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Took My Second Lesson Ever

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
My wife and I decided to have a ski vacation this week and try three mountains that we have never tried.

We skied at Loon on Monday and Attitash/Bear Peak on Tuesday in NH.

Then we went to Sugarbush, VT for the next three days.

The only lesson I have ever taken was the first time I ever got on skis 3 seasons ago and I only ski about 15-20 days a year except last year when I blew my knee out.

I signed up both of us for group lessons and figured that on a Wednesday we would get a private anyway.

The instructors asked us some questions at the bottom and then had a quick ski evaluation on a blue run.

My wife and I got placed in a level 7 lesson, an older guy at a 5, and a younger kid for just bumps although he didn't really ski at an advanced level yet. We all had our own instructors so it was sweet to have just my wife and me with one instructor.

Then as we were at the top of the lift they had to combine our group with the younger bumper because someone signed up for a lesson and was late. As far as I was concerned that was tough shit for him showing up late when all of us were there 30 minutes earlier. So our instructor took the young kid into our group.

Our instructor had only been teaching for 5 years and started skiing when he was 38. He used to play hockey so I assume he picked it up pretty quickly.

He gave me some good tips like sticking my uphill knee into the hill to help follow through a carve. He also pointed out my wife's tendency to narrow her stance in the middle of a turn.

Other then these two points I knew everything else from reading books and reading posts here. He was actually impressed with how much I understood about the mechanics of skiing.

I was kind of disappointed that he didn't tell my wife or me how to specifically fix some aspects of our skiing.

Some of this was probably due to him speeding through the lesson and us taking 3 bumps runs down a narrow black run that had soft bumps. I was happy to pick up some pointers on the bumps but would have liked more focus on angulation, turn initiation, and not skidding the end of a turn.

He told us to aim for the tops of bumps instead of the ruts, which I have never heard before. He showed how you can pivot easily into a new line with your tips and tails in the air. He also stressed to have tips contact almost all the time, have your hands up, reach for a pole plant, and compress your legs but I already knew all that. I just needed someone to tell me what I was doing wrong to get me to do all of these at the same time

I felt like the young kid didn't get what he asked for and I also thought that the instructor should have paid more attention to us actually skiing as he was ahead of us skiing very fast about 90% of the time.

Although the lesson wasn't what we expected, we improved our skiing by skiing for 5 days straight, which I have never done, and using some of the tips our instructor gave us.

My wife and I spent most of today on bumps runs that we would have never tried a week ago so I feel like our skiing has improved and hopefully we can continue to improve.

I really liked Sugarbush overall but we still stayed away from Castrock Peak because some of that terrain is really expert stuff.

[ February 13, 2004, 04:11 PM: Message edited by: Scalce ]
post #2 of 17
It's hard sometimes to give people what they came for...we are todl "less is more" but I tend to err by loading people up with too much, giving them too many things, covering too much.
I had a guy the other day who at the start of the lesson said he was just after one big thing to work on, so that sharpened me up a bit and made me target everything we did at that one thing. But I had another person who kept asking for more stuff, he evidently wanted to load up the lesson with lots of stuff, so I was most happy to oblige, and wrote him out some homework also.
But many instructors are taught to not overload people with stuff, so if you want more, ask for it!
post #3 of 17
Scalce --

I'm in my 4th season of skiing, have taken a number of lessons during that time, and had that same experience too often. I've read half a dozen books on skiing and innumerable hours reading the threads in this forum so often feel like I know it all at a theoretical level and need someone to help translate into reality.

I've given up on individual private lessons and have decided to use only extended (half or full day) 1:1 or semi-private lessons with top, recommended instructors or taking ski camps. My best learning experience so far was a 2-day Master the Mountain course for intermediate skiers @ Gore Mtn in NY State. By skiing continuously for two days, the instructors were able to give me great feedback on what I was actually doing, what I should be doing, exercises/drills to help get me there, and continous feedback on how I was doing towards the end goal (not as close as I thought). Also did some video - that was interesting as your self-perception is very different than reality. There was a big jump in my skiing ability after those two days. I'm going to do some extended private lessons with one of the epic ski pros in my area this season and we've been exchanging email on this, so I think we'll really be in synch when we hit the snow together. Might be an option for you too.

