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Coaching Crackdown at Vail Resorts

post #1 of 265
Thread Starter 
For any and all of you fastmen trying to pull a fast one by "coaching" under the table at a Vail Resorts property, take a look at this in today's Denver Post.
http://www.denverpost.com/ci_14122918

Are people really willing to risk being banned for life for a few $$$? 
post #2 of 265
That's pretty intense! A life time ban + a $5,000 fine?! Glad to see they're stepping up about scammers, but that's harsh! I'd say a 5 or 10 year ban at most would be sufficient to get the point across.
post #3 of 265
"Our big message that we try to get across is that this is for public safety," Dressler said.

what a crock!
post #4 of 265
Lifetime ban at Vail?     How do I sign up?
post #5 of 265
I do know of that kind of thing going on. usually it's pretty stealth. what are the mechanics of proving it? of a person accepting money?
post #6 of 265
I remember a similar story out of Breckenridge last season.  They started banning certain vacation tour companies because their "guides" were helping people learn to ski.
post #7 of 265
They created the rule with public safety in mind. 

Vail wants your vacation money--all of it. If they don't get a cut, they will shake down any non-Vail instructor caught teaching anyone on the hill.
post #8 of 265
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

I do know of that kind of thing going on. usually it's pretty stealth. what are the mechanics of proving it? of a person accepting money?

How is it proved? in a court of law.....beyond a reasonable doubt.

How is evidence gathered? An employee of the resort or an agent with the Forest Service books a lesson and makes payment.
post #9 of 265
Quote:
Originally Posted by MojoMan View Post

They created the rule with public safety in mind. 

Vail wants your vacation money--all of it. If they don't get a cut, they will shake down any non-Vail instructor caught teaching anyone on the hill.


 

Shake Down? Hmmmmm.........I have a better idea. Just slash the tires of the offending coach.
post #10 of 265
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy View Post




How is it proved? in a court of law.....beyond a reasonable doubt.

How is evidence gathered? An employee of the resort or an agent with the Forest Service books a lesson and makes payment.
It's easy to pinpoint the non-Vail instructors.  They are the ones not wearing official Vail employee helmets..
Vail instructor:


Non-Vail instructor left hung out to dry
post #11 of 265
 For $675 a day for private lessons and $130 per for a group lesson, it's worth getting busted...
post #12 of 265
So if I give my wife advice in return for favors can I be banned?
post #13 of 265
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryel View Post

"Our big message that we try to get across is that this is for public safety," Dressler said.

what a crock!

I'm pretty sure the rule was originally drafted with guides/coaches of backcountry pursuits in mind.  And yes, in that light it makes lots of sense to require registered and permitted guides to protect public safety.

The problem with setting policy is how to do it in a way that is consistent and difficult to challenge in court.  How do you define frontcountry vs. backcountry in a way that will stand up in court?  And why would the USFS even bother, as the overwhelming majority of its management is counsidered backcountry? So the USFS just uses a simple blanket rule.

The real culprits are the resorts.  I seriously doubt the forest rangers are out nabbing unregistered ski instructors.  They could care less...  unless the corporate muscle of Vail Inc. (who pays a lease) is brought down upon the USFS to enforce their own rules, or allow Vail Inc. to do so in their stead.
post #14 of 265
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarzan View Post

So if I give my wife advice in return for favors can I be banned?

Seriously flawed question.
post #15 of 265
Quote:
Originally Posted by DtEW View Post



I'm pretty sure the rule was originally drafted with guides/coaches of backcountry pursuits in mind.  And yes, in that light it makes lots of sense to require registered and permitted guides to protect public safety.
 

In Vail's case, I'm pretty sure this policy has absolutely NOTHING to do with backcountry pursuits. This is scammer instructors within the boundaries of the ski area, pure and simple.

In Vail, several of the underground instructors nabbed last season were former resort employees. Many of the instructors had told their clients, if questioned, to deny any financial deal.

"In several cases, we found the client had been coached," Jarnot said. Jason Blevins, The Denver Post

post #16 of 265
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post




In Vail's case, I'm pretty sure this policy has absolutely NOTHING to do with backcountry pursuits. This is scammer instructors within the boundaries of the ski area, pure and simple.

In Vail, several of the underground instructors nabbed last season were former resort employees. Many of the instructors had told their clients, if questioned, to deny any financial deal.

