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i'm sad.. lively discussion nipped in the bud - Page 2

post #31 of 45
Taos has ( or at least 3 years ago, HAD ), an area where you can be videotaped and then have it analyzed for a small fee. It was not open when I was there, though.
post #32 of 45
Tog wrote:
"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..."

Isn't that video called "Dumb and Dumber?"

Seriously, just a couple more points. It seems like there's actually pretty good general agreement here that skiers need SOME sort of instruction to get better, be it through a school, camp, video, book, or Costner flick.

And Tog, just a small point about your comment, "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." I think you're assuming those folks aren't interested in getting better. That's not necessarily true.

Another point of agreement is that the general public undervalues good ski instructors, in large part because of the disaster lots of ski areas have made of their ski schools. What that says to me is that there are 2 parties that would love to hook up - skiers looking to improve and instructors who can help them - with a big barrier between them.

Solutions? Some have been mentioned here. Has anyone thought of this: do instructors ever go independent? Is the cost too much to advertise, etc? Is it illegal to teach a lesson and make money at a resort w/o the consent of the ski area? What if a bunch of like-minded instructors banded together (not exactly unionizing) and formed a "group practice?" As an example, in the Tahoe area, a group of instructors could advertise locally and in the Bay area w/ their qualifications, saying, lessons by a level X instructor, tailored to your needs, w/ a cost of Y, and we could meet you at the Tahoe ski area of your choice. Classes wouldn't be forced into the double digit size range, etc. Feasible?

This is sort of akin to what the medical private practice community already does. Are there obvious problems with this idea?

Thanks for your time.

"Nothing's free in Waterworld" -Kevin Costner
post #33 of 45
>It seems like there's actually pretty good general agreement here that skiers need SOME sort of instruction to get better, be it through a school, camp, video, book, or Costner flick.< -zski

I think almost everyone here would agree with that. [Except that Costner flick... oh, for sleeping perhaps?] Learning from someone who knows what they're doing can save you a lot of time. They can point you in the right direction and they can help you learn how to learn so that time on your own can be way more productive.

>>Is a skier who makes turns simply by tightening a calf muscle and is so minimalistic in body movement as to be undetectable, intimidating?<< - Ott

Here's a good reason to take a leason from someone who knows what that good skier is doing. Yes, in some ways it is intimidating if you have no idea what they're doing. You can't just watch them and imitate.

>Isn't that video called "Dumb and Dumber?"<
Ouch! Now now...

One thing that needs to be done is to cultivate a culture of learning. How one does this I'm not sure but certain areas have it more than others. I can tell you when I was at Taos 2 years ago they certainly had it and that's why they have over 40% of skiers in ski school.
Certainly ski schools that just want to fill bodies in slots aren't going to give off such an atmosphere.
Racing, synchro skiing, anything at a high level should be made visible to the public so that they see what's possible and are inspired. Warren Witherwell was talking about this in '93 in "The Athletic Skier". Ski schools should make a visible prescence of athletic skiing. This might require a ski school to actually pay some instructors to ski for a couple of hours instead of teach.(Oh boy, fat chance of that...)

When ski schools ignore the high level skier I think they're really losing out on opportunities. If an intermediate skier sees advanced skiers taking lessons then they will be far more likely to do the same. But mountains that lack really difficult terrain to convince advanced skiers that they need to know more need a hook to get people in. I think racing is one of those, anyone got an idea for another?

post #34 of 45
Although it wasn't original topic or intent of the thread - but after reading posts by pros here - I'm interested to learn what the state of the business is as seen from inside...

Do you feel that you have more business than you can handle and you worry about the quality of service provided and adequate pay and training opportunities?

Are you looking for ways to generate more business for ski instructors or you feel that you're busy enough (even overworked, maybe?) but want to improve the ways current demand is satisfied and instructors get rewarded?

Do you feel that ski instruction needs to generate more profit through increased volume and quality of services, etc. before ski instructors reward can become adequate in your view - or you feel that overall profitability is fine but instructors are just not treated fairly?

I just felt that if we (students) knew your context better - we could provide maybe more useful input...

