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Ski or teach

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
This is a spin-off fron the re-cert for examiner thread.

First for instructors, trainers, and examiners. Is there a greater emphasis on skiing skills
(easier to evaluate) than on teaching skills (harder to evaluate) in exam situations? Would
a strong skier with lower teaching skills be more able to "slip through the cracks" and pass
an exam than a strong teacher with lower skiing skills? Which would we rather have
representing PSIA in a lesson to the public?

For the lesson takers out there. Have you ever had a lesson from someone who was a
great skier but didn't seem to be as adept at teaching what they are doing? Have you ever
had a lesson from an instructor who, while not the flashiest skier on the hill, was great at
communicating what will help you become a better skier? Which one would you choose for
an instructor if you could pick?

Looking forward to comments,
post #2 of 48
I've known some great teachers who couldn't get certified because of their skiing.
In my own experience, if I didn't pass the skiing part I usually failed the others. I can't remember passing teaching or knowledge and not skiing. I remember one time an examiner passed me one time but failed me the next. I wondered how I could have forgotten the knowledge part. That part shouldn't vary like teaching or skiing. It would seem if they passed me on it once the same examiner would pass me again a year later.
post #3 of 48
While not the best skier on the hill, I have to compensate with my teaching. If a student wants to learn bumps, I pass back to the SSD. I work very hard on my demonstrations to be certain that they are accurate. And I work very hard on my communication skills to be certain that the student has an understanding of what I am demonstrating and discussing.

To answer your question; it is better to have a teacher who can teach and demonstrate accurately, than one who lacks teaching and demonstration skills, but can ski anything anytime.

At the risk of starting another flame war, I think that I need to suggest that there is a great difference in certification between PSIA and PMTS. For PMTS entry level accreditation, Green, the candidate must ski the full four days with tibias and skis aligned in parallel. Then the first two days are training and the second two days are devoted to teaching situations. During the teaching portions of the process, the canditate MUST show an ability to use Student Directed Ski Instruction effectively. (SDSI is the forerunner of PSIA's Guest Centered Instrucion. Both systems were developed by Kim Peterson, formerly of Winter Park.)For Blue accreditation, blue bumps are added and the teaching becomes more critical as far as SDSI is concerned. Black level candidates must ski black bumps, showing effective weighted and unweighted releasing. Also the candidate must effectively carry on six individualized lessons simultaneously, using SDSI.

The upshot of all of this, is PMTS focuses on teaching more than skiing. The skiing must be competent for the level of accreditation. Many people who have PSIA certs don't get accreditation as high as they do in PSIA. Many Level I and II fail the Green pin. Almost all Level III get no higher than Blue. There are only a handfull of Black level instructors. A former member of PSIA's Demo Team only got to Blue. Her skiing was without question. But her teaching held her back.

I hope that this post clearly shows the difference between PSIA and PMTS. I write this, not to cause controversy, but to accuarely describe the dofference beween the accreditation/certification programs.

[ May 20, 2002, 09:05 AM: Message edited by: Rick H ]
post #4 of 48
Rick, all well and good, but how does a small hill of 240 ft. vertical with 3-5000 lesson hours a day get 400 instructors qualified? Every season?

Ydnar, in the 60s we hired racers to teach and found that though they were great skiers, they didn't know exactly what they were doing and consequently couldn't teach it, and also they didn't have the patience for lower classes.

On the other hand, after breaking a leg in Davos and having plates and screws in my shin, I couldn't ski and was on crutches. So I went out to visit to the hill and my SSD said that an advanced student was asking when I could teach, so I said I'll give him a lesson now and took a chair to the hill and spent an hour teaching the guy, sidestep, make several turns, sidestep again.

Not only did he give me a big tip but said it was the best lesson he ever had. So there.

post #5 of 48
Teaching ability is, of course, a lot harder to measure objectively than skiing ability. There are certain hard skills, and certain fields of knowledge, that we can certainly test. But that mixture of charisma, caring, knowledge, skill, experience, insight, timing, creativity, art, and science that make great instructors great is pretty hard to put a number on.

