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Skier Retention; How Can We Help? - Page 2

post #31 of 58

Yeah, that's the scenario.

That's why I suggested that the distinction between cert levels (or no cert) be stated at ski school desks, and customers asked which level cert instructor they would like, and that the cost reflect the cert level. It would force people to take notice and get at least the most basic education. Yet, the general concensus that I got in response, is that people would not be willing to pay more for higher cert instructors. I completely disagree. The other problem is the lower volume of cert instructors on the hill. But I think that the laws of supply and demand, and prices (and pay) set accordingly, would work that issue out. For example, if you don't have enough level 3 certs, you raise the price to weed out the folks who are willing to pay for the short supply. I think it would also allow instructors to see the potential of making a living wage at teaching skiing, therefore, lowering instructor turnover and increasing their willingness to train and attain higher certs.
post #32 of 58

Stoopid question... is there much correlation between PSIA cert level and the quality of instruction you're likely to receive? Asked differently, do the tests weed out people with poor communications skills and such or do they just weed out people who have "flaws" in their skiing skills?
post #33 of 58
not johnH but
my limited experience looking for instructors, is that the cert3 instructors are better. Maybe you touched on it, the lesser communicators get weeded out. From what I understand the level 3 cert requires teaching experience as well as showing the examiners you know how to "teach" It includes movement analysis and experience as well. Not just skiing ability. By the way, I understand that at level 3 cert you have to be able to demonstrate flawed skiing movements as well as how to correct it (PSIA certs and examiners correct me if I'm off base)<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by dchan (edited July 06, 2001).]</FONT>
post #34 of 58
Geoff and dchan,

While I've never heard of anyone (in the Eastern division) being asked to demonstrate flawed technique, I don't doubt that any L3 cert candidate would be able to do it.

The L2 and L3 exam consist of 3 main parts; skiing, teaching, and professional knowledge. Just being a good skier will only get you through 1/3 of the exam, and you need to pass all 3 parts. Not only that, but you need to be able to demonstrate specific "demos" in the skiing portion of the exam. Even a hot skier who does not know exactly what they are doing and why, will probably not be able to do the demos correctly, and may not pass the exam because of that.

The teaching and technical parts of the exam consist of a written exam, a video analysis (answers in writing), and on hill evaluation by 3 examiners, in which you are asked to teach any number of things to any level of student (depending on the cert level exam - a Level 2 candidate will not be asked to teach the very upper levels). Everything from demonstrating your exercises correctly, to proper communication and safety are evaluated.

These exams are 3 days long (or more - in the east, the skiing portion of the exam is 2 days, then the teaching, prof. knowl. portion is another 3 days). Each of the 3 sections will be done with 3 examiners, and you need to pass 2 out of the 3 examiners in all three portions to get the pin. It's no easy feat for the unprepared.

The general guidlines are that you need to have at least 150 hours of teaching beofre taking the L2, and 300 for the L3 exam, and your ski school director must sign your application for the exam, which means that they will feel that you are ready to take it. The exams, as any exams are, are simply an affirmation of what you know and what you can do. You shouldn't be going to an exam to try to gain a pin. You should go to collect what is rightfully yours. However, this is not reality, and only 35% of L3 candidates pass the exam (50% for L2)
post #35 of 58
I guess I knew it wasn't "flawed" movements but skills from different parts of the Centerline model/skiing skills. thanks for that note.
post #36 of 58
The answer!!!!!
Ski Camps.
Round them up.
Lock them in.
Make them march up & down the square.
Only let some family members out to make money enough to pay for it.
Then it will be handed down, generation to generation, like alcoholism or abuse.
We've got them now...

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro...
post #37 of 58
Thread Starter 
I have seen some of the PMTS instructors also sporting PSIA pins and proud of them both. To be certified at any level, a person should be proud to wear the pins.

post #38 of 58
I wear both of mine. The only people who react are certain instructors and supervisors... LOL!



