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Instructor using cellphone while skiing

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
While on the long cat track run out from the Blackcomb glacier on Saturday I passed a uniformed instructor who was talking on his cellphone while skiing with his three teenage pupils in tow.

When he skied in to the line for the chair lift I politely pointed out this this was perhaps not appropriate behaviour and at the very least broke the spirit of the alpine responsibility code. His reply apart from being aggresive was that he was capable of skiiing in control while on the phone and that he was so busy it was the only way he could get his schedule arranged.

he was not wearing a name badge and refused to provide me with his name, even when I suggested that I wanted to book him for a private lesson as he was obviously such a mega talent on the slopes.

Any thoughts?
post #2 of 37
He may be able to ski while telephoning (after all, SOME folks feel thay can phone and drive), but he certainly isn't showing his pupils that they have his attention and concern. I'd have asked the kids what their names were and gone to the ski school to report that the behavior of the guy leading these kids.
post #3 of 37
I agree with Neale. The instuctor should not be on the phone while teaching. And he knew it, otherwise he would have given his name. I have occcasionallybeen asked to wear a radio, but I refuse to have it turned on while teaching. Not only do I consider it a major distraction but in complete conflict with providing a guest centered lesson.
post #4 of 37
If it could be correlated with the students accounts as well, I would consider the cellphone combined with the rudeness of reply, and refusal to give name . . . an incident warrenting automatic suspension without pay, and possibly more depending on the instructors defense of themself!
post #5 of 37
I agree with all the posts so far.

I carry a Cell and a radio but they are on silent and never out during the student's time. The only time I pulled my radio out was to help a student find his parents when they wanted to end the lesson a little early (cold and tired). I carry the cell in case of emergency. We have pretty good coverage at the resort and I figure it might be faster to call the resort to contact the Patrol in case of an unusual emergency. Talk during a lesson, That's just not professional.
post #6 of 37
Can you imagine dentist saying he/she is professional enough to drill while talking over phone. Nonsense? What the difference?

Totally agree with previous posts.
post #7 of 37
Rex, Theres a bit of difference between drilling a tooth and gliding across a run out/cat track!!!

I know that a number of instructors now use cell phones instead of radios on the hill. The only difference is that you don't have to push a button to talk, you hold it to your ear, and that everyone else can't hear the other end of the conversation (unless it's a Nextel 2 way). I think it's pretty well accepted that some people in the ski school need radios to communicate with the main desk and the rest of the mountain. Just consider it a quiet radio.
post #8 of 37
Hi everyone--seems to be the consensus that this instructor was negligent or unprofessional. Maybe he was, but I think there are too many unknowns to convict him just on this story. Who knows? Perhaps his phone was on "vibrate" and he got an important call--ski school director, scheduler, perhaps, or the parents of the kids--that he hadn't answered earlier when he was in the middle of an explanation or demonstration. Then, when just skiing down, he finally returned the call at a time when it was not detrimental or distracting to the students. Perhaps he even discussed it beforehand with his students. Yes, depending on the instructor and the circumstances, most instructors are more than capable of skiing safely while talking on a cell phone. I'm sure he wasn't skiing very fast, because wind and cell phones are a bad match.

Maybe the students wanted to go longer, so he was calling their parents and the scheduler to clear it. Maybe he had been told to call in for any number of reasons.

I'm not trying to excuse impolite or unprofessional behavior, which certainly COULD have been the case here. But cell phones have become a very important tool for many professional instructors, whose tightly packed schedules are subject to endless change. Unlike most professionals, ski instructors' "offices" do not usually have desk phones! And ski instructors are certainly not the only professionals who use cell phones in their business!

PNWBRIT--you stated that you "politely pointed out that this was perhaps not appropriate behaviour." Regardless of how polite you were (and I know you Brits make politesse a science and an art!), I can still sympathize with a professional instructor taking offense when confronted with such an accusation in a public lift line, presumably in front of a crowd of people. As I noted above, it is at least possible that this instructor had legitimate reasons to use his cell phone, and did his best to do it in an unobtrusive, professional way. Sounds likely, actually, given the brief explanation he gave you (an explanation he had no obligation to give).

Sorry--can't agree with the conviction of this instructor, based on the evidence presented!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #9 of 37
His wife could have been in labor for Pete's sake. Whatever happened to presume innocent until proven guilty?
post #10 of 37
Hence in a management situation, all parties are talked to first - employee and clients, before action is taken. Judgement in real life should never be as quick as our judgements are here online!
post #11 of 37
Thread Starter 
Bob, I'm very suprised at your reaction. I agree with others that there is nothing wrong with carrying or even using a cell phone on the slopes but never while moving and in particlar not by an instructor while teaching. Shouldn't he always be trying to teach by example as should anyone who cares about our sport. While its possible that he can ski in control on the phone those who see his behaviour and copy it probably don't have the skill to do so in safety.