"In several cases, we found the client had been coached," Jarnot said. Jason Blevins, The Denver Post


 

Bob, we're in agreement.  The rest of my post says what you said.  But the problem is that the USFS has a blanket policy (which is not totally unjustified from their perspective) and Vail Inc. is wielding it in a way it wasn't originally intended.

The (sad) reality about gov't policy is, as a sociology specialist friend made clear to me... good policy isn't about anecdotes and case studies, no matter how unfair a given case/situation may seem.  Rather, it is about the broad effects and whether it achieves what it primarily sets out to achieve in the great majority of cases.  Rather impersonal, I know...  but by definition policy is supposed to remove human subjectiveness and whimsy (and external influence) from governmental decisions.
post #17 of 265
Just because someone used to work at a resort does not mean that they are representing themselves as a resort employee. Unless the complaint explicitly states that the instructor did represent themselves as a current resort employee(which it does not), I am not sure how private instruction from an individual other than a resort employee can be considered scamming. Vail has made it clear they do not allow this, but calling it scamming is a bit over-the-top. IMO, of course. 

I can also see a private resort wanting to protect their economic interests by not allowing any paid instruction that is not sanctioned by the resort. But for a resort to say, with a straight face, that the regulation is simply about public safety or avoiding scammers representing themselves as resort employees is absurd, IMO. As already stated, Vail wants your vacation money--all of it. If they find a rival gang member making some loose change on their turf, they will send out a Gambino soldier to rub them out.

Resort may be on land ownded by the USFS and Vail may lease the land and charge people admission to the show. But to tell someone they cannot offer anyone lessons on a paid basis, and then lie about why you won't allow it, is why more than a few folks don't like places like Vail. They want your money--all of it. If they can't get every last dollar that a skier shells out during a visit, they will have a hissy.
post #18 of 265
Thread Starter 
This policy is not only Vail's. The article indicates that the USFS and Vail joined forces to catch the instructors and that providing instruction for a fee violates a federal law.  Vail pays for the use of the land and has a right to enforce the policies. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MojoMan View Post

Just because someone used to work at a resort does not mean that they are representing themselves as a resort employee. Unless the complaint explicitly states that the instructor did represent themselves as a current resort employee(which it does not), I am not sure how private instruction from an individual other than a resort employee can be considered scamming. Vail has made it clear they do not allow this, but calling it scamming is a bit over-the-top. IMO, of course. 

I can also see a private resort wanting to protect their economic interests by not allowing any paid instruction that is not sanctioned by the resort. But for a resort to say, with a straight face, that the regulation is simply about public safety or avoiding scammers representing themselves as resort employees is absurd, IMO. As already stated, Vail wants your vacation money--all of it. If they find a rival gang member making some loose change on their turf, they will send out a Gambino soldier to rub them out.

Resort may be on land ownded by the USFS and Vail may lease the land and charge people admission to the show. But to tell someone they cannot offer anyone lessons on a paid basis, and then lie about why you won't allow it, is why more than a few folks don't like places like Vail.
post #19 of 265
Vail and the USFS joined forces to insure every last penny of vacation money goes to Vail. No doubt, Vail strong-armed USFS, because the USFS has more important things to worry about and likely could care less. I can imagine the eye-rolls by FS workers who were forced into it. It kind of reminds me of Barney Fife chasing Gomer down the street screaming, "Citizen's Arrest !"

I can imagine the after hours conversations-- "I busted a rogue ski instructor for teaching at Vail." Your tax dollars at work.
post #20 of 265
Quote:
Originally Posted by DtEW View Post


  But the problem is that the USFS has a blanket policy (which is not totally unjustified from their perspective) and Vail Inc. is wielding it in a way it wasn't originally intended.

The (sad) reality about gov't policy is, as a sociology specialist friend made clear to me... good policy isn't about anecdotes and case studies, no matter how unfair a given case/situation may seem.  Rather, it is about the broad effects and whether it achieves what it primarily sets out to achieve in the great majority of cases.  Rather impersonal, I know...  but by definition policy is supposed to remove human subjectiveness and whimsy (and external influence) from governmental decisions.
 
I don't know why you think Vail is doing something not intended by USFS policy.  The policy is clearly to lease exclusive rights to use USFS lands for commercial purposes, including ski instruction. The purpose of that policy probably just to maximize lease revenue for the USFS.  Part of enforcing those lease provisions requires preventing others from conducting business on the lands.  It's a straight forward trespassing problem.  There's probably always been under the radar instructors there, but when they become too visible, there has to be a crackdown.
You wouldn't expect Vail to allow you to run a restaurant on the mountain without paying rent, why do you expect them to allow instruction by guys who don't pay the mountain a share of their revenue?

