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i'm sad.. lively discussion nipped in the bud

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
Gee, guys... I'm sorry the word "shit" offends you so. Such was not my intent. Nor did I launch any personal attacks on anyone with my remark: "Ski instructors are not necessary". Certain replies were... well, aimed right at my head. Thought a group of adults could speak on many issues, even emotional ones without mudslinging and name calling. Sorry if I wasn't clear enough in what I was trying to learn. Give this one a chance, though... let me try again.

If you have taken lessons, why? If you haven't why not? What do ski instructors need to do better in your perception? Or is everything A-ok? Do you think ski instruction is worth the money we pay for it?
Is it important to have a "standardized" teaching method?

I had hoped that my remark would have you asking yourselves these questions and others... what do people here really think about ski instruction as a whole? I know this is a group of very wise folks, and I am genuinely dismayed to have offended you with my original post. Just thought I'd light a little fire that I hoped would inspire. Ooops.

So, I hope we might see replies from those of you who call yourself novice or intermediate, because it's really all about you. From the advanced and expert skiers, because you are the ones who tend to scoff at the notion of ski lessons. And from the instructors because you need the job.
post #2 of 45
Gotta ask! Your profile indicates that you are a professional skiier.

What kind?
post #3 of 45
It just occured which thread was missing. If it was the one I'm thinking about, I don't think it was a censor from AC. check out that strange post by lucky.. there must have been a glitch or bug that popped up that caused his post to trash the rest of it.
Usually unless the rest of the thread gets out of hand, AC usually just edits the individual posts or deletes just the offending post not the whole thread.

Try it again and maybe without the harsh words. I was enjoying the remarks.
post #4 of 45
as far as the original question,
Yes, instructors I think are necessary.
Coming from someone who thought they were a level 7-8 PSIA and recently found out closer to a solid 9 as far as skills but maybe not in guts..
With out them I would really be stuck here with no where to go. The turns feel smooth and solid, Why do I need lessons and instructors/coaches? to get that last little bit of carve out of these skis, to move more efficiently and to get that much better.
post #5 of 45

After your great SPEED/"MIND OF STEEL" poem on skiing crud I felt I just owe you, friend, an (big ) input.

I've read somewhere (BobB's encyclopedia?)that motor skill students can be separated into several groups: <UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>a)"thinkers" - they have to understand "the theory" behind whatever they are taught and receive complete verbal explanation before they can do anything <LI>b)"doers" - learning comes primarily from adjusting based on sensations of attempting doing the skills <LI>c) "imitators"(?) - learn by immitation of the skills of others....[/list]- or something like that (if I remember it right)...

I'm the worst kind for motor skill instruction - a "thinker". It makes it harder to learn from "live" instructor - if I make an honest attempt to learn - I know I just frustrate the instructor with my questions and will not get to ski - it's kinda useless to see him ski and it seems whatever he has to say to me I've read it already somewhere... On the other hand if someone just write a book with explanations what to do and how to check for the progress - I "research" it and do it on my own terms... For me to start with a book like Harb's was an ideal situation - instead of kitchen sink of skills - step by step detailed program that leads to anounced goal. So, for "thinkers" - instructors need to write instruction books.

I did take (private) lessons - why? - for a movement analysis and feedback. The problem is that one can't usually see themselves to ski... Actually, I think that after all research I've put in it I'm strong enough in theory of skiing to make my own movement analysis at my level - but I have to see myself first. So, if I had a possibility to order or to make a videotape of myself skiing - I probably wouldn't take these lessons either.
And only if I'd hit the problem I had no explanation for and all my "research" cannot help to solve - only then I'd seek a private lesson - things like mountain guiding, "confidence" building tours - steeps, etc. included...

IMO the high-tech way to serve adult customers like me ("thinkers") in 21st century would be:
<LI>write and sell good instruction books
<LI>set up automated short digital video recording runs park with all level of difficulties and all kind of terrains in all ski areas and sell recording sessions...
<LI>on demand send these videos for paid movement analysis to the experts on the internet - get results as e-mailed report - milesb maybe a pioneer here...
<LI>provide private instruction at advanced/expert levels once with help of above services "thinkers" make it through intermediates
<LI>use the copy of recordings together with bio database to create and market skill/school-uniform groups for those in need to socialize to run guided multi-week group programs for recreation, socializing and instruction based on some additional match-making criteria: age, interests, marital status, etc.[/list]
I think that above services could be useful for other types of students too...

If somebody is interested to run an experimental enterprise I think I could help with running software project

As far the usefulness of standardized instruction goes - I feel what we need is a standard taxonomy of methods - PMTS, GLM, PSIA, whatever - that is understood and shared by instructors and students... Otherwise it would be difficult to establish which school's movement analysis technique should be used. (what's good in one school may be a mortal sin in another). Some umbrella organization probably would be needed to maintain taxonomy and spread awareness of choices in a ski instruction...