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[This message has been edited by SnoKarver (edited July 06, 2001).]</FONT>
post #39 of 58

Ski schools do have to maintain a certain %age of PSIA members on staff to maintain PSIA Member Ski School status. I'm not certain what exactly that %age is. It is not certification related, only active-dues-paying-member related.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro...
post #40 of 58
Roto, as I understand it (it may be different in the NW or with all those concession schools...last count around 27?), but all you need is one gold...period. And he/she doesn't even have to be fulltime.
Oh yeah....and $70, the same G*Dd*man dues you pay, to be a member school! (the dues is one of my pet bitches with Div and Nat. I have fought for years to increase resort's burden.) The membership requirements should include, a % of cert (as you stated), mandatory training hrs./per instructor...and have a healthy dues based on skierdays, or lessons taught or #of instructors...it don't!
$70 and a III pin...hey roto, you could be one of those concession schools all by your self.
If you are up there, say hi to R. Nova for me!
post #41 of 58

I think the count is over 30, but it's hard to keep track.
Most of them are running pretty scared these days. The resident ski school is no longer a concession, having been taken in by area management as of last season. (do you know Andre?).
Many of the concession owners are certain that spells doom for the rest of them. We'll seee what happens. I will say hi to R. Nova. But from who? Roto@epicski.com
post #42 of 58
Pierre eh?

If it goes that way...... loose one client (me), and gain another.

I don't even like the sound of snow guns but if I hear rap (or anything)...... I'm solid gone.

The sociologist in me reserves the right to say that I like all cultures..... as long as they are quiet ones.
post #43 of 58
>>The sociologist in me reserves the right to say that I like all cultures..... as long as they are quiet ones.<<

Quiet Cultures . . . but . . . . you live in NJ!? (ducking and running)
post #44 of 58
Bob, that has essentially been our fear all along. I remember a long, but memorable bar session with Tom L., Dogger and others discussing dues etc. The concensus was if the product recognition rose, PSIA lessons would become a commodity and membership an asset. The fear that ASC, Vail or others would bail is real. But seriously, why should Sipapu NM and Breckenridge pay the same dues. Pick an indice and a reasonable fee (oh, like something more than I pay to be a dual division member) and tie the fee to some tangible benefits...clinic events, portfolios, marketing etc. Kinda like franchising!
post #45 of 58
Pierre eh! says:
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Yah know given the demographics from the SAM report maybe we are looking at this thing from the wrong direction. Maybe the Freeze/Powder mag guys got it right.
Increase the size of the terrain parks but design them so the speed decrease. Provide spectator areas in the parks with wind blockage. Design in parkside food consessions for maximum exposure Bring in the boom boxes with the Rap music.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Killington had a half-pipe event last season called "Brooklyn, Vermont". I got a huge laugh from the irony of a bunch of white affluent brats gathering in rural Vermont pretending to be NYC ghetto people. Somehow, I don't think that's the future of the sport.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by GeoffD (edited July 09, 2001).]</FONT>
post #46 of 58
Kind of an apocalyptic view of the future...it is alive in southern California where surf meets skate meets snow...it's all good. We have over 70% snowboarding here.
One night while administering an employee free lesson session, a woman came up to me in distress. She explained that she had had her goggles ripped off her face. When I took her to guest services, I met three other women who had been likewise assulted on the hill by a marauding group of boarders, one had lost a significant amount of hair! The one hill equivilant of purse snatching! All new to me! I had never witnessed this "culture" before.
Marketing to niches will reap reward and disapointment alike. The ethnic market however can be a gas and is ripe for exploitation. The NBS and other groups are rightfully demanding their place in the snowsport family. Incidently, the goggle snatchers were white.
post #47 of 58
Punks are punks, no matter what color, or kind of rider. I really like the NBS group. What a riot they are! Good students and clients.

I really miss the "regular folks" demographics of the midwest. It is a little less expensive, sure. But one thing that really helps build new skiers, is those little areas that ROCK... and have night skiing. A skier can go at night, instead of the excersize club, or the bar, or just couch surfing. Still go to school, or have a job. It's how I got hooked.

One of the best things about terrain parks, is that skiing IS cool again. Twin-tip rippers that ski bumps and the park are getting more common. When I ask these rippers if they ride (snowboards) a lot of them are saying they used to, but they can do more on skis. Especially bumps.

Hey what's down this run? SnoKarver
post #48 of 58
SoCal is definitely one of the epicenters of terrain park mania. The best in the the pipes 'n parks are the twin tippers, hucking huge! Most are exriders, and I have spent a few humourous clinics explaining pole use and zipperline tactics.
One of the best and most lucrative weeks I have had was with the NBS summit in Purg. James Brown live at the pajama party and all day requests. They literally take over the resort and have a blast. They truly have arrived!
post #49 of 58
I'm all for anything that injects new enthusiasm into the sport we all love! Terrain parks are fun. As far as their "gansta' wanna be attitude" - well every generation has been just as radical compared to the previous . . . and then they all get materialistic, get a business degree, turn into real estate salespeople, stockbrokers and such . . . and become boring real human beings by and large just like most folks have. Then in 15 years they suddenly see the new "radical kids" out there thinking they are the first ones to set the world on fire!
post #50 of 58

I live in western NJ..... from from the Turnpike and Parkway...... mostly cows and corn but, that's changing fast.

