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Splitting (forming classes)--How to?

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
Ydnar's current thread, Splits, is raising some good points about what constitutes a reasonable split in a ski lesson ("split" being instructor-speak for forming compatible groups for group lessons). There are, of course, opposing forces involved--the ski school's bottom line prefers the largest groups, while smaller groups better serve the individual needs of students--and they're easier for the instructor to teach. Criteria to consider include skiing ability level, speed and aggressiveness, student desires (work on technique, specific terrain or conditions, or any special individual goal), prior lesson experience, learning styles, age, and so on. It's a given that, if there are two or more people, there will be a split. What constitutes "acceptable" or "workable" or "satisfactory" (for the students) is the subject of Ydnar's thread.

My question is related, but distinct enough for a separate discussion:

What, from both a STUDENT'S perspective, and an INSTRUCTOR'S perspective, do you think is the best way to DO the split?

Traditionally, especially when lessons were more exclusively TECHNIQUE-focused, versus STUDENT-focused, splits involved an individual "call-down." Each student would ski down, one-at-a-time, demonstrating his/her technique and ability, and be directed to the "right" group by a supervisor.

The other end of the spectrum is the purely "verbal split." Instructors ask questions, usually at the meeting place at the bottom of the mountain, and do their best to organize groups of compatible skiers--considering all the criteria above. In a purely verbal split, there is no opportunity to actually watch the skiers ski at all, until AFTER the groups are formed and begin skiing.

In between are verbal splits where the group is confirmed, and often re-adjusted, by a supervisor watching them ski. This may involve a semi-call-down past a supervisor, or just an informal assessment by the instructor.

The Call-Down is time-consuming, extremely impersonal, entirely technique-based, and may put some people uncomfortably "on-the-spot." Few American ski schools do pure call-downs anymore. On the other hand, it still represents the best opportunity for an objective look at each skier's technical ability--which in a group lesson is still often the most important factor in determining compatibility.

Verbal splits take much less time, because they can be done BEFORE the lesson starts, at the meeting place. They are FAR more personal, and provide a much better opportunity to learn about non-technical criteria. They eliminate the spotlight glare of making everyone perform on-stage--which really is uncomfortable for many people. There is no substitute, of course, for actually watching someone ski, but a skillful instructor can actually learn a LOT about someone's ability simply by asking questions and observing body language. Even so, many students don't realize how much we can learn just by talking to them, so their perception MAY be that we never considered how they ski in forming our groups, without a call-down. Perceptions are important, even when they aren't reality!

So--I'm asking for the student's perspective here. What works for you, or doesn't work for you? For how many people is the assumption that you'd prefer not to spend the time, or be put on stage in a call-down, accurate? Do you BELIEVE that we can do an effective split verbally, with only a quick, surreptitious glance at the group skiing to confirm it? (I say we can, but I'm interested in your perception.) How many people feel "cheated" if you don't get a chance to show your stuff in a call-down? How many people would not even take a lesson if you knew that you would have to perform in a call-down?

I'm also curious about the instructors' perspective--do YOU believe that you can assess a student's technical prowess, sufficiently accurately to place them in compatible groups (with, say, 97% accuracy)? ("Compatible" means that you can assemble a group that you can work with effectively, addressing common needs with relevance to each of their INDIVIDUAL needs.)

(Keep in mind that ANY pre-class split should leave the opportunity for a final confirmation, as a group, before the groups head their separate ways. One or two adjustments in a 10-class split, to place someone in a group that better meets their needs, is normal, but if the split is effective, once groups form, the need for subsequent changes should be very rare.)

I was going to describe my own preferences for split procedures, as an instructor and as a supervisor, but I think I'll wait. I don't want to skew anyone's perceptions. (Don't worry--I won't cheat--my preferences are on record in plenty of places.) Your honest opinions here could be very helpful in confirming--or refuting--my own assumptions.

Thanks in advance!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ August 20, 2002, 09:35 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #2 of 55
Thanks for the opportunity Bob. Last year I took just one lesson. The "Women’s Wednesday" Copper. I did post about it then.

