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% of Skiers Taking Lessons?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Anybody have an estimate of what percent of people actually take lessons?

If the majority of skiers don't take lessons, why not?

Is it:

a.) expense

b.) time

c.) too stubborn/arrogant to take advice/instruction

d.) too good to need lessons

e.) something else

I've never taken a lesson due to time/cost constraints.

Everything I have learned was from watching other people ski & reading books & articles(& some epic posts).

I just bought a midweek season pass for next year, so one of my goals is to double my days on the slopes & finally take some lessons.

Can anybody recommend a good instructor at Hunter Mountain?
post #2 of 22
I don't know, however, someone will have the stats. I would guess it is around 1%!

I don't think there is any single answer. There is a thread going on here concerning golf. I doubt the percentage of golfers taking lessons is much different.

I spent four years in college playing golf and played "mini tour" golf subsequent to that. In my thirties I played a full slate of amateur tournaments. I saw a "teacher" at least once a week in order to seek continuous improvement.

I was lucky enough to pass my level III cert this year. I'm headed on Monday to "train" all day with a small group of instructors who have exams coming up. We are going to be coached by an examiner. I asked a friend who just passed his level II to join us and his exact words were........"I'm done for now".

I don't get it. I love to train and love to work towards a goal whether it's breaking 90 on a golf course, improving my short game on a golf course, or skiing bumps better. I hope I'm never "done".

Back to your question. I have an additional theory. I think all instructors "suffer" every time a lousy lesson is taught. We see it every day. It's not just at "our own resorts". I have been to a great many resorts this winter and I see the "bad stuff" being taught/demoed elsewhere.

Why does Coke outsell RC Cola?

Geez.....I sound like SCSA

Bless his heart I miss the guy
post #3 of 22
The national average annually fluctuates at approximately 10% penetration. I have experienced as high as 17% in a season. Calculations however are split between actual "faces" or clients and "lessons taught". Prior to scanning and database capture, season pass volumes where based on fudge-factor percentages wherein skier day counts where less accurate.
Over half a million "individuals/faces" are estimated to take at least one lesson per season in the U.S. Of that, the predominant number are First-Timers of which the NSAA estimates in excess of 85% never convert to core participants.
The prevailing strategy or "Growth Model" has been promoted by the NSAA and conversion is the mantra. It is the key issue at this years convention in San Diego.
I was one of 13 Snowsports Directors invited to an NSAA "think tank" with RRC consultants at the request of NSAA to discuss strategies to overcome flat growth and retain more First-Timers. The "issues" and objections seemed to focus on cost, class size, convenience/hassle and alternatives. Also, the big discussion was "integration". We tend to segregate First Timers from a sense of belonging to the tribe. We do this with facilities, information, terrain and enviornment. It is a pain to become one of the core.
Responses to the situation seem to be 3-pack-learn-to-get-a-pass programs patterned largely from Bogus Basins "Passport" program. It is rightly believed that when ski schools can get folks "over the hump" in three days...they are more likely to stick.
Stats are not in yet, but the trend seems to be greater retention...but at a price in yield and second season sticker shock. The big growth is in kids lessons across the country...which is just another baby boom phenomenon.
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Rusty Guy:
I don't know, however, someone will have the stats. I would guess it is around 1%!

Back to your question. I have an additional theory. I think all instructors "suffer" every time a lousy lesson is taught. We see it every day. It's not just at "our own resorts". I have been to a great many resorts this winter and I see the "bad stuff" being taught/demoed elsewhere.

Geez.....I sound like SCSA

Bless his heart I miss the guy
A few reasons why I don't take many lessons (in relative order of importance) -

- I have too much fun "just" skiing. Lessons, while beneficial, just aren't as much fun and there is always a compromise in what one wants to do or work on in a group lesson. True, the skills I learn will eventually make skiing even more fun, but that morning when I am deciding whether to take a right to the lesson line up or a left to the lift -- the lifts usually win!

- Quality. Just hit or miss. In the early levels, every lesson was a breakthrough and I felt like I really accomplished something every time. Now the breakthroughs take more work, and a lesson may or may not "click" in a way that is helpful to me. Or the instructor is just plain bad, unmotivated, or whatever.