That doesn't mean PSIA hasn't tried, very hard, contrary to some opinions. I can tell you that I failed the Full Certification exam myself--twice--both times on teaching, while passing the skiing every time. (These days, once you pass one segment, you don't have to retake it. But when I was getting certified, a fail anywhere meant you had to retake the entire exam--ugh!)

There is an even bigger push these days, in PSIA, to focus equally on the teaching, along with some new tools to help us evaluate teaching skills. In my division (Rocky Mountain), as Rick H notes, we have incorporated a new teaching model called "Guest Centered Teaching" (this is a trademark). Developed over several seasons, primarily at the Winter Park ski school under the leadership of Kim Peterson, Jim Shaw, Jen Metz, and others on their training staff, the GCT model represents a clean and simple system for both developing an effective lesson, and for evaluating a lesson plan. Kim et al would be the first to affirm that the model is nothing new--based primarily on what the most effective instructors have always done, as well as current state-of-the-art education theory.

Essentially, the GCT model starts with the obvious: if an instructor effectively addresses the needs and desires of the student, the lesson can't fail; if he/she fails to meet those needs, the lesson cannot succeed. Clearly, before we can address a need, we must first identify it. So the model recognizes two fundamental instructor activities, that go on throughout a lesson: identifying needs, and addressing needs.

Contemporary education theory identifies three categories of needs in education: cognitive needs, affective needs, and psychomotor needs (the "CAP" model). Accordingly, the Guest Centered Teaching Model, using more accessible terminology, recognizes Motivational needs (affective), Understanding needs (cognitive), and Movement needs (psychomotor).

We represent this concept with a simple grid, with three boxes representing needs that must be identified, and three more for the activities that address those needs.

In the Rocky Mountain Division of PSIA, as of this past season, we have made extensive use of this grid in our clinics and even in our exams. The Teaching exam score sheet is very simply the 6-boxed grid. We score candidates from 1-10 in each box. It is very easy to hold them accountable for identifying all relevant needs and motivations, and then to see that they address all those needs.

In my opinion--and I did about 10 exams this season--the result has been a huge improvement in our ability to examine teaching skills, consistently, and reasonably objectively. Instructors watch a short video of skiers, complete with brief interviews to give some insights into their personalities, motivations, learning styles, understanding (and misunderstanding), as well as a few minutes of skiing.

Successful instructors demonstrate their skills and insights not only in listening and observing, but in describing what other questions they would ask, and what additional observations they would need to make. They make assumptions, and describe how they would verify those assumptions. And they describe and demonstrate a lesson plan that addresses the needs they've identified, clearly drawing relevance between what they're doing, how they're doing it, and the specific needs and desires of the student.

In all, the GCT model is a great tool to help plan lessons, and a great tool for evaluating them. We still examine primarily for the "hard skills" of teaching--the knowledge and understanding of what to do and how to do it. "Soft skills"--personality, charisma, and ability to connect with individual students--is something that we may never be able to measure objectively. How could we? And SHOULD we? It is the same in most fields, including education. Teachers, doctors, and plumbers become certified when they demonstrate the requisite level of knowledge and skill. That certificate has little bearing on whether or not you'll like them!

We can provide training and feedback for the other things, but I'm not sure it's possible--or even appropriate--to base an exam on them. Ski schools can hire or not based simply on whether they "like" an instructor. But obviously, we can't determine a pass/fail in an exam on this criteria!

We'll work on a "Master Teacher" accreditation program in the Rocky Mountain division this summer. PSIA-East has a similar program that, I believe, has been quite successful. It will provide more opportunities to grow as teachers, separate from the technical and athletic side of skiing.

PSIA's new manuals include the "Core Concepts" manual that deals exclusively--and exhaustively--with the science and art of teaching, not specific to any snowsport discipline (alpine/nordic skiing, snowboarding, adaptive, etc). Discipline-specific technical manuals are separate, but the Core Concepts manual is...the CORE!