Sorry for the long post - hope it does answer some of your questions...

post #6 of 45
Thread Starter 
yuki: people pay money to ski with me, making me a professional skier. It is my full-time job. Quite a good one and one I hope to keep for a long time. I ski with people. Every so often, I laugh at them. Then I make a couple smart-ass remarks and we keep skiing. Yes, I am a ski instructor. And yes, my sense of humor is quite developed, but admittedly off beat.

dchan: I appreciate your support. The element of emotion usually brings a certain spirit to a discussion, but obviously, it can be like gas on a fire, too. Nothin' wrong with a good bonfire sometimes though...as someone on the zapped thread mentioned, if you get handed a lemon, make lemonade. Well, if there's a fire goin' on, lets' roast some weenies!

Anyway, I was just reading another post by JohnH, and without going into details, it seems that this type of situation is universal throughout ski schools in North America. Perhaps not identical, but similar in the bottom line... the ski instructors are expected to provide top-notch service in the presence of management infrastructure which inhibits their ability to do so.

Recently, I have taken steps to remove myself from certain duties such that I might spend more time "on the line", actually teaching classes instead of being a theoretical "instructor" chained to a desk. I want to learn some things.

So my day today went like this: 1st lesson. 22 kids. Lesson started 15 minutes late because group was late arriving. One of the students didn't have his lift ticket, so we had to wait another 4 or 5 minutes for him. Doesn't sound like much, but when you're on the clock, it counts. Get to the top of the lift, quickly discover that at least 5 of the kids lied about their ability so they could be in the same group as their best friend. Shoulda had a ski-off.. oh yeah, there was no time. Survive the run, get to the bottom, pick up another class, smaller one, only 19 kids. Repeat above steps, then one more time after that, but with a "normal" sized class of 7. That last one actually went well, since we were only 10 minutes late in starting so the lesson was darn near an hour long.

Wait, it's not all bad news... skied with a 7 year old girl in the afternoon. She was very scared, but her dad absolutely NEEDED her to be able to go "up the chair". (It's a pretty big step at our place) So off we went and we sort of "fat horse, skinny horsed" our way down, me skiing backwards holding her hands. And she liked it! On the lower gentler slopes closer to the bottom, she even made a few tiny turns all on her own, and even with dad watching! And when we finally got to the liftline to go again, she reached for my hand and said "I like skiing. I like skiing with you." She had this huge smile on her face and her eyes were just alive!

So that's why a lot of us become "professional skiers". But... my earlier lessons today were not exactly a great skiing experience for my students. And I know that today's lesson scenario was fairly typical for our area. Management wants to sell those bulk (easy money) lessons, but the quality takes a back seat. Today, we were like the Wal-Mart of ski lessons and it feels less than great. Harder still is to have to ask a number of highly trained, dedicated professional skiers to endure such conditions on a daily basis. Woooo-weee, I get some dirty looks sometimes.(but we always kiss and make up at the end of the day)

So back to the original point about the necessity of ski instructors... apparently management at this area doesn't think we're too necessary. And some of you out there don't think we are either. But to say "ski instructors are posers/idiots/show-offs/etc" isn't good enough for this discussion. What's wrong with taking lessons? Productive answers please... g-dubs.

Quite obviously, this particular section of the forum is pro-ski school, and you have some highly informed opinions about the subject.

I'm working on a proposal for management at our little place, so I gotta admit, my interest here in this thread is for infomation gathering purposes. I know there's a different perspective for every one of you... but there has to be some common ground, too. So one last little whimper of self-defense for my earlier post... by wording my statement like I did, I hoped to hear ski teachers and their students vigorously defending our craft. And those who agreed with the words to tell us why.

So can we give it another whirl?
post #7 of 45
Thread Starter 
Alex. My thanks to you. Great ideas!!
post #8 of 45

As horrible as it is . . . kind of makes you wonder about that union thing, or some other sort of organized presentation eh? <g>
post #9 of 45
I am one of those "thinkers-imitators" that AlexS has talked about. AlexS's idea about automated videos and the opportunity for professional analysis is outstanding (this is particularly true for advanced-expert skiers). Here is why: when instructors try to correct faults and point out when correct form is achieved, visual feedback is still missing. The student's inability to see himself/herself is a huge disadvantage. Many of us know what is correct form (we can easily identify good form when we see it), so visual feedback is one of the key areas of instruction that is critical, yet very rarely used. In my opinion it should become standard practice.
post #10 of 45
I'm glad you were playing "devil's advocate" in your first post. It saves me having to post my highly obnoxious "Why are we so contented with mediocrity?" rant.

I have been called "Epic's student", and in many ways, this is apropriate. Indeed, I have "come of age" with my skiing on this forum, making the transition from novice to intermediate by reading many of the excellent threads, and asking many {often too many} sometimes stupid questions which have been very patiently answered. Without being overly self referential, if you do a search by my user name, you will find many answers to the questions you posed in this thread.