Boston isn't that far (by Western US standards) from Gore Mtn, so here's the info from the Gore site on the same clinic for 2004. I'd skied 30 days when I took the course, they sorted everyone out and I was in the intermediate group. Note that it isn't really very expensive either. The teaching was excellent.

2-Day Clinics
The following clinics offer two full days of specialized instruction including on-hill coaching, video analysis, and technical sessions, lift tickets, and breakfasts and lunches. Advanced reservations required.
$195, $145 for passholders.

Master the Mountain
For intermediate and advanced skiers to build confidence on more
difficult terrain including steeps, bumps, ice, and more.
January 24-25; February 28-29.
post #4 of 17

I have been a ski instructor for 5 seasons. I have been a student for 6 seasons. [img]smile.gif[/img]

Instruction (of anything) is not easy. There are teaching styles and learning styles. Sometimes these things clash. Often group learning environments mix people with different skills, needs, and wants. The instructor must give people what they seek and the learner must communicate what they want and are able to do to the instructor. It's a two-way street.

Furthermore - LEARNING is a process:
1. acquiring knowledge is the first part (through verbal instruction, reading, watching, etc)
2. processing knowledge is the second part (through discussion or physically trying things)

YOU WILL NOT LEARN ANYTHING NEW until you have spent time acquiring and processing skills. If your expectation is to *LEARN* a lot of new skills in a 1.5 hour group lesson, then you're setting your instructor (any instructor) up for failure.

I must confess that it disheartens me to read "I already knew everything... from reading books and this website...". YOU KNOW EVERYTHING? : I know I am being a bit too literal here, and somewhat taking that quote out of context.... further, I am offering my opinion:

Scalce, if you feel like you're a very good skier, on an accelerated learning curve, and you're frequently disappointed with the instruction you receive... I challenge you to look inward to find your solutions. All too often we are our own worst enemies when it comes to learning. My best *WOW* moments in skiing have come from times when I stopped thinking and just threw myself into something different.

I teach a woman's clinic and I reinforce the following ground rules all the time:

1. Trust the instructor and REALLY give yourself to the new concept

2. Speak up... no one can read minds. If you don't say something then you didn't give the instructor the opportunity to give you what you're looking for

3. Ski instruction uses EXERCISES that are not examples of "good skiing"... they are used to help you FEEL something new...

4. There is no one formula to being a good skier - skiing is dynamic (the physical terrain and conditions change all the time, the skier's mood and physical fitness change, etc)

Finally, Scalce... this forum is populated by a lot of instructors. It's sometimes hard to accept professional criticism from someone as inexperienced as yourself. I remind you that you have only been skiing a few years and that you have only ever taken TWO lessons. Please don't be so quick to judge instructors/instruction without giving it a REAL go.

thanks and good luck!! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Kieli I am not sure what your problem is but first let me say that you should read my post again and not post in caps as it is very rude.

I posted this just to show what my lesson was like.

I thought my instructor was very skilled for only teaching for 5 years and I really enjoyed my lesson.

I posted that I knew everything else that the instructor was going over. He was going over some very basic skiing techniques that I was familiar with. I have never said that I am an expert or that I know everything.

I was very verbal during the entire lesson and I did everything that the instructor asked me to do.

After every drill he told me I was doing very well and at the end of the lesson he said he already saw improvement in my skiing just from those 2 hours.

I do not think my post criticizes this instructor or instructors on the whole. I was just posting about my experience and what I liked and disliked about my lesson. I think I have the right to do so.

I value the input on this board and enjoy posting here but I think you are way off base.

[ February 15, 2004, 07:00 PM: Message edited by: Scalce ]
post #6 of 17
Originally posted by kieli:
Finally, Scalce... this forum is populated by a lot of instructors. It's sometimes hard to accept professional criticism from someone as inexperienced as yourself.
Wow, I would think that you would like feedback from all students whether they have only been skiing a day or if they've been skiing for 20 years. How else would you know as an instructor if you're effective or not?

With that being said, Scalce's post did not personally criticize the instructor. Basically, what he said was that the lesson did not meet his expectation as it did not fit his learning style, not that the lesson was bad.