Sorry for an attempt to reverse the thrust of the thread

Thanks!<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by AlexS (edited March 21, 2001).]</FONT>
post #35 of 45
>>Ski schools should make a visible prescence of athletic skiing.<<

Absolutely, and when Witherell said that it really struck home. Many ski areas, including the one I was at when the "Athletic Skier" came out - didn't even allow instructors to ski too fast or catch air in uniform. Some of this is not the ski schools, its the natural fear they've got here in the *Land of Lawyers* (and the people who hire them for frivilous things).

When I later became a Director of that same Ski School it was one of the things I really wanted to get rid of. And to set the tone I pushed my limits in uniform and encouraged it among the instructors. Instructor enthusism and moral went up, as did ski ability - and therefore customer interest was as well. However, the "wild" skiing was worrisome to the owner and we had to tone it down again.

>>I think racing is one of those, anyone got an idea for another?<<

Without the natural terrain another any ski area can offer is terrain parks and 1/2 pipes. In fact where I'm currently working we are toying with putting together some serious progressions for teaching various levels in the park n' pipe.
post #36 of 45
Definitely the half pipe. I think the half pipe is one of the best things to happen to skiing. You take kids in there and they absolutely love it. Adults really get to push their comfort zones too. It's a really good tool to push the fear limit in areas that don't have scary terrain. When people who start out absolutely terrified of the thing finally do a turn in the half pipe that's a major accomplishment.

This from the "Multi -day programs" topic:

>This just shows the transatlantic divide. Here in Europe the multi-day package is the norm, not the exception - typically 2 or 3 hours/day for 5 or 6 days, but sometimes 4-6 hours (all day).
Any thoughts from the others out there how short-duration one-off sessions as opposed to multi session affects the way you teach? Here we're not as rule looking for instant results, more at building towards a goal over the week as a whole? Do you feel under pressure that your clients have to feel they've improved significatantly in an hour (or whatever)?<

Welcome. I don't remember seing you around here before.
Yeah. That's pretty much it. America, land of instant gratification. And if that's not the reason, it's because they are too cheap to pay for an education.
And if they don't have some instant revalation in their skiing, they feel like they've been ripped off. It's especially bad in day areas near cities, and not so bad in destination resorts.<

I wonder if Europe has a different attitude on learning skiing altogether or is it due to most people taking multi day lessons?

post #37 of 45
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all for the insights. Glad it turned out this way and the zapped thread? Perhaps best left as is.

INSTRUCTORS/SKI SCHOOL OPERATORS: Let's face it guys... we teach skiing. We're not exactly holding the balance of world power in our hands. Perspective is a fine companion to discussion. Still, we ski teachers are important. A little motto I like to use sometimes to start the day at our little ski school goes like this: "We're not just teaching skiing, we're changing lives! Let's go live it up!"

I think this sums up the ski instructors role quite nicely. I would bet many skiers; teachers and riders at large alike, would agree that the thing that holds them back is fear and it's many faces. It might be fear of losing control. Fear of injury. Fear of "looking stupid". (hmmm... is this why some of you don't take lessons?) Fear of embarrassment. Fear of success. But, hey, whoa! I'm not saying everyone is insane with fear, but it cannot be denied that we all have at least a minor case of it. Very useful in defining our limits. And that is what teaching skiing is all about. Defining and then expanding personal limits. Or, in other words, changing lives! Our tools: facts, knowledge, experience, passion for the game, creativity, enthusiasm, imagination, energy. We are personal trainers, psychologists, biomechanical engineers, physicists, motivators, systems analysts, athletes, role models... all this and more rolled into one.

In the real world, these types of jobs are very highly paid, why not the ski instructors? Yeah, why not? Well, I think most ski instructors understand and accept our place in the big picture. We're up against the perception of the world at large, and that's a pretty solid foundation to chip away at. Here's what I mean:

Say the world comes to an end and the few remaining survivors are afloatin' on a boat. The boat is too full. Someone's gotta go. Then those who remain survive and go on to rebuild the world. There's drs, lwyrs, heads of state, authors, astronauts, architects, carpenters, ski instructors on the boat. Who says the ski instructor has a good chance of getting thrown overboard?

Yeah, an extreme example... but true. Our "value" to society is not as great as other occupations might bear despite our efforts to improve ourselves and our product. Perception IS reality and the world believes it can function w/o ski instructors.