Some background, although I am a newer skier, probably one of the bottom 5 percent in ability level on this board, I have been in the fitness industry since 1973, and have held the responsibility of training, auditioning and evaluating other instructors based on their communication, presentation, interpersonal, organizational skills, as well as their class content. Although my standards for good teaching in any activity may be quite stringent, I've been lucky that for the most part, I've received good instruction.
So why do people take lessons. Many reasons. On the deleted thread, someone spoke of fear. This is a big issue, one that is often misunderstood by many instructors. Someone who is a "natural skier" often has no empathy with a more timid skier. Many of my collegues have taken one ski lesson and not returned, because their instructor ridiculed their fear of incurring an injury which would make them unable to teach their fitness classes. Ridicule is not the answer, nor is saying to any sort of fit athletic person "You SHOULD be able to do this! I can't understand why you can't!" Answer: Because you can't teach!!!
My best instructors have been the one's who showed me how to use what I already have.

Many class instructors will make the pitch at the end of a lesson to study privately with them. What they fail to understand, is that that decision is a highly personal choice. If someone with "fear issues" asks you to work privately with them, they may FEEL that they trust you to take their life into your hands. {I capitilize "feel", because I realize this is far from what is really happening.}
But for me, this is the highest form of trust I can give someone. Its usually not a good idea to betray it.
But beyond fear, there are of course, other reasons to take lessons. Simply put, if you are going to do something, DO IT WELL!! We need to put an end to this blind acceptance of complacency and mediocrity! On the slopes, if everyone strived to be a better skier, the trails would be safer and more enjoyable. Not to mention, recreational skiing would be a whole lot more pleasing to the eye, while riding up on the lifts.
You asked if instruction should be standardized. NO WAY!!!! If anything, instructors should be given more freedom to use different teaching techniques and modalities. One instructor told me about the time she had to teach an older woman from Jamaica. The woman had never experienced snow, and never anything ithat involved "sliding". This instructor wished that she could take her out on a sled, just to get her used to that sensation. But that was not acceptable by her ski school. Needless to say, the woman never returned for a lesson.
You asked why people don't take lessons. Many reasons. Here's an interesting one. There's a widely held view on this board that I "take too many darn lessons" . My husband is a big supporter of this belief. An infinitely better skier than I, it took him a long time to convince me to learn. I guess he never expected me to get so addicted. But now, once again, he often ends up skiing alone. And he'd sure like his wife back. So next season I may cut down a bit.
I have SO much more to say, but this is going on forever. I'll continue the rest in "small doses".

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #11 of 45
YIKES! Something I forgot. As Alex said, visual feedback is important. Having learned most of my movement skills in front of a mirror, skiing is incredibly challenging. Many of my corrections I've made on myself after seeing a photo and video.
Another problem. Very short season to practice a motor skill, Some kind of indoor ski simulator for off season would be helpful.
post #12 of 45

Okay. I understand now, and offer my apologies for my rants in the previous thread. I think g-dub's post immediately after your first one, just wound us all up. And with a screen name like yours, it makes it a bit harder to be objective.

The statement; "the ski instructors are expected to provide top-notch service in the presence of management infrastructure which inhibits their ability to do so." hits the nail on the head. I still haven't had the time to write my letter to psia-e, but you know where I'm headed. I don't think there are too many people out there that truly believe education (of any kind) is unnecessary, but yet they don't take lessons, and in some cases denounce them. Why? Answering that question, and doing something about it could turn the industry around. I stopped teaching skiing for a living 12 years ago. I consider myself to be pretty good at it, enjoy it immensly, and consider myself to be quite valuable to any ski school. Now I guess I could just be conceited, but I really don't think so. And until ski areas begin to relize the value of quality instruction to the industry as a whole, and pay us accordingly, then I'll remain behind this pathetic desk. I'm sorry, but $15-$20/hr, 5 hours a day, 5 days a week for 4-5 months, does not a career make! So I do it on the weekends, not for the money. I do it for the enjoyment... for ME. And I'm not about to bust my ass with 20-30 beginners for 5 hours a day, so that the ski area can bring in $400-$600, and pay out $20-$30 to the instructor. I'm going to do what I enjoy, and puts a smile on my face. And do you think I'll be upset because the students aren't getting a top-notch lesson? Maybe a little, but not enough to do anything about it.
post #13 of 45
I'm not sure exactly how this applies to this thread, but I recently polled the majority of the new instructors from where I currently teach - The number 1 reason for becoming an instructor was for the season pass. I admit that the free pass was definately one of my top reasons for getting into teaching, but I knew that I really wanted to pass on the joy of skiing. I can remember my first instructor as well as the feeling that I had when I learned what skiing was all about . . .

I have also noticed the split between the vetran instructors and the newbies . . . The majority of instructors have been teaching for 13+ years, then there are a few that returned from last hear (now 2 years) and the rest are newbies (1st season). I found that to be rather interesting. . .
post #14 of 45
Why is unionizing a "horrible" thing?