So I think we are making excellent progress in the areas we need. It is a non-ending process, of course, and it will never be perfect. But it is damned good!

The biggest problem yet to be solved is not in the opportunities that are out there for training and certifying, but in getting instructors to take advantage of these opportunities! That we offer great programs and tools does not imply that all--or even a small fraction of--instructors have been exposed to them. Instructors at most ski schools need not be certified, trained by, or even members of, PSIA to teach lessons. And requirements for remaining current, once certified, lag woefully behind the evolution of what is involved in BECOMING certified. The other thread has discussed our efforts to rectify this problem at the high end. Now we must address it across the profession, at all levels.

Only when a certification pin becomes a truly reliable indicator of an instructor's training, skill, and cutting-edge knowledge and technique, will it carry the marketing potential we all want!

One solution that I think would help is for certification to remain permanent, as it is now. But for the pin to bear the year of the most recent update/reverification event attended! That way, the pin states not only that you once demonstrated a certain level of skill, but that those skills are current and contemporary as of at least the year on the pin.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #6 of 48
Good comments, Bob. I agree.

Although it's clear that the teaching is the key, we insist in PSIA-RM and in the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen on a high level of skiing (and those that don't have it yet, must be in process of getting it).

I believe the reason is twofold:
1. The guests have a right of access to the most modern, most effective, most efficient skiing mechanics available. If a pro doesn't have his or her feet on the snow relative to the skiing, the guests won't get what they pay for.
2. Pros who know their skiing teach better stuff. They make better decisions on what's next, what's possible, what's appropriate, and what's connected to what.

This is why a guy like Ott can teach a lesson sitting in a chair--because he knows his stuff in the teaching.

Now this isn't to say that every pro has to be a superathlete. I get this argument all the time from those like Rick H, that say they aren't the best skiers on the mountain. (And by the way, Rick H, your practice of referring lessons that you don't feel strong teaching is excellent, and I wish more pros would do that. It shows both humility and wisdom, and I'm sure it comes back to in referrals from others or from the satisfied guests that you refer to others.) However, I'm sure that Rick H is a fine skier if he requires of himself that he ski high performance at low speed on his confidence terrain.

My insistence on good skiing is based on the belief that all pros can ski perfectly within their comfort zone. Those that blow it off in favor of their teaching skills are doing their guests a disservice, and will never be able to teach from Ott's chair.

Also, while I'm at it, Ant asked awhile back, "who examines the examiners" (and so did Nolo). Why Harald Harb, of course. [img]smile.gif[/img]

Actually, we have a committee whose judgement everyone respects that judes us. I like it. I got challenged and improved from the judgement.
post #7 of 48
I think the teaching skill is more important than the ability to amaze people with your turns. We have a couple of folks with Master Teacher certs at my hill because they either haven't been able to pass the skiin portion or don't want to try because they don't think they will pass. If you look at the coaches of the highest level of atheletes, the coach, could probably never beat the student. But they understand the mechanics and can teach it.

On another note, regarding Bob's idea of listing the year you got your cert on the pin. I think it's interesting, but still doesn't say anything of any value. I got my L3 in '96. I know other people who got their L3 the same year and have dropped off the map. I, on the other hand, attend a 5 day Master's Academy every (or almost every, if the weather is good) year, and get instruction from the D-team. If getting your L3 is a "license to learn", then is it better to have last year's date on your pin, and say that you are "current", or have a date from 20 years ago, and have continued to learn and an additional 20 years of experience? Unless we wear our resumes on our backs and include every training event we attend, there is no way for anyone to read anything into the date, if it were on the pin. All one could assume, is that if the person loved teaching enough to get a L3, then they probably are current, because they enjoy it. Maybe we could force the people who only attend the minimum to keep the pin, to return their pins and issue them a "pin polisher" pin (kidding of course). I think we need to assume that people are up to date. There are not a lot of pin polishers out there.

