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Instructor Recommendation in Blue Mountain (Ontario) or HorseShoe Valley.

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Do you guys know any good instructors in the resorts close to Toronto. I only know Blue Mountain and Horseshoe resorts.

How do I contact them? Do they usually work for the resort?

As you can tell, I'm new to taking lessons. I skied for one season already, but I need some help on my form, turns..and pretty much everything :)

Thanks,

Ron

 

post #2 of 10
Welcome to Epic Ronnald!

Ski instructors usually work for the resort they teach at. The normal process for taking group lessons is to go to the resort and buy a lesson either at the main ticket window or at the ski school "desk" somewhere in the main lodge or rental building. They will tell you where and when lessons meet. When you show up at the meeting area, there will be separate meeting sections for different level lessons. If you don't know which level group you should be in, a supervisor will help you decide. For group lessons, you don't get to choose your instructor.

Private lessons are much more expensive than group lessons. You usually must arrange for a private lesson only through the ski school desk. For a private lesson, you may request a specific instructor. If you don't know which instructor you want, you may request one by describing attributes like age, sex, certification, specialty (e.g. beginners, racing, moguls), language preference, hair color, etc. In Canada, instructor certifications range from 1-4. A higher certification is generally better (especially 3 or 4), but not a guarantee of a great lesson. Many people who book private lessons don't request a specific instructor. If you do have an instructor in mind, it's best to call the resort before you arrive to arrange for that instructor. The most popular instructors may be fully booked for weeks or months in advance at some resorts. Be aware that most resorts will pay their instructors more if they are requested by name for a private lesson.

If you want to make sure that you get a good instructor (especially one that will be good for you), but you don't know any, how do you find them? EpicSki is one way you can do this. We have an instructor listing for instructors who are also active participants and supporter of EpicSki. We don't have a lot of Canadian instructors on that list, but we do happen to have one who works at Blue. He is jdistefa on EpicSki or better known as Matt DiStefano (here's his instructor listing entry) at Blue. Matt specializes in race coaching, so he may not teach the kind of lesson you need. But you can try asking him for a recommendation if he does not. Send him a private message to get the conversation going. One nice part of EpicSki is that you may be able to find an instructor directly on EpicSki and get to know them through their posting history. We also have several regular skiers from Eastern Canada. They may be able to give you a recommendation from personal experience or reputation. It's kind of slow here in the summer, so it may take a while. Check this thread occasionally and you're bound to get a couple of leads that way.

Some people will find their instructors by watching other lessons out on the slopes. Lesson groups are pretty easy to spot on the mountain. Discreetly watch some until you spot an instructor that you like, then catch up with him or her at the lift and ask for their name. Some people will start taking group lessons until they find an instructor they like, then move up to privates to make sure they get their favorite pro every time.

Again, welcome to EpicSki and also welcome to the sport of skiing. We're here to share our life long passion for the sport and we're glad to have your company. At EpicSki, you'll find an avalanche of information to help you enjoy the sport to the fullest.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Wow, thanks Rusty. This is a lot of useful info. You're right, maybe I should take group lessons first because I'm still learning the basic stuff.

Thanks for the welcome. I posted this now because I know people take a little while to reply, and I wanted to have all my info ready before the start of the season.

Ron
post #4 of 10
If you're just starting out, you should check out Mt. St. Louis in the Barrie area as well.  It's generally a little less crowded than Horseshoe, with the beginner areas nicely isolated from the main traffic areas.  Horseshoe is great for night skiing midweek, just watch out for the school crowd during the dinner window, 5:30 to about 7:30 PM.

Ski School Director at Horseshoe is Ian Kirkpatrick, St. Louis has Jim Morris.  Both are highly regarded senior CSIA Level 4 instructors, both run excellent ski schools.

Blue Mountain has a fair bit more terrain to work with (not the Rockies or anything, but we make do pretty well...).  Ski School Director at Blue is Chris Lewis, also CSIA Level 4.  Generally enough skiers taking lessons on any given day that you should be able to join up with a group at a similar level.