"It's like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black."
-- Nigel Tufnel
post #15 of 45
ihavethesecret, Somehow I managed to screw up that thread while posting. AC is trying to figure out what happened and hopefully can retreive the thread.
Sorry Bears.
post #16 of 45

First of all, great posts - I'm really digging 'em. And while i'm at it, I should mention that this forum is outstanding (I'm not a frequent poster - yet). Not only great discussion, but a great way to bide your time between trips to the mountains.

I hope i don't come off as arrogant, as this reply is meant to help frame an answer to IHTS's original post. In fact, I hope this can be used as ammo for your quest to shake things up a bit in the ski instruction world.

Although there are clearly lots of skiers in this forum that I could learn a ton from, I'd probably still consider myself an expert skier. What I mean is that my personal "cut-off point" where I start feeling challenged and not totally skiing within myself is w/ stuff like tight, steep lines, cliff jumps, tricks, and the like. (IHTS - i'm also working on a heli. I really liked your post on how to do one). I ski on-piste only when skiing w/ friends or to get to other terrain (especially bumps, steeps, and of course pow).

That said, I've never taken a "ski school" lesson in my life. I've been skiing about 8 or 9 years, and the only formal instruction I've had was racing 3-4 seasons while in school. (As a side note, I think racing is probably one of the best ways to learn how to become a total all-mountain expert, the keys being balance, body awareness, carving skills, and comfort w/ speed). So my 2 cents come from the perspective of someone who has only a 2nd-hand view of ski school instruction.

My perception is that ski schools tend to gear group lessons towards a type of skiing that seems to me a bit un-athletic. Whenever I watch an instructor skiing w/ his or her 6-8 students, even at relatively high PSIA levels, and the kinds of turns they teach often seem to lack the dynamic flow that expert skiers all whip out. I don't even mean the turns the students make, rather, the turns the instructors are demonstrating to their students. I realize that many clients in these lessons don't have the same goals as expert skiers, but as a result, I get the impression that ski schools based at ski areas just don't have the capacity to offer lessons geared towards expert skiers. Maybe individual instructors can do it with private lessons, but those are pretty expensive when you don't know if you'll get your money's worth. In fact, this may have led to a bit of a vicious cycle - expert skiers never see instructors working w/ other experts, so they never bother trying out the ski school scene.

So where can experts go to reach that next level of skiing? One thing that's already been mentioned is learning from other skiers on the mountain. I'm always talking technique w/ my ski buddies on the lift, and we're always scoping other skiers on the mountain while we're riding the lifts.

But what about formal instruction? Case in point: my and my ski buddy's current goal is to get to that next level in ripping bumps and tricks so we can maybe enter some amatuer bump competitions in the next season or two. Our plan to get there? We're planning to go to one of those bump camps in the NW or Canada. Camps like these seem to offer several things resort lessons don't or can't offer unless you set the credit card wide open: continuity over a whole week, a known goal of teaching expert-level skiing, being able to ski with and learn from lots of great skiers at the same time, and most importantly, knowing that the goal of these camps is to teach the kind of skiing we're striving to do. I'd imagine that other ski "camps" like all those extreme camps have the same advantages.

My bottom line? I think the common perception among expert skiers is that, even though we're all constantly striving to improve and reach our personal skiing nirvana, it's hard to imagine that standard ski schools can offer the path there. This may or may not be just perception, but until that perception changes, ski schools at resorts will continue to miss out on a pretty sizable segment of the skiing population.

I humbly submit my opinions for you all to consider (or ignore), and thanks for the time.
post #17 of 45

Welcome, and nice post.

I think your situation exemplifies the problem. Let's say you were a good tennis player or golfer, and you wanted to start getting into competitive play. You wouldn't go seek instruction and coaching? I agree that generic lessons at the "Y" may not be the way to go. You may need to hire a personal, more expensive coach. So why is it (this is an HONEST, real question) that you think that you should be able to get into competitive skiing without specialized help (ie. private lessons with a hand chosen coach/instructor)? When was the last time you were at a driving range, on a golf course or tennis court, and saw an expert level group lesson? Dare I say it just doesn't happen? There is a reason. You need personalized, and yes, more expensive, instruction if you are looking for the kind of service you are requesting. If you were the US Gov't looking to have the most advanced fighter plane in the world, do you think you could ask the local high school engineering teacher or do you think you might need to pay a lot of money for the most talented designers in the world?

At some point in your life, you will become a high level expert in something (hopefully). Don't you think, that at that point, people would need to seek you out and pay you more for your services, than for a relative "rookie"?

So, yeah, you're exactly right that when you see a ski school "group" lesson, you may never see a truly, highly dynamic, expert level class going. But I don't see a problem with that. However, here's an idea; go to your local ski school, and find out if they run instructor clinics, and are training any of their instructors for level 2 or 3 cert exams. If you can, watch that group from a distance. It's just a lesson. One instructor teaching a bunch of students. But I'm sure you'll see plenty of teaching expert level, dynamic skiing. If you like what you see, introduce yourself to the clinic leader, and set up a private lesson with him. I think you'll be amazed at what you can learn. But don't expect, at your level, to become instantly better in an hour or two. You'll learn some things, but it takes years of coaching and training to become a top (or even lower) level competitor.<FONT size="1">
<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by JohnH (edited March 19, 2001).]</FONT>
post #18 of 45
I think it's not about ski instructors or ski instruction, it's about ski schools.