- Cost. I feel bad as I read how poorly the instructors are paid, but add on lessons to lift tickets, transportation, housing, etc and it really adds up (and is the first to go). I would actually be more willing to pay the price if I knew more was going to the instructor him(her)self. Would even take a lesson "under the table" if I could arrange it without getting the instructor in trouble.

Whatever happened to SCSA anyway?
post #5 of 22
Of course time and money always are factors, but I have another guess: Perceived effectiveness.

When a skier perceives that he/she will become able to do something exciting that he/she can't do now, then a lesson is attractive. However, if the perception is that he/she will be taught to ski "correctly", the lesson becomes something like going to Sabbath school - maybe it's "good for you", but it's boring and it means that now you're doing it "wrong".
post #6 of 22
I think people just don't feel that ski schools have much to offer them. Maybe that is why thinks like Women's Ski Weeks and Steep Camps are always full. There is a defined syllabus, and they know what to expect.

Skiing is fun, ski school should be too....
post #7 of 22
I personally had never taken a lesson of any kind until i started racing last season. I will only accept instruction from race coaches usually. I think that there are too many instructors out there teaching improper technique to people. Instructors that i have witnessed do not ski well enough to demonstrate proper technique to their students, and often teach things to the students that are wrong entirely.

Carving (which a lot of instructors are spending their time teaching very poorly) is not the only aspect of skiing, but things that can be learned from a properly taught medium radius carved turn can be applied to skiing all over the mountain. Lessons arent enjoyable for a lot of skiers, because lessons seem to be geared toward the skier who knows virtually nothing about proper skiing technique.

I think that it comes down to cost and the lack of benefit to the skier. I dont believe there are very many skiers ont he hill too arrogant to take lessons because most skiers that i know are always eager to learn new things.
Later
GREG
post #8 of 22
Not to get too philosophical, but have we become the "We Don't Need No Education" culture? Take a look at our TV shows, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Who wants to Marry a Millionaire, Friends, Kramer...the list goes on

No, I don't believe we need to spend our days watching PBS, but anything thought provoking does not seem to have entertainment value, nowadays.

Have people become complacent with mediocrity, in all areas of their lives? The most common complaint I get about my own fitness teaching is this statement:
"I really don't care why I should do things a certain way, I just want to do it!"

:
So why are we surprised that people carry this attitude to the ski slopes? :
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by epic:
I think people just don't feel that ski schools have much to offer them. ...
The people that I've talked to about this seem to fall into three categories:

a) The first is the typical walk-in customer. He/she knows that professional instruction is useful and occasionally takes a lesson, or makes his/her children occasionally take a lesson, but for whatever reason(s) doesn't do it all that often. I'll call these the "normal" folks. Sure, they probably should have more lessons, but at least they manage to have an occasional interaction with the ski school every season or two.

b) The second category thinks that ski school is almost entirely unnecessary for them or their family because they can "do it on their own". This group puts learning to ski into the same category as learning to ride a bike, and you don't see very many bike schools around, even for rank beginners. IMHO, this is where a big change in perception by the public would be most profitable.

c) The third category of people think much like the second category. They think that pro ski instruction is pretty much wasted on beginners, but might be appropriate and valuable to kids (and others) that want to ski competitively. The model of ski instruction in their minds is more like that of high school and college athletics coaching.

Category (b) bothers me the most. In particular, I am flabbergasted by the number of parents that I have run into who can barely ski, but yet have attempted to teach their kids to ski either entirely on their own, or with at most one or two professional lessons. When I gently suggest to these types that their kids might do better with a pro lesson, they look at me like I just suggested something completely absurd. This is how deep the problem of perceiving the utility of ski instruction goes.

I have had numerous encounters with type (b) people, but one that stands out and perhaps best illustrates the problem was watching a middle aged woman (maybe an ATM 3 or 4 at best) trying to help her 6 y.o. son down a green slope that had gotten a bit fast after the sun went down. She was in an ineffective snow plow, barely able to stop herself, bent forward at the waist, holding her poles cross-wise in front of her and her kid. Unfortunately, they were exactly neck-high on the kid, pressing on his neck and choking him! The more he complained and cried, the louder she hollered at him.