My thoughts. They did a verbal sort. Questions about where we like to ski, type of runs, goals for the lesson. After the initial grouping the instructor then repeated the goals it came out that we were "green" skiers looking to advance to blues. Only true for one of the 5 in the group, Re group then off to the hill. MJ was my instructor. Off the lift she looked around and causally said let move a ways down the hill to get out of the way. I am sure that was her way of judging our abilities. 4 of the 5 were fairly close with one having a really hard time. I much preferred this approach rather than having to "perform on-stage"

Is the the type of input you wanted?
post #3 of 55
Thread Starter 
Exactly, Kima--thank you! MY belief is that the best skiing splits take place invisibly to the students, as you described. MJ does a great job, and I'm sure you are right--her "let's just move down to that tree" (or whatever) gave her ample opportunity to observe the group, as a group, enough to determine if their skiing was compatible with their goals.

This eliminates the pressure of the call-down spotlight, and even if you KNEW she was actually "watching" you, it's still a lower-pressure environment when you're skiing in a whole group.

But I have had students complain, in similar situations, that "you didn't watch ME." Their PERCEPTION is that we can't have assessed their personal skiing. I don't know how many times I've been asked to "just ski behind me and watch ME," when the fact is, I already knew EXACTLY how this skier skied. Few students, I believe, realize how quick a study most instructors are when it comes to identifying movement patterns and technical issues. We've discussed this before at EpicSki--one turn, even a photo of a MOMENT in a turn--is usually enough to get a very good idea of what's going on in a person's skiing. (Yes, there are exceptions, and without confirmation, we don't know for sure if that moment was the exception or the rule--but it doesn't take long to figure it out!)


Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #4 of 55
To add to Bob's comment about how quickly a good instructor can evaluate a students skiing. Remember that verbal split, I know how you ski from that ten minuets of talking to you and watching is something of a formality, just a quick check to confirm what I learned from the verbal split. As a guess I would say that only about one student in a huindred surprises me with how they ski in relation to how I thought they would ski.

post #5 of 55
From another student's perspective, my goal is to be in the right class and I'm willing to do a call down or a verbal or whatever is best. I do know a lot of people who hate the call down's.

I suppose this may be difficult for the ski school from a logisitic standpoint, but would it be possible to give a student a choice as to a verbal or call down? Let me set the scenario. Upon registration, a student is told that being placed in the correct class is the only way to get maximum value out of the lesson. The student can then be told that the best way to determine the appropraite class is to do a quick call down. However, if they are averse to such call-downs, the school intake person can try and do a verbal assessment. If you want to take it a step further, the ski school could inform a student that verbal assessments are more frequently incorrect and could require that the student be moved in the middle of the class which is disruptive to the student (and the class).

As an alternative, I wonder if gender plays a role. For example, would a women be less averse to a call down if she knew she would only be doing the call down with other women? (or vice versa, would a man be less averse if he skied down with other men)?
post #6 of 55
Thread Starter 
Thanks Ydnar--I wonder how many students BELIEVE us though....

Good points, Skidmo. How about, as a possibility that might address your request for a "choice," offering the opportunity for a quick, free, skiing assessment, for anyone interested. I'm thinking of a daily thing, where anyone can show up at a designated point and time, ski a short run down to an instructor, and get some very quick feedback. No strings attached, although it would surely include suggestions of how they might benefit from a lesson, and which level they would fit in. I've known ski schools that have offered this, and it seemed well-received to me. It's an inexpensive opportunity for a little extra guest service, and an opportunity to promote the ski school, as well as a way for students to get an accurate assessment of their level--before the lesson.

What do you think?

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #7 of 55

Have to disagree with a couple of your points. A call down is only effective at splitting the students according to the technical skill level of the student on the terrain the call down is done on. There is no consideration given to the motivation, goals, experience level, etc of the student. This can lead to having a level seven group half of whom want to learn bumps and half of whom want to learn high speed carving and crusing. It can also lead to a student in a level five or six class telling the instructor that this is only their second or third day skiing and they have never been off the beginning hill and that the slope they are looking at now (a steep green) looks like a cliff to them (call downs are often done on that beginner hill). So a call down is not necessarily the best way to do a split. Also, because it is impossible to judge a persons comfort zone in regards to steepness and speed in a call down adjustments in groups must be made just as frequently in call down splits as in verbal.