Now our world is always involved in some crisis or another and some say we'll see arm-a-geddin soon... but I tend to think that we'll be OK for a while yet. So we're all here and we do the best we can. And as such, ski instructors deserve to be treated fairly.

To effect positive change in our role within our respective ski area operations we must accept our percieved reality and work within it's bounds.

If the area management is making "huge" profits from the ski schools, I say "Great!". That's why they're in business and running a ski area is TREMENDOUSLY expensive, plus, you gotta SPEND money twelve months of the year, but only MAKE the stuff for maybe 5 to 7. Gadzooks!

I've seen surveys that ask workers in various occupations what they want out of their jobs. A "top ten" list of sorts... money ranked BELOW the middle of the pack, after such things as personal satisfaction, nice environment, solid management practices, reputation, status... so we have many angles to approach the question of "fair" treatment.

So what is fair for the people who represent one of the most important marketing arms for any ski area operation?

Our governing bodies in North America (PSIA,CSIA in Canada) are doing a great job in responding to changes in skiing techniques. I have the utmost respect for my membership in the CSIA and have learned everything I know from this organization. Ask Joe Skier about our organizations, though, and you probably won't get much. I think we have to create a greater public identity through our national offices. When our customer knows more about us, and begins to develop a respect for the nobility of our profession, our hourly wage might not go up, but we'll be viewed as full time, trained professionals. That's worth something, isn't it? Yeah, status. Naturally, there will always be ski instructors like me, unshaven, self-centered, attention starved, girl watchin' ski bums. But there IS hope for the resta ya.

At the area management level, we have to impress upon our managers and boards of directors that we are an important marketing tool for the resort. Develop marketing campaigns that make the ski school a reason to come to that particular place. Emphasize quality over quantity, but maintain the almighty margins. Develop business plans both for the short and the long term. Impress upon management what a bargain a "fleet" of great ski instructors is. Pssst.. they will do great work relatively cheap if ya use your imagination a little. They are the ultimate practicioners of a "labor of love". They're not in it for the money, it's about integrity. This type of employee deserves your attention. Can't find 'em just anywhere, so you better pay a at least a little better than the transient minimum wage crowd but above all else, treat them with respect.

Ski school directors gotta make a deal that management likes. Management likes productivity and profits. Yep, some of them are "rich", but that's their choice. I wouldn't trade places with 'em.

So build a business plan that will show an increase in productivity for your department. Get your hands on the historical numbers and show 'em a plan to improve upon them. Perhaps you could convince them to consider a profit sharing agreement based on your performance?

Wooo-wee another long one, my apologies. And we haven't even talked much about the most important person involved, our students. But, I'll escape now by saying that lots of the points touched on here have been left deliberately vague with the hope of creating more conversation... I don't fully believe in the concept of right and wrong, just ideas and consequences.

Thanks. 72 out.
post #38 of 45
I think that one of the problems is that we do not have a "Culture of Learning" in this country.Who do we value more? Our lawyers and insurance agents, or our teachers of ANY sort?

It took me a long time to convince my academically oriented family that I am not a renegade by virtue of being a fitness instructor: My approach to fitness is academic. When some of the Harvard and MIT students who take my class come in a bit tired, a common joke is the question " Can we just listen to the lecture today?"

Indeed, the people who I have CHOSEN as my ski instructors are educators who believe that they themselves can always improve both their teaching and skiing skills. "Gravity" definitely personifies this ideal. {stop blushing, Todd, you deserve this}

But instructors of this caliber are often promoted to become ski school directors, making them less accessible to the students.

But sadly, we are "preaching to the converted". The amount of time that many of us spend on this forum {not to be an "efete intellectual snob," but those of us who "hang out" mostly on the technique and instruction board} indicates a desire to learn more, to go beyond what the books, manuals and videos tell us, and find our own "truths" about skiing.