I wish....... things went differently but I make the most of what I've got.

Funny thing.... I see so many NJ cars with VT and NH decals on the bumper. How come VT'ers don't have NJ and NY decals?? That shows where (NJ'ers) would live if they could. Must piss off the locals when they see this.
post #51 of 58
On a serious and thematic note...... how can we retain....

There are two forces acting on the ski industry, one is hashed over and debated and fine tuned (check out the threads on Hyperchange), and the other is rarely mentioned.

The first is "internal"..... how can we package lessons, how we approach and serve the student, cost of lessons, etc.

The second is external. How skiing is presented in the media at large..... if and when it is presented at all. In the 60's skiing was a cool thing to do. James Bond and the Beatles were all seen on skis. Bonnie Prince Charles (sans Camilla P.B.) was always photo-oped to death every winter along with the Kennedys etc.

Other than the target audience flicks (that's us BTW), like Hotdogs and Warren Miller stuff...... we are old news and like old fish, are being relegated to the dustbin.

The only media attention of note during the past year was that damned Disney film "JOHNNY TSUNAMI", run ad naseum all winter long. the message was ....... BOARDERS = COOL........ SKIS = UPTIGHT NEW ENGLAND.... the culture of the Puritan versus the new wave So. Cal.

My point here is that we "are", in the publics mind, how the media presents us and our future hinges on that presentation that equates to ADVERTISING!

You can argue price and technical points of instruction and interactional analysis all you want...... but, without that engine of positive public exposure......... ????

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[This message has been edited by yuki (edited July 09, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by yuki (edited July 09, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by yuki (edited July 09, 2001).]</FONT>
post #52 of 58
Yuki, that makes me think of what JR said about myself and d-chan representing two sides of what the PSIA should focus on in teacher development.
D-chan represents the technical, hard facts, and I {according to JR} represent the human interpersonal element. She has the opinion
that if teachers sway too much in either direction, they will be ineffective, and to maintain student interest, there needs to be a balance of both.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #53 of 58
That is so right on Lisamarie, I really appreciate JR's idea on that balance. Learn lots from both sides, teach somewhere in the middle, as appropriate for each student.

yuki... What if Lenny Kravitz ripped the powder on skis? Or Adam Sandler did a ski movie about a newbie liftie called "Gaper-Boy"? Ricky Martin a humpin' in da bumps? Madonna doing Suzy Chafee moves on skiboards? Eminem in the half pipe, flashing grafitti off the bottom of his board. Oh, that would be great!

Skiing was pretty cool in the 70's too. The days of Jean Claude and Spider Sabich. THe early hot-dog days of freestyle were amazing. Remember Wayne Wong's TV commercial for Pepsi? I used to get goose bumps watching that.

Hey maybe MTV should do a "Real World" series in a ski town? That would promote it, wouldn't it?

Well, maybe not. A fellow instructor got "buzzkilled" by MTV a few years ago. I saw it going down on the hill. These guys were skiing in pinstripe suits doing a very bad impression of the stereotyped mob gangsters. She was game, and playing along, till they faked a broken leg. Put her in tears. She was a good sport, but they did push it...

Kids are a big part of getting those numbers up. If we could just get those gameboys out of their hands!

Hey what's down this run? SnoKarver
post #54 of 58
Apropos to the concept of the balance between the human and technical elements of ski instruction. I think ski schools fail radically in the same way fitness centers do when they fail to realize how sensitve their students might be. As I've brought up many times before, I took one lesson at Killington 12 years ago, and swore I would never return to skiing again. Was it the quality of instruction? No. It was the attitude.

Another case in point. Someone who says that they are a Level 3 instructor just responed in a highly condescending way to a fitness thread I wrote in General Skiing. My first reaction was to look at the profile to find out what mountain he taught at in order to make sure I never took a lesson there. As a matter of fact, no matter how skilled that instructor was, I would have very little respect for a mountain who would hire such a person, so I probably would not even ski there, let alone take a lesson.

I'm not saying ski instructors need to be "warm and fuzzy" {nobody would ever describe Todd that way } but arrogance has no place in ANY kind of instructiion.