Personally, I think that the best splits occur when there is a verbal split conducted by the instructors at the group meeting area followed by a "ski by" where the instructor leads their group past the watchfull eye of one of the supervisors. What's greeat about this system is that the ski by can be done on more level specific terrain and the instructor can set the tone of the class by the speed and turn size/shape they demo in leading the class. It is seldom necessary to shift students around after splitting them by this method.


[ August 20, 2002, 01:09 PM: Message edited by: Ydnar ]
post #8 of 55
Thread Starter 
While the pressure and embarrassment of call-downs is enough to scare many people away, my biggest objection to them is the amount of time they often involve--AND (as Ydnar points out in the preceding post) that they are not often as effective as many might think.

Here's a not atypical scenario--not exaggerated, and I've seen far worse:

The student shows up at the ski school desk, and waits in line. When he finally gets to the front, the seller (who is probably NOT an instructor) asks him "what is your skiing level?" with perhaps a few stock questions, and he does his best to describe it. He buys a lesson ticket and, at the appointed time, shows up at the meeting place. Here he sees a variety of vague signs that may or may not describe his skiing or his goals, and may or may not bear relevance to the questions the ticket-seller asked. He picks one, and mills around with the others until an instructor shows up. This person again grills him for information, and sends him to a particular place to wait....

After a while--sometimes half an hour (and I've seen longer)--they go up the lift (which means waiting in another line, because all the ski school classes go up at the same time). They get to the top, where a supervisor starts splitting the group up AGAIN, according to criteria that may seem unrelated again to how he was apparently assigned to a group before. But he's in a group, now, sort of.

Then the supervisor skis down a ways and stops, takes his pole straps off, and signals that he's ready. One-at-a-time, each instructor sends the members of his "group" down to the supervisor, who then points them different ways, re-dividing them into yet different groups once again.

FINALLY, when all are down, the instructors and the supervisor huddle together, speaking in muffled tones with a few audible snickers reaching the patient but bewildered students. At last they break, each instructor heading toward a group. The instructor--finally--introduces him/herself and "welcomes" them with a warm greeting! And it begins....

These students have waited in several lines, only to wait again, and again. They've been "split" at LEAST four separate times, by different people, according to apparently arbitrary criteria. They've been put through the ringer, and run the gauntlet, and their lesson is nearly half over before it even begins!

And as often as not, while stuffing down Powerbars at lunch, the topic of discussion among the instructors centers on what "lousy splits" they had to work with!

I'm searching for a system that a) WORKS and b) is, and is perceived to be, more streamlined than what I just described, while being more customer-friendly and human at the same time.

Thank you all for your help!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ August 20, 2002, 01:31 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #9 of 55
It would certainly be a nice service to offer. But if the goal is better identify skiing ability for purposes of slotting in classes, I'm not sure it would help.

My guess is that the reason the call down is disliked by so many is because newer skiers don't like to ski in front of other skiers. It's a self-conscious thing. Because the free, down and dirty evalutaion would likely involve skiing down the slope with a bunch of other people waiting their turn to ski down, I'm not sure you'll get a meaningful chunk of your target audience. The only other problem I see is that I usually sign up for lessons in the afternoon I arrive at the ski resort. So, I wouldn't have time for the free ski evaluation before the class registration.

So, if it's customer service the ski school is seeking, I think its a great idea. If the purpose of to better classify skiers for ski school, I'm not sure its the best choice.

Here's one other option that may help in the long run. I would guess that inappropriate classification is based on one of three causes. (1) Some people always overstate their abilities. (2) Some people always understate their abilities. (3) Some people have no clue as to their abilities or can't describe them. I would venture to guess that the third choice is the majority out there. So, how about the following. After someone completes a ski class, the instructor could give the person a "report card" that "recommends" the level of ski class that the student should take the next time out. This would help the skier who lacks sufficient knowledge. I would recommend that it be a "soft" recommendation so as not to offend any students.

Ydnar, my apologies, I wan't ignoring you, I posted before I saw your post. I was assuming that we were primarily talking about the lower levels where the factors you cited would be less relevant. You're quite right that the skill level is but one of the factors that should be evaluated.

[ August 20, 2002, 01:37 PM: Message edited by: Skidmo ]
post #10 of 55
Another thought, the outcome of the first verbal sort had most of us in a lower level than what our abilities actually were. Not sure if it's because women are more modest about our skills or fearful that we might be put into a group that we would have trouble keeping up with. (MJ was not the one asking the questions of our initial group.)