Recently I went to an INS office for fingerprinting for my citizenship application. After I surrended my prints I was handed a short form suggesting I evaluate the way this office deals with customers (politeness, effectiveness etc.) on a scale from 1 to 5. What I mean is: if even INS figured this out...
Every ski school I've seen works the same way: payment accepted, instructor dispatched, case closed. Obviously nobody is interested in any feedback whatsoever. Until this attitude changes nothing you do will change things for better.

Sergey ( 2pizza@usa.net )
post #19 of 45
Sippy - I only brought it up because I think it might be needed! But I fear it because of all the weird political stuff I've heard over the years about unions.

ZSKI - What JohnH says is quite true. Fact is, the better of a skier you are - of course there will be a smaller pool of potential coaches for you. I promise you though, there are hundreds . . . or thousands of instructors just in the USA alone who make smooth, natural, athletic dazzling turns and could indeed teach you something. You might just have to seek them out as JohnH points out.

The best athletes in the world: football, basketball, ski racers . . . . all have coaches. They are out there for you and you'd probably really have fun with the right one!
post #20 of 45
Zski stated:
Camps like these seem to offer several things resort lessons don't or can't offer unless you set the credit card wide open . . .

How much are you going to have to lay out for the camp that you and your bud will be attending??? They can't be cheap . . .
post #21 of 45
JohnH and Gravity,

I completely agree with both of you that instruction, especially individualized instruction, offers probably the best and most efficient way to "improve your game." The one-on-one time I had with my coaches while racing (albeit nothing even close to super-competitive) a few years back is what gave me the really big breakthroughs. I think that's almost a moot point.

The point I was trying to make about ski schools is that there's a HUGE energy barrier keeping the "expert" (or self-perceived expert) skier from partaking. This barrier comes from the (mis)perceptions I mentioned on my previous post, basically that ski schools just aren't geared towards them.

Also, I'll agree that there are certainly hundreds/thousands of great instructors out there I and everyone could learn from - the trouble is finding one of them. Of course, it sounds like there are a lot of seriously knowledgeable instructors just on this forum - the trouble is taking the chance on a local instructor w/o prior recommendations. That said, JohnH, that's a great tip for trying to sidestep getting assigned a random instructor and looking for someone you think you can really learn something from. Still, that advice just shows that one has to go way out of their way to find good instruction. Shouldn't it be easier? Or maybe just like the rest of life, everything worth finding takes a buttload of sweat and tears (e.g., hiking for fresh tracks...)

Rexroad: as far as the relative costs go, yeah, the camps are pretty damn expensive (usually around $1-1.5K for a week), but when you add up the costs of a bunch of private lessons on top of your lift tix, it's not that dissimilar. It's all about paying for a known vs. unknown quantity. A mogul camp has been teaching thousands of participants bump skiing, presumably with methods that work, while it's hard to imagine that the local instructor has taught that many students that particular skill. Of course, if you hit on a great instructor with the ability to dissect your skiing and give you tips you can assimilate, that's probably even better than a "camp" setting.

But now to generalize again - one thing these camps have over ski school instruction, which I'll admit I've been suckered into just a bit , is the idea of going to a "camp" appeals to your ego - it's an elite kind of thing, while the flavor surrounding a ski school involves a stereotyped view of something didactic. Of course, 99% of this difference is marketing, since the content may very well be the same, but it works. It looks like ski schools are already trying to shift the semantics a bit by offering "expert clinics" as opposed to lessons. I guess it's my cynical side that brushes that off as a marketing gimmick.

Oh, and this whole discussion of course doesn't even include the added factor of complacency and thinking your "good enough" and don't need lessons - lots of really great skiers I know are susceptible to that kind of thinking. I just hope I never become one of them.

Again, I'm just laying myself out as an example (I think) of why a large segment of the skiing population doesn't ever consider taking a lesson. I (and lots of other skiers) are constantly trying to get to that next level of skiing. Ski schools need to prove to us that they want to and can help us along that path.

Again, thanks for your time.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by zski (edited March 19, 2001).]</FONT>
post #22 of 45
Yep - the real problem is that hardcore, dedicated instuctors in America don't get the recognition or compensation they deserve. It took me far less time and dedication to get two degrees in College than to become a Ski School Director or Area Trainer. Yet obviously the status and $ is not in the same league as if I used my degrees "properly".

In America our best Atheletes tend to go into Football and Basketball, as well as our best coaches (or at least coach/politicians).

Have you looked at the World Cup standing lately? Look: at www.fis.com

We invented snowboarding. But are totally dominated by the Europeans at it, and needless to say - they wipe us up so hard in ski events its beyond even being funny!