There are a couple of "travelling clubs" based out of the GTA (e.g. High Park Ski Club, North Toronto Ski Club) that go to various places in the Barrie/Collingwood area, including the private clubs on midweek trips.  Lessons are provided to members (no extra cost) on all day trips by CSIA certified instructors (most Level 2, a handful are Level 3).
post #5 of 10
Ronnald,

There are some people who are better off with privates right from the get go. Only you can decide how you best learn versus the time you have available and the money you have to spend. Most people never take a private. Some people start their very first day with privates and never take a group lesson.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks Mogul, I haven't been to St. Louis yet. We used to go mostly to Horseshoe because it's closer. And if we drive a bit further we might as well go to Blue Mountain, but I'm going to try it next winter.

I've heard about the High Park Club, sounds like a good idea. I have to call them to get some info.

Thanks for the contacts.

Rusty, thanks for the followup. I'll take that into consideration.

Ron
post #7 of 10
 Everyone else here has made some very good points. As a beginner I would suggest starting off with a group lesson. You may find that the format works for you, but it is dependant on the group and the instructor, neither of which you have control over. I would suggest Horseshoe or Mt. St. Louis if you're going to be skiing on the weekends, at least to start with. Blue Mountain on a weekend can be pretty swamped, the beginner areas even moreso. Not necessarily the best learning environment. However once you get some experience under your belt and can move off the bunny hills (or you can take a day or two mid-week), Blue is a good choice.

I'm afraid my knowledge of Collingwood area instructors is mostly confined to the private clubs (generally inaccessible unless you know a member), but a couple suggestions:
Jean-Marc, aka Taz (whose last name I'm spacing on at the moment, but if you ask for Taz, someone should know who you're talking about) is a great level 3 who works Blue during the week (works at a private club on the weekends), very talented skier and extremely personable.

Steve Young is an excellent instructor - he's a level 4 examiner (i.e. he trains and conducts exams for the top level of certification in Canada), as well as being one of the hosts/tipsters of the Pontiac World of Skiing TV show. Fantastic guy and very funny too. He works Blue midweek when he's not off with other commitments. You can contact him through his website, www.steveyoungski.com.

Unfortunately as I said, most of the Ontario-based instructors I know are either based out of the private clubs, or tend to just do work for the CSIA (courses, etc.), but I'll be sure to add more if I think of anyone. The travelling club idea is a great one, I've never been involved with any of them, but I know some instructors who have, and they speak highly of it, and that's generally a good sign that the program is worthwhile. The other option for privates is just talking to someone in the ski school (usually the front desk, but you can occasionally find the director or other manager) to get some recommendations - if you ask for a level 3 or higher, your chances of finding someone who'll really make an impact are significantly improved.
post #8 of 10
+1 for CI's post #7...
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks Canuck, lots of good info. I've already been on all the black slopes, but I guess most of the lessons happen on the green ones?

I agree that the green slopes are way too crowded at Blue Mountain, not to mention dangerous, since there are lots of people that don't know how to stop.

I agree that horseshoe and st louis might be better for learning. A little quieter. It's too bad I can't go during weekdays, it's too far.

Thanks a lot for the recommendation.

Ron
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronnald View Post

Thanks Canuck, lots of good info. I've already been on all the black slopes, but I guess most of the lessons happen on the green ones?

I agree that the green slopes are way too crowded at Blue Mountain, not to mention dangerous, since there are lots of people that don't know how to stop.

I agree that horseshoe and st louis might be better for learning. A little quieter. It's too bad I can't go during weekdays, it's too far.

Thanks a lot for the recommendation.

Ron

 

Ah, from your original post I had guessed you were pretty much a rookie. If you're tackling more advanced slopes, there are definitely lessons to be had that will venture off the green runs, don't worry . In fact if you're at a stage where you can ski some more advanced terrain but are generally self-taught and looking to become a more effective and efficient skier, then I'd say you're a prime candidate for private lessons, if you don't mind spending the money. I say this because in a one on one situation an instructor can tailor your session precisely to your strengths and weaknesses, whereas in a group situation it needs to be a little more broad.
As for Blue, if you can venture to more advanced terrain, you can get away from some of the crowds, but weekends in Jan-March are still going to be kinda nuts, as you may know. If you want a lesson at Blue however, a great time to go would be early season (pre-Christmas). Less terrain open, but still some good stuff, and even on the weekends the crowds are pretty minimal. The past few seasons the snow has been great too.
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