We (I'm his wife) took an advanced lesson so discussing basic skiing techniques for 15 - 20 minutes slopeside was not necessary for us (not bad - just not necessary) which we explained to the instructor and our 13 yr old group mate only wanted to ski! As Scalce mentioned we really wanted someone to critique our style of skiing and give us pointers on how to ski more technical. Next time, we will articulate this clearer to the ski instructor. And if it's not possible b/c of the group size than we will take a private lesson.

And even if we thought the instructor was sub-par (not that we did) we would never let that effect the way we think about instruction. That would be like saying you won't go for your MBA because your undergrad Macro-Economics professor sucked! [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #7 of 17
Scalce, I've really enjoyed reading about the progress that you and Xrisi have been making. I also completely understood the point you were making with this specific post.

One of the instructors at the Academy thought that the students were all ski instructors. The average ski student usually does not have the ability to explain the nuances of the sport with the same sort of clarity as many epicski participants. When you said "you knew everything else," I took it to mean that you had a comprehension of the mechanics. I did not think you were implying that you thought you were a super skier.

I can really identify with this! You understand what the problems are. Now you need a solution. Too often I've been in classes where an instructor says something like "your'e in the backseat." That in itself was never helpful. It was not until I started taking lessons with instructors who post on this forum that I was abale to fix the problem, at least to some degree.

Unfortunately, much of ski instruction takes its influence from the resort management. Convince them that they are great, so that they buy season passes, property, etc. So many ski students just want to sski harder terrain, so the instructors just give the what they want.

But this does not make things easy for people like you and xrisi, who are really concerned with improvement.

When I first started skiing, I used to take lessons all the time. Part of it was a safety issue, since I used to get this weird vertigo thing when I got off the lift.

I am first beginning to realize that by being a "promiscuous" lesson taker, I have a lot of incorrect info stored in my mind. A few gems:
If you get scared, traverse from end to end.

Initiate your turns as if you were Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday to JFK! :

Initiate your turnns by leaning your shoulder down the hill.

And don't get me started on hockey stops!

Nowadays, there are a few local instructors I like. But the bulk of my lesson funds goes to the academy, where not only am I guaranteed a greata lesson, I cana keep talking about it on the forum. Another option is to use the Epicski Instructor listing in the small print at the top of this page.

Keep at it. You seem to have a very natural aptitude. You and xrisisi will be great skiers one day! [img]graemlins/angel.gif[/img]
post #8 of 17
Great points, xrisisi! Its the less experienced lesson takers that the instructors need to "hook." If they are offended by their feedback, they should not whine about why people don't take lessons!
post #9 of 17
I view the role of the instructor a bit differently than kieli: I think it is incumbent upon the instructor to identify the motivation, understanding, and movements of the students and then to facilitate change based on that. This maps directly to the GCT model of the PSIA-RM, but that's not why I believe it. I believe it because first, the instructor is being paid to provide a service and second because communication is the primary responsibility of the sender, not the receiver.

When one is being paid to provide a service, it is incumbent upon the provider to carefully determine the service expected from the provider. In business relationships, this is codified in a Service Level Agreement (SLAs) and uses Service Level Objectives (SLOs) as the goals. The relationship between a ski instructor and pupil is no different, and, again, it is the responsibility of the instructor to determine the SLOs for the lesson. Questions like, "So, if you are able to establish your edge earlier in the turn, will you feel like we've been successful?" or "If you are more comfortable on the headwall of Challenger at the end of the lesson, will we have been effective?" are designed to clearly identify the objectives and, effectively, the completion criteria (CC) (CC answer the question, "When have we accomplished what we set out to do?"). Of course, the better the student paticipates in the discussion and the more they understand, the easier the job for the instructor. Regardless, however, it does not remove the responsibility from the instructor to find those SLOs and CCs.

Similarly, it is always the responsibility of the communicator to ensure understanding. In skiing, there are a number of ways to measure understanding, including whether or not the student does what you think you told them, how they respond to questions, how they move their body as you discuss various concepts, and so on. Again, however, it is the responsibility of the instructor to check for understanding and be certain that the message has been received ungarbled. This usually means asking questions in a different way to make sure that the concepts and not simply the words have been received.