BK
post #21 of 265
BK, I aggree, but the point is that Vail thinks the average visitor is stupid enough to believe the hogwash that it is motivated by safety.

Folks act like Vail or the USFS is losing out on millions of dollars here. If I was the Forest service, I would have mooned them and told them they would get to it later. They have more important issues to deal with and are on the taxpayer’s payroll. I don’t think Vail losing some chump change to a freelance instructor is exactly a priority and does not represent a hazard that threatens the Forests, it’s natural resources, public safety, or interferes with our American way of life. Vail is pissed because they lost some chump-change to a freelance instructor. They then expect the forest service and the taxpayer to care enough to devote taxpayer resources to correcting this issue that effects our future as a nation.  

Vail needs to install coin-operated toilets and then make it illegal to relieve yourself anywhere else within the boundaries of the resort. They can then strong-arm government employees funded by the taxpayer into taking time away from important duties to conduct a 'piss-patrol.' They can then write an article explaining they put in the toilets because pee destroys healthy vegetation and they are worried about deforestation.
post #22 of 265
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer View Post



I don't know why you think Vail is doing something not intended by USFS policy.  The policy is clearly to lease exclusive rights to use USFS lands for commercial purposes, including ski instruction. The purpose of that policy probably just to maximize lease revenue for the USFS.  Part of enforcing those lease provisions requires preventing others from conducting business on the lands.  It's a straight forward trespassing problem.  There's probably always been under the radar instructors there, but when they become too visible, there has to be a crackdown.
You wouldn't expect Vail to allow you to run a restaurant on the mountain without paying rent, why do you expect them to allow instruction by guys who don't pay the mountain a share of their revenue?

BK
 

It's not a trespassing problem, as I'm pretty sure all the illicit instructors are paying for lift tickets/passes that grant them access to the mountain.

I'm also pretty sure Vail can't argue that it violates the lift ticket terms-of-agreement to teach skiing (unless a Vail-certified instructor) on their property, as it would make all those moms-and-dads-and-brothers-and-sister-and-friends yelling at their whoevers to "bend ze knees" all agreement violators.  Any attempt at such wording would be laughed out of court.

I'm also pretty sure that the courts hold substantial enterprises (restaurants, resorts, etc.) to a different standard than individual verbal agreements between two people, which many ski coach/guide & client relationships are.

All this is why Vail went the low route.
post #23 of 265
Thread Starter 
Lift tickets grant you the right to use the lift, not to operate a for profit business. All the friends and families are not operating a ski instruction business on the mountain. Big difference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DtEW View Post

Quote:


It's not a trespassing problem, as I'm pretty sure all the illicit instructors are paying for lift tickets/passes that grant them access to the mountain.

I'm also pretty sure Vail can't argue that it violates the lift ticket terms-of-agreement to teach skiing (unless a Vail-certified instructor) on their property, as it would make all those moms-and-dads-and-brothers-and-sister-and-friends yelling at their whoevers to "bend ze knees" all agreement violators.  Any attempt at such wording would be laughed out of court.

I'm also pretty sure that the courts hold substantial enterprises (restaurants, resorts, etc.) to a different standard than individual verbal agreements between two people, which many ski coach/guide & client relationships are.

All this is why Vail went the low route.
 
post #24 of 265
I can see this from the former instructors perspective, you work for years to build a strong core clientele base. You the instructor generate large revenuses for the ski school and arguably not an equitable split for yourself . You become friends with these people, and its a win - win, they get you as their instructor and pay a good bit less and the instructor makes more money.

But, the skiers are coming to Vail to ski and Vail owns the ski school and the facilities being used. If the same instructors could poach the same clientele to come ski with them at another mountain, where ever that might be that would allow an independent instructor to use their facilities , well and good.

That isn't likely to happen. Its Vail's sand box no skimming allowed.
post #25 of 265
Thread Starter 
I am not sure why people are so upset about the enforcement of the USFS policies. You can't take your hot dog cart into Coors Field and sell your hot dogs cheaper than the vendors who contract with the owner of the stadium to sell their products.  Vail is in business to make money as most corporations are.  They have the lease, do the upkeep on the infrastructure, hire the employees etc. Why should some non-employee coach reap the benefit of all of this? 