I just saw a very disturbing post on another ski forum. A woman wrote of her first time skiing. Although she describes herself as being fit, she found out that she was inept at skiiing. I can relate to this. However, even though she was falling, and completely out of control for her entire lesson, she allowed her husband to take her up on the chairlift. But she's afraid of heights. So upon getting off the chair, she would grab on to someone, making them both fall. Then, going down the trail, she continued to ski out of control, becoming very perplexed that no one would change their line when she screamed "Get out of my way!"
So what does she do the next day? She decides not to take class, to let her husband teach her, and proceeds to cause more damage.
What do you think was the response to this post?
"You write so beautifully! You should get this published! Don't worry, you'll get better, I did and I never had a lesson in my life!" Not one person chose to suggest that she take another lesson, or to remind her about the skiers responsibility code. Finally, my husband wrote what will probably be perceived as a flame, but basically, he was saying "Take another lesson, you are not only endangering yourself, but you are endangering the rest of us!"
But how sad that most people devalue ski lessons so much, that they would not even think to encourage a "newbie" to take them.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #39 of 45
How wonderful to have you back in these forums and thank you for the kind words in your earlier post.

I'm glad you brought up this "Culture of Learning". I just recently posted something on the multiday-programs topic which I shall repeat here:

>The "culture of learning" at Taos is truly impressive and inspiring. Almost everybody wants to get better and take lessons. Maybe it's because of the attitude at the top.

I remember talking to Alain Veth (in charge of the Taos ski weeks)in his ski shop one evening after skiing. He was upset because although the ski racing season was over, some teams wanted to add another race. But Alain's team had disbanded, and furthermore he was done for the season. He told me "I do a lot of prepartion before a race, I don't just go out there and ski." Then he preceeded to describe some of what he did to get ready for a race. Now, when someone of his level of skiing talks about practicing and preparing that has an effect! It's an attitude of working to get better rather than resting where you are. That and a tremendous enthusiasm for skiing seem to be the defining characteristics of Taos.< -Tog

Now I'm getting tired of always saying Taos this and Taos that but it's true!

Now Lisamarie, since you are a fitness instructor maybe you can enlighten me. Why do people come and work out all the time? I mean besides those who are doing a specific sport. Is it because they want to feel better, be healthier, look better, or just for social reasons? Is it a "culture of beautification", "culture of health", "culture of self imprvovement"? And do these same people go places and take lessons to learn other things? Or do they only do it for excercising? Or do they take excercise classes just to have others to do it with?
Hmmm... those excercisers... what are they really like?
(As you can see such activities are like the surface of Mars for me. I know it has a surface, I've seen some photos, but I have no idea what it's like. You know my feelings of gyms as "dungeons of excruciating boredom" - but perhaps I could be cured of that. )

As for the lady and her husband Oy Vey! This happens so often it's ridiculous. I had a woman student who hadn't skied in 17 years because of a really bad experience her first time. Now she was from South America and had rarely seen snow. Her boyfriend,(now husband), upon seeing her sidestep up the hill in her beginner's lesson said "Oh you're doing fine, let's go." He takes her up to the top of a large mt. (western). At the top she totally freaks out and he has to carry her down. She was so traumatized that she didn't attempt skiing again for 17 years.

Now, that response on that other board, wow, that is bizarre/depressing/familiar. eeeechh... I'm seeing "The Postman"... I'm seeing "The Postman"... I'm seeing "The Postman"....Ahhh! It's that nightmare again!..

mila grazie per tutta...
post #40 of 45
How wonderful to find another insomniac!! Usually I have to rely on the west coast folks for my late night educational entertainment.
Interesting question about fitness. People usually start in the culture of beautification, which usually evolves into the culture of health, gradually developing into the culture of self improvment. Somewhere along that road, as self confidence increases, they often find themselves interested in many other things, and do in fact take many sorts of classes.
But similar things happen when people learn to ski. Ironically, ihaveasecret was posting at the same time that I wrote my last message, and he mirrored some of my thoughts. The idea that a ski instructor is many things to a person rings true. Both the mountain and the lesson can be a metaphor for working through different types of fears; heights, letting go, etc. and different types of "personality disorders" such as S.A.D.
But the nice thing is, you don't have to lie on a couch and gab about it. Heck, you don't have to say anything, just learn a great sport.
The woman in question on this post is also South American, but since this was her first time skiing, I doubt its the same person {wouldn't that be ironic}. This did take place in New Mexico, so be careful the next time you go to Taos.
Finito adessso!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #41 of 45

Good post, I would point out though as far as judging our comparitive "value" of human beings on that little boat bobbing in the ocean - that except for the very few year-round instructors in the world, most of us have multiple careers. Just where I am now: we've got an instructor/engineer, instructor/doctor, instructor/fireman, instructor/architect and etc. In fact, I know that my summer work as a computer consultant has been vastly improved by my teaching/training full time in the winter - most computer geeks are not very good at dealing with people. Might not be enough to keep me on the boat, but the point is that the instrutors may actually have a wider variety of skills than many other people!