here's a question: In what professions that require some sort of test or exam, does the examining body make people constantly take validation exams? Do pilots? CPAs? CFPs? Lawyers? School teachers? PhDs? Real Estate agents? Doctors (and think how fast medical technoogy improves)? As far as I know, none of them do (maybe I'm wrong?)
post #8 of 48
Thread Starter 

Great story. Reminds me of the time that I was talking about this subject with one of our trainers. He was arguing for needing the highest standards on the skiing side. I asked him which he would rather see at the end of a learn to ski bumps better lesson the instructor ripping down through the bumps and the class struggling and floundering their way down or the instructor doing an OK job skiing down and the class skiing down in a solid, controlled manner with big grins on their faces. After a bit of hemming and hawing he said he would like to see the best parts of the two scenarios but if he had to choose he would go with the more successful class.


I definitely don't want this to become a thread about PSIA cert versus PMTS cert but I will make this comment. It sounds to me that PMTS is evaluating the candidate not on how effective of a instructor they are but rather how good are they at demonstrating understanding and application of Kim's particular teaching model. Now it might be a great teaching model but someone who is an excellent teacher but has never heard of the guest centered teaching model (should I be giving the phrase caps and trademark designation) isn't going to fair to well in an exam that is looking for the use of that model. By the same token someone versed in GCT might do poorly if the evaluator was looking for them to use the experiential teaching cycle that Kim espoused a number of years ago or if they were looking for a lesson based on PSIA's old eight point teaching model. The point that I would like to make is that evaluating teaching is a very difficult thing to do and is a very subjective thing and all these different models are attempts to make the evaluation process more objective and any such attempt just tends to turn the exam into a dog and pony show.

Thanks for the input,

PS. This was written before the posts by Bob B. and others, I'll try to respond to those when i get done with a workout and a little digging in the dirt in my garden.
post #9 of 48
JohnH, I can assure you pilots get “recertified” each year. Well to be exact, I get tested FOUR times per year in a simulator for 4 hours each time, plus a 1 hour oral exam prior to the simulator sessions. That’s in addition to the two days of emergency procedures revalidation each year, plus 1 full medical (2 medicals per year one I turn 40). Then there’s the requirement to maintain recency in a myriad of procedures, should I go on holidays or maybe not do enough night landings, instrument approaches, auto landings etc. etc., yep you guessed in, back into the simulator for a special session to get me current.

Both Ott and Bob, nice posts. I can see one problem with the recertification process as it’s described. What incentive is there for the instructor to go through this process? As John raised the point, in my case my company requires me to be recertified otherwise I simply cannot sign on for work (ie I don’t get paid). However what about the ski industry? I can see 4 possible incentives.

First, intrinsic satisfaction. That avenue already exist, in that instructors can already take additional courses/workshops/training if they wish to improve their skills. They don’t need a formal process for this.

Second, increased pay. Probably the most promising, but it would mean schools would need to pay certain instructors more than they presently do. Given that most would like things to be cost neutral I can’t see that happening.

Third, guests/customers/clients, call them what you will, recognising and demanding the services of an instructor of a certain level and/or having done a course within a certain time. Frankly I think we’re giving the average Joe too much credit if we believe he/she would have even the remotest knowledge of the PSIA system.

Fourth, could be an actual requirement to attend a course/clinic each year in order to maintain that level. Maybe each year you don’t attend a course you drop down a level? Pretty harsh, and likely to receive a huge backlash against PSIA.

From a customer’s perspective I think the main problem with the industry is that there is little or poor quality control. Who knows what the lesson will be like until after it’s over. A fairly broad sweep with TQM would probably fix a lot of problems.



[ May 20, 2002, 08:11 PM: Message edited by: Pete ]
post #10 of 48
Interesting points.
It's been my experience that the US does the teaching thing very well. Here in Oz, being able to ski very well is the primary consideration...you must look good.

Also in my experience, the good skiing thing results in a disproportionate number of young ski gods in The Uniform, but patience, empathy and teaching skills are about 10 years away. and the guests know it.
You see a lot of these instructors doing tiny little high-energy turns down the groom, watching each other.