So - the few folks who stick with coaching/teaching skiing full time for more than a few years . . . REALLY love it and tend to be good at it to stick with it for so long.

You are an "expert" . . . you want really high level instruction? Just ask? "Who has taught FULL TIME for 10 years or more? I would like to book them". And you'll get somebody who is guarenteed to be able to help you out and have fun with you!
post #23 of 45
Here is some input to a few different points in this thread.

About getting competent instruction at various levels, I can see this issue from 2 different perspectives. For me, I have not taken any lessons for a very long time. Probably the last instruction I have paid for was some multi-day race clinics over 10 years ago (btw @ Copper Mt). Like others have mentioned, I have also kept improving by reading about skiing technique, purchasing videos, watching others in lessons and trying to ski with people who are better than I am(some of whom are instructors). As zski mentioned, I too wonder if any resort ski school would be giving the the instruction I would be looking for, i.e. zipperline competition level bump skiing, getting comfortable with larger airs from cliff drops, picking and skiing lines like the ones in the photos by Owens never sleeps, etc. I am sure some ski schools would be more than willing to slide your charge for these type of lessons, but I really wonder if I would get anything out of it. At this point I am more inclined to attend some specialized clinics, like the Chris Anthony clinic at A-basin or some of the MogulLogic bump clinics at Mary Jane, instead of taking my chances at the normal ski school desk.

Now for my kids, they usually get enrolled into full day lessons that are given on 3 consecutive saturdays. These are known as the scooters @ Copper Mt. We usually do 2 sets of these lessons. For some feedback to Bob B., these lessons are great. The kids come out of each session with noticable progress. The progress the kids make and the continuity that the kids get is why we keep coming back. My 10 yr old son(black/double black group) has had the same instructor for multiple sessions and for multiple years. It's great when the instructors get to know the kids so well. And Copper is on the ball here for feedback, the instructors give out feedback sheets where the customers get to rate the service we are buying. All in all, this is a very well run program.

Now on some other points:
I just don't see how someone can expect to get much of anything out of a 1 hr lesson. As noted above, a large percentage of time is most likely wasted away waiting for something. My hat goes off to the instructors who deal with this. As a customer I would never buy this service.

Also the group sizes mentioned, whoa, groups of greater than 10 people seem pretty rediculous, and you guys are seeing > 20 people? I realize that the instructors don't have much say in the lesson sizing, but I find it amazing that anyone could get anything out of a group lesson of that size. Again, my hats off to the intructors who are dealing with these situations and making the best of it. If I were to drop my kids off at their lessons and found they were in a group of 20, you can believe that the ski school program director would get an earful.

FWIW, from someone who is outside the biz looking in.
post #24 of 45
As a ski student and a potential customer for instruction I can relate to common consumer concerns here - will my expectations be matched? what these expectations must be? will I get my money worth?

I took two private lessons this season and every time (L3 or not) I was left with the weird doubtfull feeling - Was it really worth it? Should I just keep paying hoping for some breakthrough (if any)? Is this progress or apparent lack of thereof - a norm, stupid me, or instructor? What is it I was looking for - other than just "skiing better"? And all this given the fact that just by skiing more I really feel I'm getting better...

So, here's the choice : Spring some $$ for 2hr private after which you don't really know if you got any better, or use them to pay to ski three more days after which you will really feel as if you're getting better - if you're ramping up... And it's not only about instant gratification - just common sense... Professional instruction is in business competition with self-instruction at intermediate levels...

Unclear expectations and goals is a BIG problem here... Camps, clinics with a very well defined goals and expectations match those customers that already have them defined for themselves - I wanna ski bumps, steeps, powder, etc. You'll get customers with similar motivations and fairly advanced skills there...

But how to set and match goals and expectations of majority on the slopes - intermediates?

I believe that ski schools should become much more pro-active in generating business for themselves to maximize both their business and customer satisfaction.

Imagine that ski areas do have digital video recording areas set up - every skiier/rider can get an instant and great professional digital photo of themselves attacking double diamond or carving the blue by choosing a best freezed frame - or the whole tape.

Now imagine that some time aftere getting my photo I was proud of, I get a postcard in the mail with me on it banking in the turn or sitting back or whatever - informing me that this weekend there will be running, say, a 4 hr group "stance clinic" or "balance clinic" with other skiiers of my level that will guarantee that my problem will be fixed! Price is reasonable (group), goal is set, expectations are set - and with included recording after the clinic I can actually see that my stance/balance improved significantly! Since I was "selected" by ski school that viewed my tape - apparently they believe that I can improve my stance significantly in 4 hr. clinic with an instructor they have and class they've planned - so expectations are set both ways - no more frustration with "laggers"! Do you think I'd refuse such an offer? Do you think ski school would fail to deliver? Nothing but mutual happiness

I believe that having such a great focused marketing tool as a digital recording ski area can significantly improve skiing instruction experience both for instructors and for students and make it much more happier place then it is now... It can become much more planned and organized business then it is now...