One last thought. The time it took to do the verbal sort. We were standing around for quite awhile. If you tell me to be someplace ready to ski at 10:30, I am there at 10:30. I understand that some are less punctual, not sure what you do about that.
post #11 of 55
Our ski area used to offer a special program through the secondary school system which offered
equipment rental and a semester's worth of ski
lessons (3hours every Thursday evening for 10
weeks) for grades 6,7 and 8. The first session
(50 to 80 students) always involved both an
interview and a ski down to break classes into
manageable groups of 10 or less. We would
maintain intial class integrities until session
3 of 10, then would reshuffle in order to balance
class ability levels. The system seemed to work
quite well. We were able to take many of these
kids from total "never-evers" to decent parallel
skiers by the end of lesson 10. Over the years
we did discover that some of our staff really were better at reading the ski downs and making the splits than others. One of these guys who
really was sort of a gifted splitter wasn't one
of our strongest skiers.
post #12 of 55
Thread Starter 
"Report Cards" can be a big help too, and many ski schools have implemented something like that. But, of course, they lose relevance quickly--especially at lower levels, you aren't the same skier you were a couple days ago, when that report card was written! They can also take a LOT of time for an instructor to fill one out for each member of a large group, especially if they are to include any real information.

Your concern, Skidmo, that most students really don't have an accurate idea of how they ski, much less the ability to describe it, is well-taken--and accurate. But that is where the instructor's skill comes in. By asking the right questions, observing observing body language, and paying attention to subtle as well as obvious cues, a good instructor can form an EXTREMELY accurate assessment of a skier's technical needs, as well as his/her understanding and motivational needs and goals. It takes skill, though, and it takes intentional effort. It's not just a matter of asking the students what their level is, then chit-chatting.

Frankly, if I had to choose between selecting a group of compatible students only by watching them ski, or selecting a group of students only by talking with them, I'd choose the latter. As Ydnar suggests, watching them ski shows me ONLY their technique, while telling me little about their individual goals and personalities. I can discern ALL these things while talking with them (in person--body language, how they move their hands when talking about their turns, and so on--is highly significant!)

But the "free assessment" thing could help, especially for the student's perception. If they really didn't have a clue (or didn't think they had one) about their level, the ticket seller could say, "show up at the top of X-run at 11:00, and ask the instructor which sign you should go to at the meeting place for the 1:00 pm lesson...."

You've probably surmised by now that I don't think this step is the least bit necessary--from MY perspective. But if it eases the mind of the student that he's going to get into the right group, then it's a good thing. And if it inspires someone who wasn't planning on it to take a lesson, everyone wins! (Let's ASSUME a perfect world, where the lesson will be a good one....)

I do suspect that a lot of skiers don't take lessons because, having not taken one for "years" (if ever), they fear that they won't know how to get into the "right" group. Believe me--you don't have to know ANYTHING about how you ski--it's not a problem at all. That's why we're here! If you really don't know anything about your skiing, just tell the ticket seller "I have no idea what my ability level is. I enjoy skiing blue runs, and sometimes I like to ski a black run if it isn't too hard, and I'm in the mood...." That actually tells us a lot, and we'll take it from there!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #13 of 55
Thread Starter 
One last thought. The time it took to do the verbal sort. We were standing around for quite awhile. If you tell me to be someplace ready to ski at 10:30, I am there at 10:30. I understand that some are less punctual, not sure what you do about that.
Yeah, Kima--that's a big issue, and I'm not sure what the right answer is. Skiing's just for fun (so I'm told ), and skiers are usually on vacation, so I hate to enforce deadlines and schedules with military strictness. But for those who show up on time, it is VERY unfair to make them wait for the stragglers. Since there's always another group lesson in the afternoon, or tomorrow, I tend to lean toward the "10 o'olock means 10 o'clock" school. Maybe 10:00 can mean 10:01, but that's about it.... The airlines don't care that you're on vacation either!

The other thing that comes to mind from your post is your perception of how long it took to sort out the groups. I suspect a lot of that could have been helped by setting more accurate expectations (although I'm aware that it may well have taken way too long--it's an observation I've made at Copper too). "The lesson leaves at 10:00 sharp, but you must arrive at least 10 minutes early--9:50 at the latest--so we can organize the groups...." Would something like that, either in the Women's Wednesday brochure, or from the ticket seller, or both, have helped?