I have heard some pretty lazy "check for understanding" questions: "Does that make sense?" "Know what I mean?" "OK?" When we ask these questions, we have to realize that we are not actually asking anything, and the likelihood of us getting useful answers are quite low. Instead, ask a question that forces a response that shows understanding: "So, given what we just discussed, how do you think you could _________?"

[ February 15, 2004, 08:12 PM: Message edited by: ssh ]
post #10 of 17
Ah but Steve - my instructor asks that every season & gets annoyed because my aim is simply to ski better [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #11 of 17
Originally posted by disski:
Ah but Steve - my instructor asks that every season & gets annoyed because my aim is simply to ski better [img]smile.gif[/img]
Then, your instructor (hopefully) works to understand what you mean by "better," right? Like, "So, disski, if you are able to carve RR track medium radius turns top-to-bottom on that slope over there, will you be 'skiing better?'" "As a result, will you think that we've been successful?" If you're talking about an entire season, I don't know that it's actually possible to get a clear set of SLOs. But, taking it day-by-day, I bet that your instructor can do it.

It's not easy to do! But, it is the role of the service provider to do it!
post #12 of 17
Actually steve - I let the instructor set the daily agenda.... he dislikes this sometimes..... I just have to remind him that from my point of view I put my life in his hands daily - so deciding ski goals is a minor decision.

& for the season - I have little idea how I actually ski (or so I'm told) - I see myself as barely competent on skis. So I would NEVER set myself the expectations that my instructor sets. I have only just decided that the race-course no longer looks scarey & I might learn something there. The race guys are apparently all impressed at how well I do considering how I started out.

I believe I am going to bite it big time everytime we head off-piste in anything that is at all fresh... I would never set skiing some of the off-piste stuff as a goal... Yet every season we do & the guys have to tell me how much EASIER I am doing it every year...

Ask Ant - she has skied with me in a lesson.
I am told my 'vision' of my skiing does not match the reality.
post #13 of 17
Originally posted by ssh:
Like, "So, disski, if you are able to carve RR track medium radius turns top-to-bottom on that slope over there, will you be 'skiing better?'"
Actually - at one point my aim was simply to "get down" that slope over there... It was my instructor who decided I was going to ski like everyone else - & just as well...
If he had told me this straight out I would have had him consigned to a mental institution.... At that point in time my previous instructor had given up on me telling me I had severe fear issues & needed to see a sports psychologist or something... It was my current instructor who thought to ask WHY the stuff that scared me was so worrying... some he could fix - some not... but having the more common stuff under control left me room to work at slowly confronting the other stuff...
post #14 of 17
I have the funny feeling that we're in violent agreement!

Your instructor takes on the role of exceeding your expectations. That's the ideal approach of a service provider! And it keeps you coming back for more success.

If you have an ISP that promises 90% availability and makes sure to keep it to 90% by turning off the lights for the last two days every month, I don't think you'd be very happy! But, when it's available 100%, you don't necessarily know that they are exceeding your SLA.

The point is, whether spoken or not, your instructor understands what you need from the lessons and continuously works to exceed them. It sounds like your instructor is doing it exceptionally well.
post #15 of 17
Yep - he is a star instructor!

He does have a huge ego - but luckily a big heart to match - so it is easy to overlook the ego crap - besides he turns it off mostly for me & it only shows up with new people around.

I have watched over the years as he works with Starlight Foundation kids & talented racers... every person receives what they need

I think it helps that he grew up on snow & spent young years taking people out on xc skis...
he now ski instructs having given up his business life because he was earning lots but hated his lifestyle...
His best quote is when we sit on the chair on a blue sky day & he will say "I love my office"
post #16 of 17
You have found a ski instructor with a big ego?!?! No way!

And a big heart? Actually, most of the instructors I've met worth their salt have a big heart, too.. Awesome, ain't it? :

...and I think you should be one soon, disski! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #17 of 17
Originally posted by ssh:

...and I think you should be one soon, disski! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
Well it looks like not this season....for various reasons...

& I am too old to go to USA on a J1... so it will have to be next season...
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