Ok, enough fantasies - time to get off my soapbox... <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by AlexS (edited March 19, 2001).]</FONT>
post #25 of 45
"On the slopes, if everyone strived to be a better skier, the trails would be safer and more enjoyable. Not to mention, recreational skiing would be a whole lot more pleasing to the eye, while riding up on the lifts."

Actually, I think you're giving the general/recreational skier too little credit here; in my experience, if they see a skier worth imitating but not skiing so fast/differently that they get intimidated, that rec skier will 'strive to be better' by copying that person.

Part of the problem here is that expert skiers seem so far above your average skier that they don't feel there's any point in attempting the same kind of skiing - there's no "bridge" in their heads between their skiing and what they see whizzing by them down the hill. Give them a bridge (by putting the idea in their heads, even just visually) and exactly what you said happens - it all gets better.

For those of you who think of ski school as "un-dynamic" skiing - how many expert classes have you seen? Since the majority of ski school classes are beginner/intermediate, they aren't going to look like expert/carving/bumps classes; but I agree with you: They could mostly be a lot more dynamic, it's just that the tradition dictates going slowly at the beginning and eventually speeding up - also common sense, but it means that making beginner classes more active requires a major jump in thought.

And lastly, (this is way too long a post for me): For those of you who are looking for seriously expert, "camp" type classes, I'd suggest you ask at the ski school in question. If they don't have anyone available to teach the type of class you're looking for (pro mogul racing, halfpipe/air) they really oughta tell you so. Ski schools that would sell you a lesson for the sake of it without having an instructor qualified to teach you should be few and far between, because of bad business practices...

~Michelle H.
post #26 of 45
Good posts here! but dude, save your money! You want to really be an expert? There's a book. It's called "Anyone Can be an Expert Skier 2". It's supposed to be better than the first. There's a video too, starring Kevin Costner as student. See, Costner was still reeling from his "The Postman" disaster and he decided to get away from it all in Aspen. There on a lift he ran into Harb and well, the rest will be history...And we’ll all be better skiers! [Lisamarie: not to worry, Harald will clean those slopes up! No more ugly skiing!)
It was in Aspen that Costner decided to grow his side burns out. One morning he looked in the mirror and said "Ya know Harald's right, I would make a good Elvis Presley". Along came a script, and he thought "Yeah, I don't have to ride a horse through fires or swim through water! I can be bad! Modern style! I'm gonna be real mean, and look like Elvis to boot! Thus "3,000 Miles to Graceland" was born...
And to think, we owe it all to Harald!
But wait, where am I ? Oh! Epic Ski ... Sorry, it’s that Harb/Costner combo that gets me everytime....

I’ll just take a few points. The video. Hmmm. Maybe some of the more experienced people can comment on video. I know a very experienced coach/instructor who believes you have to be very careful with video. People can see the wrong thing and think it’s what they should be doing. More fundamentally, a skier has to feel what they’re doing. If they don’t feel the effect of what your trying to get them to do then they won’t be able to do it. Yes seeing something is good for that realization of "wow do I really do that?" and can be a powerful tool. To really own it though we have to feel it. After all, we can’t see ourselves when we ski so what input are we reacting to? Feel. (Now Lisamarie: [police voice through bullhorn] "Step away from the mirror..")

A somewhat related example on video. Last December I acquired this tape "USST Fundamentals of Skiing" which talks about modern skiing and has lot’s of clips of racers. So I had watched it once and thought "hey there’s some pretty good skiing here". So I go to one of my clinics and say "heh! I’ve got a new tape!" Put it in and watch it. Intro sequence comes on. Comments from instructor: "Back seat! ...Out of balance!... whoa way back seat!" So I look more closely. He’s right! That’s some not so great skiing there! (sadly most doing this were from...well, not Europe). Now there is some really great stuff on that tape but I had just sort of assumed it was all going to be good when I first watched it and didn’t really scrutinize it. After all it’s a USST tape right? Hmmm.....

The lesson thing. Zski makes a good point about the money. Given a choice of skiing two more days or taking a 2 hour private, most will ski the extra days w/no lesson. However, there seems to be a problem with skier complacency. I mean do people really expect to get better without learning something from someone who’s better? Doesn’t Tiger Woods have a coach? And practice his a** off? (And because he’s working on his game, sometimes he’s not that good! But he’s getting better!).
Well, Gravity already made this point.(Damn Gravity! always getting you down! )
I’m always amazed when people I know who ski a lot don’t take lessons. I mean I’m a better skier than they are and I’m taking almost any chance to get better including 10 days of clinics this year. If I’m going to go somewhere on ski vacation then I want to get better there, I don’t just want to ski. So that will involve some sort of long duration group lesson hopefully. Why just ski if you can ski and get better? Blahh. Blah...

Do people think that all those skiers in movies and in print ads get good at age 18 and then just ski while someone films them?

