Here's an excerpt from an email I sent to BobB.
Well, first of all, I do have respect for people like you, who've been in the industry for years. Not because you've been around so long, that means nothing to me. But because you deserve respect. You're making contributions and you really care. So that's great.
But I just hope that people like you, those who've been around a while, recognize the voices, people like me. After all, we don't have anything to refer back to. So, in the case of ski instruction, something that's obvious to us, might not be so obvious to you.
My take on all of this is that the model is broken - I'll never back down from this point of view. I truly believe changes are due. Really, though, what's in it for me? Hey, I just feel that if changes aren't made, we're all going to be paying more to ski. I don't feel that ski instruction by itself is the cause of the ski industry's ills. But, from what I've seen in the past two years, I do feel that the ski school and instruction are key assets to attracting and retaining customers.
I would love to see some independent research done with the goal being to examine ways to attract and retain skiers/riders. I think that the research would prove the importance of the ski school. Then, once everyone knew how important the ski school is, they'd start to focus more of their energy there. Right now, I'm not so sure that executives see the ski school as being that important to the big picture. Do they?
Maybe in the past it wasn't. After all, skiing was much more difficult just a few years ago, wasn't it? If you put me on a pair of straight skis, I'd be lost. But now, with the advances in equipment; shaped skis, alignment, and boots, expert skiing -- defined by Harald or the PSIA, is now attainable for a much broader group of customers. Don't get me wrong, skiing still requires a ton of work and discipline to reach "expert" status. I've worked my butt off and I have an athletic background.
So before, it might have taken me 500 days to get to where I am, instead of 120. That's a huge difference, and, a selling point! This salient point, if I'm right, is cause in and of itself for the industry to take a whole new look at itself. Bob, it could very well be that it's time for an overhaul. If that's the case, so what? It doesn't invalidate the past. It just means what it is - that it's time for a change. What's to overhaul? It could be instruction, the marketing of instruction, the organizational structure, a few things. My professional opinion, as a marketer, is not to single out one aspect and say, "That's it!". It's never that way. I'd look at the big picture.
Look at aerobic sports - running, bicycling, swimming, etc. For years, there was no change. Then all the sudden, triathlons appeared. Cyclists started swimming and runners started cycling. In the mid 80's, triathletes were using aero handle bars, I was one of them. Cyclists laughed at them, said they were a gimmick. You know who Greg Lemond is, right?
In 1989, his second tour, Greg was 2 minutes back from Fignon going into the last day, a 28 mile time trial. No one, thought he could make up the time over that short of distance. Well, Greg shows up with for the time trial with the aero handle bars. He was the only one. Everyone else, including Fignon, had either drop down bars, or bull horn bars - standard time trialing gear. Well, Greg won the time trial. He beat Fignon by 2 1/2 minutes in 28 miles and won the tour by 8 seconds, the closet tour in history. Lemond went on to credit the aero bars for his miraculous performance. Now, Greg was a great time trialist and he probably would have beaten Fignon anyway, but not by as much. The aero bars were truly the difference in him winning the tour.
Aero bars literally rescued a dying sport and gave new life to other aerobic sports. People started doing triathlons, people started buying bicycles again, lap swims became popular again. I also believe that they were the impetus for the advancements in bike technology. Bikes are lighter and faster than they've ever been, mountain biking is popular, technique is talked about more than ever.
I see shaped skis as being the aero bars of skiing. But from what I can see, the ski industry doesn't (you tell me). Now this is where my lack of experience comes in. But when I go to Sol Vista and I see fat ladies skiing parallel in one day, then I go to Copper (as an example) and I see the same fat ladies being taught wedge turns, it kills me! The same with kids. I see kids being taught wedge turns at Copper. I go to Sol Vista and those same kids are skiing parallel in one day. This to me, just says that the industry is killing itself and that there's no hope.
Say what you want about HH and I'll probably agree to most of what you say, but, you can't argue with what's taken place. There are...(lots - hundreds? thousands?) of skiers who rave about his "system". I've talked to at least 50 of them personally. My kid is a shining example. When we ski at Copper, everyone thinks he's been on skis for years. He's skied 15 days. As a business man, I can truly tell you that the proof of concept is there. Look at the book sales, video sales, and testimonials from skiers and instructors. You know, I've yet to hear a negative comment a PSIA instructor that went through the classes. But, I hear lots of negative comments from PSIA instructors who've never been to the classes. Hmm. I know the ski industry has seen it's share of fads, and that it can't/shouldn't overreact. But, again, do a study. I'm sure HH would be more than willing to share his data. Find out if there really is something there.
When I say people don't "get it", here's what I mean. Shaped skis have forever changed things just like aero bars did. Aero bars brought new life to an old sport and new life to other sports! The phrase, "Cross training" came as a result of aero bars. Aero bars gave average athletes some hope - that they too could go fast.
It's the same with shaped skis! With shaped skis, I can be great! Don't you see the message? Reinvent your sport! Cold filtered has been in brewing for years. But Miller was the one who capitalized on it.
They're radically different and so is the technique. But, the industry is still debtating their importance and merit! Still debating about what I've said, and wondering about the technique, years later! It just boggles the mind.
I'm a knucklehead. But to me, it's clear as day. To me, the biggest opportunity in years for them to increase their business is right in front of them and they don't do anything about it.
The bottom line is that if something isn't done to increase skiers/boarders, we're all going to be paying a lot more to ski. That, you can count on, folks!
Is that what you guys want? Instead of arguing and bickering, get your butts out there and learn something new! Bob, take a friggin class and report back to Copper! If it really is great, get on it and do it! Aren't you all supposed to be pioneers? Take it upon yourselves to save this business and to be part of it's growth. Be heroes!
That's it for me. I can't do anything else to describe how I feel - without getting paid for it
[This message has been edited by SCSA (edited July 02, 2001).]</FONT>