Believe me, everyone--your ideas here will be communicated to the "powers that be," at least at Copper Mountain! This is very helpful. Thanks again!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #14 of 55
I found my initial post, saw that my memory is as usual poor. There were fewer women in my class than I remembered. Anyway it seems I was told to be at the meeting place at 10:00 it was 10:30 when we headed for the lifts.

"The lesson leaves at 10:00 sharp, but you must arrive at least 10 minutes early--9:50 at the latest--so we can organize the groups...."

Would work well for me. I can understand what you are up against. Prior to my lesson I was in the bathroom around 9:30 and saw this well dressed woman applying makeup. At the meeting place she showed up breathless at 10:15 with a "I just got here, sorry” I guess she meant she just got to the meeting place.

Any complaints I had about the SS were quickly dispelled by my instructor MJ. What a gem. Anyone thinking about taking a lesson would do well asking for her!

Hope these two last comments do not cause any drift.

Ps edit to show time of 10:15

[ August 20, 2002, 05:25 PM: Message edited by: Kima ]
post #15 of 55
Bob - How important is the body language? Not that Im asking you to do this, but I wonder how accuately you could do the split for Utah... without meeting the participants.

I know youve skiied with some Bears, did their skiing meet your expectations?
post #16 of 55
I kind of liked the way we were split last year when I took a lesson at Breckenridge. As I remember, we left the base with a group of about 10 students and a couple of instructors, rode up and skied for some time. (Not long, maybe 5 - 10 minutes.) Before heading out both instructors spent a little time talking with each student and the group about what they wanted to work on and what their goals were. With the six seat lift we also had time to speak with an instructor on the way up. After a little skiing and observing we stopped and the instructors tried to split the class into two groups based on group size, goals, observations, etc. We were told what each group would be doing and given the opportunity, with some help from the instructors if desired, to pick which group to ski with. Probably would have been a little better if there had been a little more time spent observing and I guess it is more difficult to access a group headed down rather than individuals. But we also avoided the potential embarrassment of going alone.
post #17 of 55
I like the way Vail does it...

First, when you buy a ticket for a class they have several video monitors playing a tape of all nine levels and the person is asked to roughly slot themselves according to what they see on the video.

Then, to get over the 10:00 means 10:00, we tell the students that they have to be there at 9:45 for an overview and orientation and to go to the sign for their assumed level. During that 15 minutes we have the opportunity to speak with each person individually. Even though a few show up at 9:58 we've had a chance to speak with the others first, so there's no delay. This is our verbal split. It is not unusual to have about half your class be returning people from the day before.

Oh, we all meet at the top of the mountain, so there is no time riding lifts at the beginning.

After the verbal split ALL the levels 5-9 go off in one direction to do our "compatibility matching". But, we send them down in pairs or threes so people don't think they are the only ones on display.

The result is that maybe one or two get promoted.

Then, we almost all ski the same first run and meet again at the top. There we have the opportunity to promote people again or to pick up late arrivals.

The Levels 3-4 don't really ski off, rather they just take a run together down a simple slope.

I don't ever remember getting a complaint that the process wasn't fair or that it was pressure packed. I think it works well.

post #18 of 55
Thread Starter 
Epic--I think we can do a lot toward a PRELIMINARY split prior to Utah, but that we will want to spend some time on it there as well. We should be able to determine roughly how many beginner, intermediate, and advanced skiers we have (and I DO hope that some beginners will join us--should be a great way to start--talk it up!), and what kind of rough interest-splits we will have.

One thing--and this relates to your thoughts too, Kima--I think that the longer the clinic, the more it makes sense to spend a little more time on the split. If the group will ski together for a week, a few extra minutes, or an extra run or two, are probably worth the time. Most multi-day clinics that I've been involved with plan for all groups to meet at lunch on the first day, to allow final group-tweaking after a couple hours of skiing. This also provides the possibility of someone who was late to find an appropriate group. Of course, even here, changes are already disruptive. Groups have started to gel, themes have started to emerge, and a rhythm has begun....