>I just don't see how someone can expect to get much of anything out of a 1 hr lesson.<

I pretty much agree with this. I mean you can do some stuff and get things moving. But one hour and then nothing for weeks? That’s tough. What are the expectations for a 1 hour lesson?
More experienced comments on the hour thing?

>At this point I am more inclined to attend some specialized clinics, like the Chris Anthony clinic at A-basin or some of the MogulLogic bump clinics at Mary Jane, <
I would still consider this "ski school" Maybe it’s not "normal" ski school but we’re talking about
advanced skiing here.

>I believe that ski schools should become much more pro-active in generating business for themselves to maximize both their business and customer satisfaction<
That’s good. Also being proactive in Instructor training and pay would help.

>Imagine that ski areas do have digital video recording areas set up - every skiier/rider can get an instant and great professional digital photo of themselves attacking double diamond or carving the blue by choosing a best freezed frame - or the whole tape.....Now.... I get a postcard in the mail with me on it banking in the turn or sitting back or whatever - informing me that this weekend there will be running, say, a 4 hr group "stance clinic" or "balance clinic" <

Excellent idea. This could work. Some have suggested using Nastar courses like this and helping people improve their times. But unfortunately Nastar it seems like most Nastar courses are sort of a joke. Ski racing lobotomized. I’m not suggesting full world cup courses, but something a little more interesting/challenging might lure upper level skiers, and still be totally appropriate for intermediates.

>It took me far less time and dedication to get two degrees in College than to become a Ski School Director or Area Trainer. Yet obviously the status and $ is not in the same league as if I used my degrees "properly".<
Sadly, it seems this is the state of teaching anything in America.

Alright, time to get the flock out of here... Oh! It’s time to watch "Tin Cup" with Kevin..... )

<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Tog (edited March 20, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Tog (edited March 20, 2001).]</FONT>
post #27 of 45
So, in Tog, not only do we have someone who gives us brilliant insight into the art, science, sport if skiing, we have quite a commedian!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #28 of 45
>>>Actually, I think you're giving the general/recreational skier too little credit here; in my experience, if they see a skier worth imitating but not skiing so differently that they get intimidated, that rec skier will 'strive to be better' by copying that person.<<<

Skiandsb, I am going to speak up on this since I see it quoted so often.

Every couple of weeks or so I have a skier come up to me and ask "What makes you turn like that, I can't figure it out".

My flip answer is "These skis have power steering". But if I have time I'll ride up with the person and point out some of our best skiers, usually one of a dozen examiners we have and lots of level3 instructors, AND lots of expert skiers that ski at our area.

With the really smooth ones the movements are so subtle that even an instructor has a hard time detecting the intitation of a turn and the follow up. There is a pole touch and the skier turns, that's it.

Then some will point out a skier who hops or up-unweights quickly from side to side doing short turns and say that they want to ski like that, like a REAL expert, which proves to me that the average intermediate can't even tell what expert skiing is.

I realise that you said "but not sking so differently that they get intimidated" and I don't really know what you meant by that. Is a skier who makes turns simply by tightening a calf muscle and is so minimalistic in body movement as to be undetectable, intimidating?

Sorry if that goes contrary to what is generally believed, but it is true. Instructors have to conciously exagerate the movements they teach, in slow-motion, so the student will be able to see the components of a turn. Were s/he to demostrate that turn the way s/he skis it while free skiing, the student couldn't see what makes the turn, much less imitate it.

And this is the cermon for Wednesday

post #29 of 45
Ott, I agree. I think very good skiers are very much "stealth" skiers. The GP hardly notices them because they are smooth and effortless, and don't draw attention to themselves. However, the "flashy" skiers, that throw body parts all over the place, and big ploumbs of snow in the air get noticed. The sad fact is that they get noticed for all the wrong reasons, because they are actually skiing poorly. But.... if people come into lessons because they want to ski like that "flashy" skier, then I say we all go ski under the lifts like that, just to get people's attention. Call it a necessary evil. Or, we could do syncro royal christies and mambo turns under the lifts. I know lots of ski schools used to do that, and for the same reasons.
post #30 of 45
I like what you just posted.
I don't have the teaching experience but I sure appreciate taking lessons from an instructor that can pick up those subtle adjustments. I just got to see myself ski for the first time in probably 8 years on video this week. If I didn't know what I was looking for specifically and didn't have slow motion frame by frame, I don't think I would be able to tell much from my skiing. We took video of 3 of my friends as well and for the best of the 3, I sort of saw where he could use improvement but I needed to use stop action for him to understand what some of the issues were with him too. The other 2 I tried to explain to them what they were doing but not being able to demonstrate what they were doing (thats why a good instructor is a big help) all I could do was try to explain what they needed to do. When they saw the video later, they commented "I see what you mean by I make "z" shaped turns"

An instructor that can see this stuff realtime and demonstrate it the way it looks and then how to do a movement correctly is worth the cost of the lesson.
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