OTOH, I am not sure that it is possible to teach skiing well without knowing how to ski well.

Then again, I'm taken back to certain pros i worked with in the States, who could not buy a parallel turn but had a large return clientele.

Then again, do we measure teaching excellence by the number of return lessons they generate????! (Bob B knows my views on that system).

Quality-control is a big issue, for PSIA and for individual ski schools. I saw very little to none where I was this winter, but at my old hill in Vermont, it was done rather effectively.
post #11 of 48
From a customer’s perspective I think the main problem with the industry is that there is little or poor quality control. Who knows what the lesson will be like until after it’s over. A fairly broad sweep with TQM would probably fix a lot of problems.
Pete, I'd be interested to know how a broad sweep with TQM that would fix problems in the snow sports industry would be accomplished, given that it's, well, the snow sports industry, a notoriously fractious group that does not play well together?

Then again, do we measure teaching excellence by the number of return lessons they generate????!
How do we measure teaching excellence if not by the same measure we use for service excellence in any other field?
post #12 of 48
Originally posted by nolo:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr /> Then again, do we measure teaching excellence by the number of return lessons they generate????!
How do we measure teaching excellence if not by the same measure we use for service excellence in any other field?</font>[/quote]It's so tempting, isn't it? Such a nice, neat way to measure performance. Only it's not a good way, at all.

What it does is reward good sales people, who may be teaching good lessons, or they may be teaching a load of rubbish, but have great sales skills.

At a hill where many of the guests don't want to take lots of lessons, a "good" lesson from the perspective of the guest is one that fixes their perceived problems, and releases them from ski school to go do their thing.

A good sales person might be able to convert this into more lessons, but a person just teaching well won't necessarily do this. The guest will go off, thoroughly delighted at such an effective lesson. Years later, they might have another one. The instructor, meanwhile, is judged not to be teaching well, because not enough of their guests are coming back.

And here's another anomoly. One day, I got 4 people who could not get down the lower part of our bunny hill without falling over, they had zero control. Couldn't stop, turn or even glide without falling.

It turned out that all 4 had done a first-timer lesson the day before, with different instructors. Since at lesson's end, none of them could ski at all, they'd come back, to learn those things they needed to know: like stopping.

At the end of our lesson, all could glide, stop and turn, and were as usual delighted, as now they could head off and ski. Yes, lessons were good etc etc but they just wanted to 'get out there'. School's Out!

And the four instructors who generated that return business, by teaching manifestly poor lessons, got rewarded for generating return business.

I feel quite strongly about this! It's about sales skills, shameless blarney, rather than what we regard as good teaching. Sure, it can be taken into account, but it should never be used as the sole system of quality control or performance.

(goes grumbling off)
post #13 of 48
You know what they say, ant, if you can't measure it...

If you can't measure it, can you evaluate it?

If yes, HOW?
post #14 of 48
The way good ski schools do it.
ie by a range of measures, such as in-house training in *teaching* as well as skiing (training is a good way for trainers to monitor what's happening with people), customer feedback (both voluntary feedback and pro-actively sought feedback), actual auditing (in Vermont we had training staff accompany our lessons, very positive experience for all, they monitored us, and also gathered info on training needs), return business (sure, it has a place in the scheme of things)...

Because here you have a 2 pronged issue.
We can insist that ski lessons be good in terms of good teaching of "good" technique, or, we can admit that what ski schools seem to be more interested in is making money, so we can dispense with the teaching of "good" technique so long as our instructors are skilled at selling.

Sure, being a good sales person doesn't preclude them from also being a good skiing instructor, but the two skills are rare in the one person.

I'm being devil's advocate here, but it really does seem to me that in measuring performance in this way, a SS is tacitly allowing instructors to let their skiing skills slide, so long as they continue to generate return business for the SS.
post #15 of 48
I once had a lesson in bumps with a man named Spaulding Grey--a monologuist from New York.

Interestingly, he wanted me to do a high performance run for him in the bumps. "Show us what skiing could be." What an amazing phrase. And at the end (I had a good one--I'm fearless in soft snow!), he said that it was "transcendant".