Thanks! "We teach best what we most need to learn" - Richard Bach
post #42 of 45
Wow! Hey... great stuff all around.

IHTS - The laywer goes first. And not to worry. The sharks won't eat him. Professional courtesy (just kidding fellas).

Gravity - I have always stated that my success in my 9-5 job is due, in large part, to my ski teaching career. The first time I had to get up in front of a large group of furtune 100 employees and big military brass (admirils and generals) was no problem since I had already spent a lot of time teaching people of equal stature. Everything from military brass to sports superstars (NFL players), to ex-cons and half-way house kids. Being at a day resort near Washington DC, we get every imaginable type on the hill, as well as ski instructos with every imaginable background or "real" job.
post #43 of 45
Sorry it took a while to get back to you (and sorry to everyone waxing philosophical so well, I'm just going to respond to his previous post):

You went a little over my head, in the sense that what I meant by a skier who "intimidates" is frequently a skier skiing so fast, and/or showing off, that intermediate skiers may stare after him/her with open mouth but do not conceive of being able to imitate that person

If the skiers are not good enough or experienced enough to tell the difference between subtle moves and jumped short turns, at least if they admire one or the other enough to try to learn it, they will be better skiers, right? And by the time they learn the jumped short turns you are thinking they shouldn't be admiring, maybe they'll be educated enough to know about and admire the subtle moves!

Besides, who do you think gets asked that question more often ("how do you ski like that?"), you or the skiers who don't ski so well?!

I simply meant that if all recreational skiers see is either skiers like themselves or people who leave their heads spinning with speed, they won't try to improve, but as you point out, if they see someone worth admiring who skis WITH them, not AT them, they'll be willing to try to learn from them!

Er - and I feel I ought to add that I think many "expert skiers" and maybe PSIA are going to have something to say (even if they don't get out here and say it); even though it sounds as if you feel that 'subtle' moves define the truly expert skier, the current prevailing thought is that there are many 'right' ways to be an expert, and no one way absolutely defines expert skiing! And, of course, when I do short turns, including with air, I still think I'm an expert, "good" skier, and I think most others who do them do also - they may be right!
~Michelle H.

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[This message has been edited by skiandsb (edited March 23, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by skiandsb (edited March 23, 2001).]</FONT>
post #44 of 45
>>> even though it sounds as if you feel that
'subtle' moves define the truly expert skier, the current prevailing thought is that there are many 'right' ways to be an expert, and no one way absolutely defines expert skiing!<<<

Michelle, I'll drink to that! Being an expert skier, as opposed to expert skiing, is realy what these discussions are all about.

We (I) may not go here into all that is involved in being an expert skier. Knowing all the ins and outs of skiing expertly in all conditions is a start. Judgement plays a big role, knowing when to use what technique. If you look up an impossible slope and you see "expert" skiers trying to ski it and they crash or barely survive and you also see a skier with his skis over his shoulder picking his way down safely, you see an expert in the latter.

Self awareness at any time is also important how an expert reacts. Is s/he tired, is the timing off, or does the skiing just not feel right at this time, don't push it, stay safe.

Concentration and pre-visualisation, an expert knows where s/he is going to be one,five and ten seconds from now and what will be required when s/he gets there, no surprises.
Experts don't jump or ski into the unknown.

Experts don't conquer the mountain, they caress it, stroking smoothly so as not to bruise it. The snow and the slope are the experts friends, s/he takes a little and gives a little, adjusts to the weather, listens to the body, the equipment, and though s/he is having a great time, never loses concentration lest s/he relaxes too much and falls asleep at the wheel, so to speak.

When an expert skis, s/he is subconciously aware of the terrain ahead, commits, adjusts and follows through, on every turn.

And so on. This is just the surface of what constitutes an expert skier. In my opinion.

post #45 of 45
Well, I'll drink to that definition, also!

~Michelle H.
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