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Thread Starter 
Very interesting poll; very interesting additional comments. My 2 cents...

It seems that many responders felt they did't want to take the time away from free skiing, or wouldn't get the intruction they needed, at the level that was appropriate. As far as the first objection, I watch skiers every day. Most can get down a trail, but very few really SKI it. In other words, most people, even on pitches of only moderate steepness, are working too hard--twisting their skis to MAKE them turn, fighting gravity and using their skis as brakes. ONE lesson with a good instructor can often address these habits. I can't begin to count the times I've heard people say, "We're only here for (pick one) a day/week/month. We don't want a lesson! We just want to have fun!" They then spend their entire time on the hill fighting it!
Would't it make sense to let a pro look at your skiing when you first arrive, let him/her see the things you are doing that are working well, and then clean up the things that are working against you? After that one lesson, I GUARANTEE you will feel more secure, condifdent and effortless. Isn't that what "fun" in skiing realy means?

As far as the other objections...

I instruct at Copper. Most folks would say we have a very good ski school and a person has an excellent chance of getting a good lesson there; however, there are a few things a person could do to help ENSURE a good experience (and these suggestions apply to most ski mountains).

Before you sign up, go to the ski school desk at a less-than-busy time (NOT 8:30-10 AM!). Ask to speak to a supervisor if one is available. Accurate information is vital to a good experience! Let the ski school help you. Tell them EXACTLY what you are looking for as far as what in your skiing you want to improve, what type of trails you ski comfortably, where you have difficulty, or feel you are working too hard.

If you have had lessons before, or just know yourself, tell them what works for you. Do you respond better to men/women instructors? Do you like an instructor that explains things in detail before you try it? One that give one focus and lets you practice a lot? Something in-between? Virtually all Level 3-certified instructors have a high level of expertise (as do many Level 2s), but each one has a different approach--a different set of keys to open the lock of your skiing. You need to help the ski school put you with the person that meshes with you. Request an instructor who comsistently gets a large number of requests and excellent internal evaluations. Naturally, if you sign up for a private lesson, you will reduce the risk factor, and will often get your pick of instructors, but you can usually get an excellent experience in a group lesson IF you provide the ski school or splitter on the hill with the information they need to help you. Here's a tip! Most group lessons get smaller in size as the ability level of the skiers increases. For a skier comfortable on more-difficult blues, easy blacks, or above, you will in all probablility have only 2 to 3 others in your group! If the ski mountain offers afternoon lessons, jump on them! A little-known secret is that 90% of people sign up for morning lessons. If you go in the afternoon, you have an excellent chance of being the only person signed up at your level! I know from my own experience that Intrawest and Vail Resorts mountains will give you that de facto private lesson at no additional charge. At Copper Mountain, for example, this means that your first lesson is $52 for 2.5 hours. If you come back any time that season, the price is reduced by 25%. Many times, I have given advanced bumps/steeps lessons to one person at a time for $38!

Most ski schools want you to have a good experience and most will provide you with your money back or a free lesson if you are not satisfied. All you need to do is let the ski school desk know. If that person is not helpful, courteously ask to speak to a supervisor. Nine times out of 10, you WILL be satisfied by the time you leave!