Now I'm not an advocate of showing off, and I do feel that when the instructor is skiing with the guest--the instructor should be skiing "for" the guest--talking with the body--demonstrating. However, Spaulding's request intrigued me, because it is exactly how I feel: I want to see the sport in its glory. I want to watch Bode ski well--transcendant--beyond what I can do--ever. That inspires me. That's my learning style. And don't call it "visual". It's inspirational!

In fact for me, I'm totally uninterested in taking lessons of any kind from someone who doesn't "rip". And, if you rip, as a teacher, I will be an empty vessel. But I want to see you rip.

[ May 21, 2002, 04:13 AM: Message edited by: weems ]
post #16 of 48
Weems, guess it just goes to show that we all look for different things. Wouldn't the world be a boring place if we were all the same [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #17 of 48
>>> actual auditing, in Vermont we had training staff accompany our lessons, very positive experience for all,<<<

I'm kind of ambivelant about his. For a time I was assigned to ski from class to class to monitor, and found it counter productive for the class because the instructor would be teaching to me, indirectly, showing how well s/he could do it, but from the chair I would see a different teaching approach in some classes which showed me that the instructor would teach what he perceived I wanted to hear.

Five minutes tops for a monitor to disrupt a class, and disrupt they do by their sheer presence even when lingering at a distance.

In my experience as a photojournalist, ski instructor and parent of a teenager ,some time ago, you educate them as best you can and then shove them out the door and TRUST them.

If you can't trust them, you, as the educator or the one who does the evaluating of a hire are to blame.

post #18 of 48
Originally posted by weems:
I I want to see the sport in its glory. I want to watch Bode ski well--transcendant--beyond what I can do--ever. That inspires me. That's my learning style. And don't call it "visual". It's inspirational!

In fact for me, I'm totally uninterested in taking lessons of any kind from someone who doesn't "rip". And, if you rip, as a teacher, I will be an empty vessel. But I want to see you rip.
Weems, I couldn't agree with you more. I think there is definitely time that needs to be "put in" in any sport in developing basic sets of tools and learning how to learn. My impression is that most lessons are focused on expanding a skier's set of tools but at some point, that is not where you get the most bang for the buck. My most transcendental experiences have absolutely come either watching or trying to follow a superb skier.

I just ran into a friend here in town that spends his winters in Aspen. As we were talking your name came up and he said (with the implied emphasis):

Oh Weems is a great guy, a really good instructor, and a GREAT skier. It was definitely the last part that got my attention and lit a desire to ski with you some day.

[ May 21, 2002, 06:25 AM: Message edited by: Si ]
post #19 of 48
Pete, It make me feel much better to know that pilots do need to recertify so often. Now, wouldn't it be nice if Doctors also had to?

Great comments by all. But here's the stick in the spokes. Ski areas, and ski schools are a business. The business of business is to make money for the business owners. The company I just left (Fortune 100) was sinking about $10M into a corporate wide TQM process called Six Sigma. As stated, it is long, involved, and extremely expensive (that's $10M out of profits). The mentality of ski areas, no matter how screwed up it is, is for instant rewards. They have little ability to look into the future (except when it comes to building property to sell, because they understand real estate). If SAM (ski area mgt) looked at ski schools as a loss-leader, and an investment, on an industry wide basis, then things could possibly change. Just think how much room this industry has to grow if SAM would invest in the customer.

On the other hand, does my SAM really care if the industry grows? Or do they think that if they invest money in a customer, then that customer will buy equipment at some local retailer and go on vacations out west, so there is no return on their investment? I'm starting to think that the business case lends itself to having more, and larger Intrawests and ASCs around, and to also have them own large numbers of chain ski shops in towns everywhere, so that they can sell equipment to the people they invested in.

A long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away?), I taught sailing for a very well reputed sailing school. I got treated like scum and paid even less. But what was their motivation to have highly experienced and well paid instructors? If sucessful, the student would go out and buy a boat (lining the pockets of the boat builders, dealers, boat supply stores, and marinas), and the sailing school is left sitting on their thumbs.