Fortunately, I was skiing with my daughter and a buddy who is an L-I instructor. They took her kid down, and I talked her down.

At the bottom, when I tried to diplomatically suggest that a lesson or two "is often the quickest and best way to get people past this awkward stage in skiing", she said something like, "he doesn't need a lesson, he just needs to work harder and stop complaining." Whoa! Not being on the staff, I could be my usual direct self and told her, "Lady, you were choking him. You both could use some lessons." She waddled off in a huff. I have no idea if the concept of lessons penetrated.

There are a lot of people like her around, and they are of all ages, gender, etc.. This is what PSIA is up against.

Tom / PM
post #10 of 22
In Physicsman's case, is it lack of humility, lack of knowledge, or something else? I can't imagine what would possess a parent to do that to a child. It almost sounds like child abuse!!
post #11 of 22
At my local hill this season I wintessed a parent(father) screaming at his son on the fundumentals of how to turn. You could hear this guy clear across the slope to the chair lift. All that I could think of was that this guy HAD to be a hockey dad, and boy skiing sounds like fun!!! Child abuse sure I agree, but try to find a judge that would pass judgment in his court. Parents like that SHOULD'NT teach thier kids anything, let alone have kids. All I could think of was poor kid.

EDIT: Back to the subject at hand. I've taken 1 private lesson and benifited greatly from it. I've done the bulk of my learning though from books, this site, home video, Pontiac World of Skiing and on snow. For me that one lesson was the break through that I needed to go from being a so-so skier to a good skier. Am considering joining the racing league next year more or less for the lessons that can be got there.

[ March 30, 2003, 05:16 PM: Message edited by: artimus ]
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by truckman:
... is it lack of humility, lack of knowledge, or something else? I can't imagine what would possess a parent to do that to a child. It almost sounds like child abuse!!
To give her the benefit of the doubt, I think she was so unsure of her own skiing and concentrating on it that the fact she was pressing on her kid's throat with her poles didn't quite register while she was attempting to get the two of them "safely" down the hill. I honestly think it was one of those, "if I hold him near me, everything will be ok", in-over-the-head moments for the mom, and I felt sorry for her/them.

OTOH, after the "dangerous" moment had passed, she really needed to come to grips with how badly she screwed up, and how to avoid situations like this in the future. I tried to plant the seed, but have no idea if I was successful.

Quote:
Originally posted by truckman:
In Physicsman's case, is it lack of humility, lack of knowledge, or something else? I can't imagine what would possess a parent to do that to a child. It almost sounds like child abuse!!
Umm... I just re-read your sentence. Any chance you could rephrase it a bit? Maybe something like, "In the example Physicsman gave...". I know that I occasionally have a lack of humility and maybe even lack of knowledge, but the way its currently written, it sounds like I was doing all the bad things to that poor kid. : [img]redface.gif[/img] : [img]redface.gif[/img] : [img]redface.gif[/img]

[img]smile.gif[/img]

Tom / PM

[ March 30, 2003, 06:54 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #13 of 22
Many skiiers have no concept of how poorly they ski. Many have the idea that to struggle, use tons of effort and be always on teh point of crashing is normal. Hence the love of "going straight".

I've taught heaps of first-timers, and most have the attitude that their first lesson is "it". They expect to learn to stop and turn, and then that is all there is to skiing. I guess it's like learning to use their computer. I can't think of another analogy.

You see so many friends and relatives barreling up happily to teach their friends/family, and they can barely ski themselves.

I'm sure this idea of skiing being a dangerous struggle is what alienates women from the sport in particular.
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by droldman:
Anybody have an estimate of what percent of people actually take lessons?

If the majority of skiers don't take lessons, why not?

Is it:

a.) expense

b.) time

c.) too stubborn/arrogant to take advice/instruction

d.) too good to need lessons

e.) something else

I've never taken a lesson due to time/cost constraints.

Can anybody recommend a good instructor at Hunter Mountain?
droldman:

It's "a" for me. I take lessons and coaching moderately often and I can't remember a session from which I haven't walked (skied?) away with something valuable. My only problem is that I simply can't afford to take lessons very often.