There is also the issue of liability. If a student gets hurt at a resort because of the negligence of the resort instructor, there is some recourse for the injured student.  What if a student is hurt because of the negligence of the freelance "instructor" who has no liability insurance?  
post #26 of 265
Does this all mean that if I go to Vail, and meet a bear up there who happened to offer me advice, and give me some tips on my skiing, that they might think we are scamming and both of us get removed?  Just curious.

Did the people who WERE scamming ruin it for everyone to receive any instruction?  If people WERE doing what good 'ol Bob Peters pointed out, then I agree with this move to protect instructors' livelihood.  However, I would be one to, if I were struggling on a certain day, seek out a rippin skier on the mountain and offer him 10 or 20 bucks to follow me down the mountain once or twice to see if he could help me out.

On a tangent, you can ski Vail without buying a lift ticket, correct?  I mean, the lift ticket is JUST to use the lifts right?  If you wanna hike up, can they stop you (especially if while hiking you are a "risk to public safety" as I'm sure they would put it)?
post #27 of 265
Just a few observations:

- A Forest Service permit isn't quite a lease, though it has some similarities.

- The Forest Service does care about this stuff, often a great deal. Among other things: the way a FS permit works, monetarily, is that the FS gets a percentage of all the money that people collect from commercial activities at the area. When you pay for a lesson at the ski school run by the resort, a percentage of that goes to the FS. If there's a non-resort-run ski school (as there is at some areas), it should be operating under a concession agreement between the ski school and the resort, which also requires the ski school to cough up a percentage of gross income to go to the FS.  While Forest Service behavior seems to vary from National Forest to National Forest, they are often quite vigilant about cracking down on anything that looks remotely like un-permitted commercial activity. Indeed, I've seen them go beyond what the relevant statute and regs allow (demanding that photographers pay for permits, for example).

- In addition to money, FS officials do often get fairly wound up about "public policy" questions, such as making sure ski teachers have some vague qualifications and are subject to supervision.

- If Vail is "forcing" FS officials into doing anything, they've got a very different relationship with the Forest Service than I've seen. Forest Service personnel can certainly be cooperative with ski area operators (or not), but they do not look kindly upon anyone who tries to force them to do anything (unless he's got an office in Washington DC, and then only a really big one in one of the Senate office buildings or the Department of Agriculture).
post #28 of 265
Didn't this happen at Steamboat a few years back? Maybe that was just one particular person, rather than a bunch of them.

I remember people posting on here every so often, looking for an under-the-table instructor. I always wondered if they were for real, or trying to catch someone.
post #29 of 265
The resort operates a "concession". And the concession, like any other concession arrangement allows exclusive use. It would not be in a  resort's best interests if the FS sold multiple concessions to the same place, or allowed unpermitted concessions to use the same space.

Likewise, the resort can exclude you from hiking the terrain. Their concession grants exclusive rights to the land, not just the lifts.
post #30 of 265
As far as it being Vail's sandbox -- no it's not. It's our sandbox-- the US taxpayer. Vail corp paid the government for a commerical permit to erect the lifts and build establishments to support a commerical enterprise. 

I was not implying that Vail does not have a right to enforce the contract a skier aggreed to by purchasing a lift ticket. The contract states that one cannot enter the area as a pay-for-hire instructor. Also, someone who aggrees to the contract has the legal and ethical obligation to follow it.

I simply wonder how fiscally responsibile it is for the FS, or any government agency, to give priority to invetigating such petty offenses--and they are petty. We have serious issues to deal with. Someone making some chump change at Vail as a clandestine instructor is not one of these serious issues. It's not exactly going to disrupt the economy or global trade. Let Vail deal with it, not the US taxpayer.

As far as the reidiculous explanation by Vail that this was all motivated by safety concerns, it's a matter of, "Don't pee on my head and tell me it's raining." If Vail was really concerned about visitor safety, they certainly wouldn't have visitiors hanging upside-down from chairlifts by their gnads because of the incompetance of their lift oeprators.

I think it's obvious that I don't like Vail.  Actually, I love the terrain but loathe the atmosphere. It's really not just about the expense. Skiing is expensive nowadays wherever you go. It is simply irritating. The whole atmosphere always reeks of being phoney and fake.  The best I can liken it to is going to a five-star restraunt and being served a stellar five-course meal with plastic utensils and paper plates. On your way out, they hit you with a surcharge for the plastic utensils. 
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