I suppose, too, that someone arriving late for a half-day lesson (which will be repeated in a matter of hours) is in a different situation than someone who is a few minutes late for a ski week. Slack must be cut, and every case is unique!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #19 of 55
Hey Bob,

Great topic-especially with some cooler weather moving in and thoughts starting to turn toward the winter season.

As you are well aware, I think we do a good job at Copper, especially when our stronger instructors do the initial verbal splits and flesh out the MUM ( movement needs, understanding of skiing, and motivation for taking this lesson) model a bit before we head up the hill. The skill of verbal splitting is especially ripe for early season training.

Perhaps to generate a bit of discussion from our lesson "takers", which would make you feel more comfortable-having the on the hill split done by the instructors teaching that day or by a supervisor who will disappear right after split?

Which also brings up the "skill" of moving those folks who are inappropriately grouped in the verbal split, especially when the move is down. Diplomacy in action. [img]smile.gif[/img]

And to our lesson taking clients, there are times when we are going to see differences develop after split. Changes in terrain, snow conditions, physical conditioning and many other factors will cause "splits" to occur within a lesson after it has moved into the learning environment. Solving that one is a real instructor challenge.

I absolutely believe we have an obligation to get students who arrive on time up the hill, through split, however its handled, and into a learning evironment NOW not later.
post #20 of 55
Bob and Ski & Golf, you might get more feedback if the title was different. I am not sure how many of us amateurs know what splitting is. When I saw Ydnar's first post I honestly thought it was some skiing technique.
post #21 of 55
Ski and Golf will get a kick out of this and I think others will see my point.

I can watch a guy get out of the car at a golf course and walk to the first tee and I'll be withen 10 shots of predicting what he'll shoot.

It's not the equipment (although that may speak volumes..... a guy with a set of fifteen year old forged irons with a hole the size of a dime worn out on the face of the seven iron) it's how he totes the bag,it's how long the bag strap is,it's a lot of little tell tale signs. Let me watch him go to the first tee and put the rock on a peg and I'll narrow the gap to seven shots. Let me look at his grip and pre-shot routine and I'll be down to five shots. Let me watch how quickly he hits his first tee shot. Does he stand over the ball for an eternity or does he play quickly and confidently.

I think we have been here before. We watch someone carry their skis and walk in their boots and I bet we're fairly close to pegging their skiing level. It may not be a fair thing to do, however, we do it.
post #22 of 55
Thread Starter 
Great images there, Rusty! Knowing virtually nothing about golf, I still have no doubt that you are right. It is the same with skiing, of course--there are SO many cues and clues. Beginners and experts alike give themselves away with virtually every move they make--or don't make, every word they say, and every expression on their faces.

Good idea, Kima. I have now changed the thread title slightly--from "Splitting--How to?" to the current name. I'll be glad to change it again if someone has a better suggestion....

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #23 of 55
For us British skiers the norm is to go away for a week's skiing at a time, and book a week of 2 or 3 hour morning lessons. Every time but once I've had to do the call-down (or ski-off as we call it). I tend to feel I don't do myself justice on it, as if we flew over on Sunday it might be the first skiing I've done for months and I know I'll improve a huge amount in the first day. Now I'm prepared to believe that the instructor can tell what I'm 'really' like in spite of this, but it doesn't feel that way.

I think Bob's got a good point - if I was split based solely on a verbal discussion I probably wouldn't believe the instructor could possibly tell without having seen me ski. But if he got it right, I wouldn't have a problem next time. Maybe you should have the discussion & then reassure people that if the group isn't suitable you'll give them a free lesson or something.

The other time I felt was a good idea that didn't work in practice. We were asked a couple of short questions about our ability (can you ski parallel? Can you ski black runs? was as far as they got with me) and split into rough groups. The theory was we'd ski for an hour or so together, and reconvene to rearrange the groups. However there was never any rearranging in spite of the differences in our group. When I've booked a week of lessons I don't mind starting with an hour or so of 'just skiing' to warm up and get into the right group, so I like this approach if it could be got to work.

The 'free assessment' is a great idea. Maybe the Europeans should offer it on Sunday afternoon before ski school starts seriously Monday at 9.

Evolution 2 in Val d'Isere last year told us what our level was at the end of the week, and suggested we use that at the start of the next set of lessons but of course that is only relevant if you go back to the same place & ski school next time.