As for finding an instructor at Hunter, ask around a little bit. It helps if you already know what aspect of your skiing you want to try to improve. Just ask a bunch of people - lifties, patrollers, shop techs, etc. If they've been around long enough, they'll have opinions about who the good instructors (not just good *skiers*, but also good *instructors*) are.

You'll start to hear the same names crop up again and again if you ask enough locals.

Bob
post #15 of 22
A reference Related previous topic

"Why don't yopu take lessons"

http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultim...=003455#000013

CalG
post #16 of 22
I just remembered, I have an instructor recommendation at Hunter! He's a top bloke too. I'll PM it.
post #17 of 22
It seems to me that quite a few take introductory level lessons but comparatively few take intermediate and upper level lessons. In my own case, except for a really awful lesson when I was about five years old and a little race coaching, I took no lessons at all until I began teaching skiing, after skiing 40 yrs or so. Cost was an issue but I could also see the caliber of skiers who were teaching all but the "elite" private lessons. Growing up near a ski area and skiing a lot I could see how badly these ski teachers skiied themselves. It was kind of a joke. On the other hand there were a handful of really incredible skiers who taught nothing but expensive private lessons that few could afford. Watching these guys with their bunny-attired high roller customers was also a great source of humor. Back then it seemed that only the locals, who never took lessons, could ski well, and the private students never seemed to get very good. Come to think of it, the really expert ski instructors were pretty much self-taught as well.

In retrospect, it seems to me that part of the fun of skiing is the pleasure derived from teaching yourself. Once a newbie skier is past the initial hurdles a whole realm of adventure opens up for which instruction is only an option. There is so much satisfaction to be had from experimentation and exploration and improvement. It may be that this kind of solitary pleasure and self reliance are akin to the appeal of the sport.

I also know, from having had some really excellent experiences with gifted fellow ski teachers that ski lessons can be rewarding and enjoyable. In all honesty though, ski instructors of this caliber are quite rare. Very little of the training I received as an instructor was very worthwhile, although I suppose we always seek to learn somthing from these experiences. The only ski instructional staff I can think of which is consistently excellent is the PSIA edstaff. Sure there are great instructors out there but what are the odds of the average skier finding them? I wonder if the ski teaching profession as a whole doesn't continue to be discredited by the perception of a prevailing mediocrity?

[ April 01, 2003, 09:01 PM: Message edited by: arcadie ]
post #18 of 22
Don't know about the USA - never skied there let alone taken a lesson....

Canada - well after my experience there I am a little sceptical about the general standard (if a CSIA 4 can teach as BADLY as the lessons I had there then : what are the rest like... ) However one of my favourite instructors is Canadian - so maybe it varies a bit like here...

Here - there are GREAT instructors to be found - but it is tricky to locate them sometimes ... & quite a few quite decent ones also....

From talking to friends it seems that the trickiest is to find instructors for those who are NOT visual learners & also for the nervous/timid... Seems far easier to find an instructor who WILL throw you off a cliff than not...

Seriously though - does it NOT occur to those in ski schools that the visual learner/sporty athletic type is NOT a good candidate for repeat business?
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by arcadie:
I wonder if the ski teaching profession as a whole doesn't continue to be discredited by the perception of a prevailing mediocrity?
THAT'S IT!
post #20 of 22
I got spoiled after going to the PSIA National Academy. Since then it has been difficult finding instructors at a similar level that still teach. My current experience with two different DCLs was not very good. Lots of talking and standing around and not much feedback. We have some people at the local ski school who are very good, but they don't do privates very often. They are busy doing ski school admin. type stuff.
post #21 of 22
Western Management Theory: as soon as someone is really good at something...promote them up to where they don't get to do that thing any more.
And quite often those who are great at doing something are not so great at managing others doing it.
Despite all the talk about this problem, it still goes on as the only way to reward excellence is to promote people into supervisory and management, rather than having some way of recognising excellence at the coalface.
post #22 of 22
The top level of instructors (who I want to teach my lessons) only seem to teach the instructors that only teach the private lessons I can't afford.

The instructors who teach the group lessons I can afford are the ones who don't seem to go to current training.
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