For the business case to work, there needs to be a cash incentive for the people making the investment.

flame away.
post #20 of 48
Weems--I'm with you 100%!

I don't know how many times I've heard the ski school director at a "local resort" say "Of all the complaints we receive, no one ever says 'my instructor didn't ski well enough.'" Even if that statement is true, it makes me cringe. His followup is that, therefore, we should essentially ignore skiing ability when hiring instructors, and focus entirely on teaching and communication skills in both hiring and training.

I tell him that the ones who would complain are those 90+% of skiers who are uninspired to take lessons because all they see is instructors who cannot rip! They DO complain--by staying away from the ski school desk entirely.

Like you, I have little interest in spending money and time to ski with a "teacher," however brilliant, entertaining, empathetic, and knowledgeable, if he/she cannot make a turn, and cannot demonstrate the passion of the sport!

Phil and Steve Mahre are good guys and pretty decent teachers. But I'd trade every minute of listening to them talk (on the hill) for a few seconds of watching them ski or following them down the mountain....

So yes--teaching skills are essential, and perhaps they have been our weaker area for evaluating in exams. But in heightening our ability to train and evaluate teaching, we MUST NOT ignore the importance of good, accurate, contemporary ... RIPPING!

Pretending that ski instructors don't really need to know how to ski--and that guests don't notice--is perhaps the root of the death spiral that plagues the ski-instruction profession and the ski industry itself.

OK--I'll try to take a couple deep, slow breaths now.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #21 of 48
Weems, I can't believe you taught Spaulding Grey!!!!!! last year, a buch of us mailed A Slippery Slope around to each other.
In the begining he talks about how he used to watch the ski gods and godesses, and wanted to be one of them!

BTW, fitness trainers need to recertify every 2 years.
post #22 of 48
BINGO, Weems 'n Bob!! One of the few things that I buy in on here in the W, is the possible movement next season to the eastern system wherein at lev III exam if you don't have the moves on day one...FORGETABOUDIT!
I want to be inspired not manipulated! I don't care how your bedside manner is or your nifty dog'n pony show, guided discovery, humanistic nurturment is....your word pictures, hand-jive, smoke and mirrors, holistic warmandfuzzy cutting edge new wave, guest centered etc etc etc IS....can ya gimme a demo, skippy?
Whew, every once in a while I need to shed myself of nuance and minutia, and delete my recycle bin!
post #23 of 48
Really good points Ant, it’s the same story of people wanting a quick fix to a complex problem. Maintaining a consistent standard of quality is always a huge problem in a service industry. However it’s not impossible, as many successful service industries go to prove. In general it does require far more complex sampling techniques than one would use in, for example, a factory stamping out widgets.

As for the fractioned state of the industry, it probably doesn’t matter, as I specifically had the ski school scene in mind when I wrote that. My experience with the US ski school area has been from the perspective of a casual observer. Total Quality Management can be an enormously complex area to become involved in, and I’m certainly not in a position to state in a few lines how it could be implemented. While the process MUST come with the full support of upper management … no, indeed the absolute total commitment of the organisation, it is not something that must involve an industry wide organisation. There is nothing to stop an individual ski school adopting the process, and I’ve seen marvellous progress at just such a level. Nevertheless TQM more often than not fails. The main reasons are the lack of commitment by the organisation (and it can be a painful, seeming beaurocratic process), and only implementing portions of the TQM philosophy. Often it comes from a well meaning middle level manager who reads a book on the subject, tries to implement it, and fails.
post #24 of 48
okay. Devil's Advocate time again. Coming from someone (as many others here) who has been in the position of picking who gets hired.

If you have an instructor candidate (A) who is truly enthousiastic about teaching skiing, but only a moderate skier, and you have another candidate (B) who is a total ripper, but only moderately motivated to teach (motivations are likely to be free skiing and the cool jacket), and you can only pick one, who do you hire?