I agree it's a waste of time asking people what standard they are (however you phrase it). Brits generally over-estimate how good they are, as they only compare to their friends & other part-time skiers. A British holidaymaker who's done 10-15 weeks skiing thinks they are pretty good and should be in the top ski school class. After all, they've been skiing for over 10 years now...

p.s. I don't care in the least if I'm skiing off in front of men, women or both. But that's because it doesn't really matter to me how good I am compared to other skiers.
post #24 of 55
Originally posted by Frances:
... I tend to feel I don't do myself justice on it, as if we flew over on Sunday it might be the first skiing I've done for months and I know I'll improve a huge amount in the first day. ...
Everone who hasn't been on skis for a while has the same problem. Is there something about their system that makes it difficult to sign up for 4 days of lessons instead of 5 (for example), and ski on your own on the first day?

If the full week of lessons are part of a package tour, another option is to simply not show up at the ski school until the 2nd morning and then get placed in a class after you have your ski legs back. The only real penalty that I see is a roughly 20% increase in the cost of each day's lessons.

Tom / PM
post #25 of 55
The last few times I've had lessons, if the split were done correctly, I would have an instructor to myself. I'm not sure if complaining would be reasonable in this case. :
post #26 of 55
And I'd add to that by suggesting that IMHO, many of the regulars here on Epic are probably past the point of diminishing returns with respect to what they get out of group lessons. Skiers beyond the beginning stages of the sport can really profit from a few hours of one-on-one time with a pro, even if done only occasionally throughout the season.

Tom / PM
post #27 of 55

Here's an idea inspired by Miles and PM.

Eliminate the need for having to go through a split by getting together with a few friends of like ability and pooling your money to take a private. At my resort if four people get together and do this then they can have a full day lesson with the instructor of their choice for just 40 dollars more than the cost of a three hour semi-private (here at DV we just don't do "group" lessons). This also lets you come back for more lessons and request the same instructor, which is the only way to insure consistancy in your lessons.

Even if you can't find three friends who are at your level this can still work. Just do an internal split of the group and share the instructor around any way you want, we sometimes refer to this as a tag team lesson. We don't mind as long as you give us time to eat lunch and visit the little boys or girls room.


[ August 21, 2002, 11:22 AM: Message edited by: Ydnar ]
post #28 of 55

I concur with the ability for a keen eye in both skiing and golf to have a pretty good handle on an persons ability just from the way they handle themselves before you ever see them perform. Let me give you a real world example.

A couple of years ago, just after Copper opened the Copper Station day lodge, I was sent down to Copper Station from Center Village to meet a guest for a private lesson. I hooked up with the guest and went through the usual introductions and inquiries into his goals and skiing background. He said he skied all the blacks back at his home area in Wisconsin or Minnesota and wanted to work on some short turns prior to getting into bumps. Yet, there was just something in his stance and body language that caused me a vague uneasiness. But I went against that little voice, trusted his verbal descriptions, since to go anywhere else meant a bus ride to a different base area, and up the Super Bee we went.

BIG mistake!!!! As those of you who know Copper understand, there is no easy way down from the top of the Super Bee, especially in early season.

So, we ultimately wound up side slipping him down a moderate blue run, down loading him to Center Village and heading to green terrain to address his REAL needs. And as fate would have it, I have to run into the ski school director as we side slip our way down. [img]redface.gif[/img]

This little incident was the genisis of my philosophy on splits- I will TRUST what you tell me but I am going to VERIFY it in a way that gives me an out.

I would bet almose every experienced instructor could relate a similar happening.
post #29 of 55
Originally posted by Ydnar:
Here's an idea inspired by Miles and PM. Eliminate the need for having to go through a split by getting together with a few friends ...Even if you can't find three friends who are at your level this can still work. Just do an internal split of the group and share the instructor around any way you want, we sometimes refer to this as a tag team lesson. ...
Yd -

Don't credit me. I had no idea the tag team thing was even possible. What a great idea. Thanks for letting us know.

Tom / PM
post #30 of 55
Originally posted by Ski&Golf:
...I will TRUST what you tell me but I am going to VERIFY it in a way that gives me an out...
I bet you believe all the parents that tell you that junior is an "expert", too.

Tom / PM
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