Anyone who has a proficient understanding of biomechanics, and is a skilled enough athlete can pass a level 3 exam. But to be able to do all that and put a smile on your students face, well that takes a special human being.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence

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[This message has been edited by Lisamarie (edited July 09, 2001).]</FONT>
post #55 of 58
Ok most here have the professional point of view. This is from someone who never taught anything to anyone. Yes skiing can be terribly expensive. For those that feel the price is to high, they will probably never get to the slopes at all. The question is how do you keep those who felt they could at least bear the expense to try it out to come back. Yes perhaps smaller resorts would be better suited to beginners, but lots of people want the “ski experience” that comes from a large resort. They want the whole package, the one on the brochures.

If you are going to the expense and time of a vacation you want and should expect minimal hassle. They are on vacation remember. The number one reason I hear from on former skiing friends is not the expense. It’s the hassle of bringing the family COMBINED with the expense.

Yes quality of instructors is important as well as the size of the class. But before you get to a class the system needs improvement. Have you ever been to the ski school for kids on a busy day? We refer it to ski school hell. This is not relaxing its stressful! Have more staff, less waiting in line. The anxiety level of the kids and parents would lessen. Mom and Dad could go off to their lessons felling better.

Speaking of Mom remember that in most families Mom is making the decision on vacations. Dad may say he wants to go skiing and actually get to go, but mom is choosing the place to go, the place to stay and the place they will ski. This brings up a couple of things. LisaMarie has spoken of her less that professional instructor. I too have had experience with instructors that treat the females different than the males. This sill happens, unbelievable. So alienate mom and you have lost the family, therefore the future skiers. Back to ski school if mom is bringing the kids and it’s a hassle she is less likely to want to repeat this vacation.
post #56 of 58
Kima, please don't say that you have never taught anything to anyone, because what you just said is perhaps the most valuable comment on this thread. I am also getting a strange sense of Deja VU, because what you have said about "alienating mom and losing the whole family" was recently said by the executive VP of the PSIA on her site.

I've been lucky in that I've only had three really bad ski lessons, but sometimes they stand out in my mind much more than the many superb lesson I have taken. And to this day, thinking about them brings tears to my eyes, and any offensive comment by someone who claims to be a ski instructor brings me right back to any of those three lessons, and for the moment, I find myself thinking that I will never, ever take a lesson again, or quite possibly, never ski again.

You mentioned that some instructors simply have no idea of how to teach women. Unfortunately, many of them are the "Sacred Bulls" in the skiing industry. What is worse, any complaints to the SSD will not be reponded to.
This is a very bad idea. I was supposed to organize a ski trip to a New England Resort with one of the fitness centers I work at. But when I did not recieve a reply to the complaint letter I sent about one of their teachers, we chose a different mountain.

What you said about the hassle factor is also very important. Why is it that at many resorts, there is a toll free # for lift and lodging, but the ski school is a pay call? And to top it off, you get an answering machine, and your messages are never returned.
Then they wonder why people don't take lessons.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #57 of 58
Joe Consumer de-cloaking here.
Returning to the original question, my limited skiing experience of three years in the Tahoe area suggests that skier retention is primarily about fun. My Wife and I took the beginner lesson at Sierra-at-Tahoe and were immediately hooked because we had a blast. A friend of ours, however, took a similar lesson and a follow up; but never returned - it just wasn't fun for her. That's just the way some sports are, IMHO.

WRT to lessons, we subsequently learned to ski reasonably well in our first season with Lito's videos - NOT lessons. Paid for a group lesson in our second season (at Sierra) and were disappointed with it - just didn't feel like we learned anything. Subsequently took a free group lesson at Sierra and were delighted - the difference being that the instructor was able to suggest a couple of improvements.
Haven't been back for a lesson since, though, because we're a bit worried about wasting our money again. Bottom line for us is that we're hooked on skiing, but luke-warm about instruction. Know any good teachers at Sierra-at-Tahoe? rick p

PS: We could care less about PSIA versus PMTS - we just want a teacher who can help us have more fun. Have to admit, though, that the PSIA/PMTS debate has been entertaining.
post #58 of 58
Rick p,

Thanks for joining in the conversation, and thanks for the input. I think your reasons for taking and not taking lessons, as well as returning to ski again have got to be what it's all about. After all, it recreation. And not cheap recreation, at that. So we have to make sure the whole experience is fun, and that when you take a lesson, you enjoy it and it's evident to you that you learned something.

Please don't be afraid to contribute more.

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