Candidate A can learn to ski better, but will not inspire the GP (general public) by being flashy on the hill. Candidate A will also probably only be teaching beginners for a while. He/she will probably be fairly motivated by the flashy skiing of other instructors, and will probably be motivated to train for certs. Does he need to be flashy?

Candidate B will not be motivated to take out beginner lessons, but will feel "above that" because he is a hot skier. B will probably also not study to be a better teacher, and possibly go for a cert. Nor will he be motivated to take clinics, because he sees himself as better than the rest.

Chances are, that in 5 years, Candidate A will be a much better skier and possibly a level 2, and as a stretch, maybe even a level 3. Skier B will probably not be teaching, and you will have had to go through the expense of hiring someone else. The average tenure for a ski instructor is what, four years?

As an example (I love to make examples of my friends ), Take Dchan. While he is a good skier, he is not superstar flashy. BUT (and it's a big But), he is very motivated. In five years from now, he will be at least a level 2 cert, and will be a much bigger asset to his ski school than Flashy McHuckster : , who will have been replaced twice.

Just some random thoughts

Edit: Yes, I agree that to inspire upper level skiers, you need some instructors, who are visible on the hill, and are good enough to motivate people to want to achieve that level. Although.... do they need to be instructors? If I saw Flashy McHuckster on the hill, and he wasn't in a ski school uniform, am I less motivated to take a lesson? Or do I go to the ski school and ask for a total ripper for an instructor?

[ May 21, 2002, 01:08 PM: Message edited by: JohnH ]
post #25 of 48
Ok...you got me! Candidate A.
post #26 of 48

Hire skier A, and when you need a hi- performance flash by,

call the patrol !!!

Some of us would even put on the cool jackets!

post #27 of 48
Jeez, Cal...that always inspires me, the ol' banana shaped, one-turn-fits-all, glue-footed Patrol-Roll! Especially when done on 1970's vintage Graves with either Cubco's or maybe Marker simplex toes with Look Nevada heels!
Oops, sorry...kinda got locked up in a stereotype....I'm sure things have changed....NOT!!!

[ May 21, 2002, 01:57 PM: Message edited by: Robin ]
post #28 of 48

I shall provide you with a pony- tailed geezer in a well soiled and tattered "rust" colored patrol coat, that your stereotypes may be full filled.

Heck now that it is mentioned,
There is a pro- patroler on our crew who regards contemporary equipment as "para-spastic" and refuses to even try "shaped skis" .
He just "upgraded " his Flexions by purchasing another 10 year old pair from "a buddy". But, I think he may have been abusing the dumpster picking ordinance.

Come to think of it though, I have never even heard tell of him "falling"!!

And hey. There is nothing wrong with Nevada heels!

post #29 of 48
Originally posted by JohnH:
...(B) who is a total ripper, but only moderately motivated to teach (motivations are likely to be free skiing and the cool jacket),
You just described the average 1st year Aussie instructor. Harsh, yes, but true. Mostly young, they ski like gods, and their eyes glaze over when presented with a guest's skiing problem.

Also, most skiiers up to intermediate level have NO CLUE who is a good skiier and who isn't.
To them, this "ripping" thing is anyone going faster than them, preferably with legs glued together.

Sometimes, people with huge technical knowledge forget just how differently the skiing public views skiing skill. Next time you guys are out with guests, get them to point out who is skiing well, and why. You'll be amazed at what they tell you.
post #30 of 48

Next time you guys are out with guests, get them to point out who is skiing well, and why. You'll be amazed at what they tell you.
Were you able to accurately pick out the gold medal performance in the pairs figure skating at the Olympics?

Juris Vagners, one of the PSIA pantheon of gods, once said, "My great aunt in the nursing home, who has never skied a day in her life, can watch a group of skiers descend a run and pick out the good skiers." In other words, there is a universal signature to skilled performance that even the relatively illiterate readily see.

My guests are very interested in the quality of my skiing because it is what they aspire to. That's a heavy responsibility that I take seriously and devote much time, money, and attention to fulfilling.
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