interested.

As for station teaching, I'm also not sure of what that is. I do know that since I got into skiing to cure a slight fear of heights, being in a program where I was able to pace myself was really beneficial.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
thank you for your post. I am very interested in reading and perhaps incorporating some pre-boot foot movements and exercises.

Regarding your inquiry to station teaching. As you or any good instructor knows, you teach pieces of the total movement pattern in a progression that builds upon the previous movement. You wouldn't teach the full series of movements all at one time. An aerobics class reminds me of this progression style teaching. Anyway,
Utilizing station teaching methods you break each movement (piece of progression) into a station. The station will have special terrain and training aids to facilitate the learning of that movement or series of movements. Each station may have an trainer or several trainers to facilitate the learning of that movement(s).

At the end of the stations (4 or 5) the students will create a class (probably 5-8) and join their trainer/guide for the remainder of the day.

That is the basic jist of station teaching.


I have been playing and teaching golf for the summer. My SS Director called me to head this project for the upcoming year. Thanks for the warm return welcome.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Jonathan (edited August 05, 2001).]</FONT>
post #9 of 17
Okay this is interesting. I sort of like this station idea, because it appeals to something I've bben working on in fitness; Isolate then integrate. Here is a link for some of the ankle exercises. I have a few more, let me know if you need them. http://www.epic-ski.com/ubb/Forum2/HTML/001758.html

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #10 of 17
I like station teaching. It is perfect for introduction to the sport. It is true that the relationship between the individual instructor and student may not develop well, but with attention the guest gets to know the entire staff a little bit. It was with a first time free intro lesson on the grass(in the fall) and a second lesson on the snow. We created many lifetime skiers in the three seasons we did it. These are some things we did:

We had an ideal number for groups and every time that number was reached we sent them out. The next group never had long to wait, and the waiting station was staffed by an 'intro to the snow group' who could keep them learning.

People could stay at a station and go through with the next group again if they wanted.

Special attention was given to ways to use and remember people's names. We found this to be important in having the guests feel welcome and included at every step. The director simply didn't let anyone get away with not using names and had several techniques to learn the names or seem to.
Name rules:
a) Don't be afraid to ask someone their name.
b) Have people call out their names as they start a task, congratulate that person using their name on completion of said task.
c) As you remember names, call out guest names to give feedback, as they start tasks, etc. ask for the names you can't remember.
d) If the instructor can, introduce everyone to the next station by name, if not, the guests do it.

As staff members come across guests throughout the day they congratulate and check in with them and let them tell a little about their day. Then thank them for participating and invite them back. These little personal interactions go along way in including people and making them feel welcome.

Using names that much sounds daunting at first, but it works well and is an important part of teaching, station or not.

It sounds like you are onto a good thing. Having beginners shepherded at every step is a good thing. The equipment fitting indoor station and chair riding w/out skis sound particularly great.
post #11 of 17
We have fewer and fewer instructors returning after the first year of teaching. Training these instructors to give an exceptional product becomes more and more difficult.

Part of the reason for this may be that one of the fringe benefits of being an instructor is a season pass, which, because of the price wars in Colorado, is only $300 for Breck, Keystone, A-Basin, and 10 days at Vail. Instructing beginners is hard work, so when the glamour wears off, many decide its not worth saving the $300. Considering this, instructors are paid much less than they were before the price wars. The World's Greatest System still need good people to implement it.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
thank you for the responses so far.

We are a few steps closer to creating this program at Breckenridge. Funding has been approved, creating intro video is being mapped out.

Roto, thanks for insights and methods for improving this format. I am working on a effective way of keeping the student/instructor relationship on a cordial first name basis. I have a good idea with a master/apprentice system at each station. I will detail this in a later post.

As I have looked at this method of presenting info via station teaching. I have thought of several benefits of standard one instructor to one group method.

A) Student gets exposure to many members of the ski school. I can foresee students skiing on the mountain (with or without a class) and recognizing several members of the ski school. This facilitates more guest and ski school interaction. Good for guest experience, good for guest return visits.

B)As the class finishes the stations, he/she will form a group of 6-8 students of a closer ablility/skill level. This should lead to group with fewer ablility splits. Better for everyone.

C)Help the newer instructors improve their eye and communication skills. Have master instructors and trainers teaching alongside the newer instructors to give immediate feedback to the new instructors and students. This can go a long way in boosting the learning curve of both students and new instructors.

D)Create an arena whereas the supervisor can more easily monitor the ski school product being given.

E) Make it easy for instructors to identify students that need one-on-one assistance (special help) to improve skills to join a group. Have "master" instructors available for this one-on-one special help.

E) If presented correctly, with quality stations and instruction, this method should get more new skiers on the mountain and skiing in less time than traditional group methods.

I look forward to have further questions or comments so that it will allow me to work out potential bugs prior to implementation.

Concepts: Preview the learning segment; create a safe environment; manage fear through process and personnel; create stations that enable skiers and riders to make and acquire small steps to success. Build and foster relationships between the skiers and the ski school.

best regards,
post #13 of 17

It would be nice if they could show the intro video on the local cable channel. Most destination resorts have a few of the channels devoted to snow sports but only show the big air stuff.

Would you be "giving away" much with just the intro portion......???

Real neat..... would be to give students who are taking your sessions an access code to review the lessons over the network on a dedicated (funded by the merchants hopefully) channel.
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
very good idea with getting the intro section on RSN.
As for the access code for individual students over the network. The logistics of pulling this off are frightening. At Breckenridge we do 120,000+ lessons per year. It would probably have to be updated by the instructors. This alone leads to issues. However, it is a good idea, and I could recommend this to our private lesson instructors for this year. I could build this system into my Skipros.com website, were as any skipros.com or authorized instructor is able to do this for their clients.

Do you have any examples of this "access code" system in use?

Currently we the Breck ski school does have "tips of the week" for RSN, and it is aired regularly. Although, if we do this intro to skiing properly, it could add to the novice skier's experience.

thanks for the idea.

post #15 of 17

I am a techno dinosaur. That was just a pipe dream. But it would be a great tool..... when you come back to the condo or hotel room. Particularly in station teaching where you may miss something or perhaps a particular point was not made clear due to "instructor variability".

I guess it could be done like the pay-per-view movies that some places offer. Heck, you may be even to build it into the price of the lesson for under a buck.

This is where the creative mind is needed!
post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
pipe dream perhaps, but still possible. I was thinking more in the lines of an on-line lesson plan that can be accessed by the student.

Regarding instructor variablility, while station teaching cannot guarantee the variablity will be gone, hopefully the presence of the master teacher will diminish this variablily.
Also, after the student moves through the stations (30-45 min) they will get their instructor for the day. This should allow for clarification of inconsistancies.
The lessons will be 2.5 to 5 hours, lunch inclusive for full day. So as to further increase rapport and answers to questions.

best regards,
post #17 of 17
For an intro video, how about just giving them a video tape? No technical problems and most condos now have VCRs. You could make it part of the lesson package for them to keep.

I'll be interested to find out how this program progresses. For a school that runs as many lessons as yours it makes sense.

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