Eug, fine but he didn't tell me his wife was about to give birth, what he did was stand and argue with me in the lift line and try and justify his unprofessional behaviour.

I probably should have spoken to his pupils or the ski school director. But on reflection I'd rather have someone who skis so recklessly wearing a uniform than being on suspension and riding the mountain in "civilian" clothes and being completely unaccountable. It's just a pity that he didn't hit someone, Whistler's insurers would have just loved that one.
post #12 of 37
Regarding the above, I agree with Todd and Bob that we need to know the reason for the calls.

Slightly off-topic, but I reported a ski bus driver to the police back in January.
This guy, in charge of a public bus carrying skiers down a steep access road from Cairngorm mountain in Scotland was DIALING AND MAKING CALLS on his mobile phone.
The police took it very seriously. I said I didn't think he should lose his job, and I don't think he did, but I don't think he'll be repeating the exercise.
post #13 of 37
Bob-thanks for sticking up for working instructors. I, too, carry a cell phone, and have no control over when it rings. Only the ski school desk, and my wife have the number, so I have to assume a call is important.
I, too, would tell some nitwit confronting me about my behavior with my group of students to get lost. How presumptuous to intrude/interfere with my conduct of a lesson. Guess my years of training and certification amount to little when compared to the vast store of knowledge of any other skier. I can guarantee that my Director would back his instructors on this issue. If the meddler persisted, he would be removed from the hill.
Damn, perhaps I should cease carrying 20 gates for racing practice-that surely is setting a terrible example!
How about skiing backwards supporting a fearful student--too, too dangerous??
How about operating a video camera while skiing-scary in it's consequences!!
Maybe I should re-evaluate some of my higher
level exercises-surely some onlooker might find them objectionable.
Every circumstance presented by Bob has happened to me.
In conclusion:
How dare anyone extraneous presume to intrude on a lesson, paid for by the students, if the students are dissatisfied, they have recourse.
Self-righteousness is a tedious trait-too much of that going around!!
It really is not too challenging to speak on a cell-phone while moving slowly-perhaps if he was skiing backwards on 1 ski it might have been worth a comment.
post #14 of 37
I noticed this post, and this whole transaction bugged me.

There may have been a legitamate reason to have the cellphone. Innocent till proven guilty... Not your jurisdiction...

I occasionally get important ski school related calls. I let it ring, look at the caller ID, then call back when it's appropriate.

Ever notice in a situation between two people; if the first person tells a second person to do something differently, the first person gets defensive? This is not a good way to manage the situation even if you are the second person's manager!

Not in front of the students. HELLO? Bad manners!

Personally, if I was the instructor, I would have moved away FROM you (creating an issue when there may not have been one), and called the others back... Who's really the person who's in the wrong in this situation? Don't presume like that, it's NOYB!

My $1.98
post #15 of 37
I have to side of SkiSwift and Bob. Sorry PNWBRIT, but things get busy in my office.
I often need to communicate with parents, ski school office, etc. Just as you may in your office. I rarely do more than check the caller ID to simply call back on the chairlift if urgent.
Although, PNWBRIT I do understand your concern for others trying to emulate the activity. And that could be dangerous, agreed.

PNWBRIT, you said, " It's just a pity that he didn't hit someone, Whistler's insurers would have just loved that one."
I am sorry to hear that! sheesh!!!

post #16 of 37
Thread Starter 
Wow, this seems to have ruffled some feathers. I guess around here you get ganged up on by questioning the godlike skills of an instructor.

I know this was probably none of my business but would I have been within my rights to complain if I had been the pupil in this lesson? How about if I was the parent of the kids placed in his care. Again what would have happened if there had been an accident? If so confident of his argument why should he refuse to give me his name and indeed why be hiding it in the first place. Why not let the phone ring and pick up the message on the lift ride back up or while in the line which was only a few minutes away.

I'm sure that all of us could safely talk on the phone while skiing and have often been required to do far more distracting things, That wasn't my point. I wanted your views on the professionalism or rather lack of it of such behaviour.

Skiswift - from your reaction here I'm glad that it wasn't you that I confronted on the slopes, If you'd spoken to me face to face the way you do here you'd have needed hospital assistance to remove your ski pole from your ass. I'm even gladder that I'm not unlucky enough to ski at such an enlightened area as yours where "meedlers" are "removed"
post #17 of 37
And we recently had a thread about snowboarders beating up a skier. How about skier offering to beat up ski instructor?
post #18 of 37
Sorry PNWBrit--no offense intended, but what is your safety concern about skiing while speaking on a cell phone anyway? For experienced skiers, skiing is no more difficult than walking--do you object to pedestrians talking and walking for safety reasons? It's not like we need our hands to hold the wheel and shift gears and use directional signals when we ski. It's not actually that dangerous to miss a pole plant! Most high-end instructors could easily carry on a cell phone conversation without missing a beat while skiing down a double-black diamond mogul run, if they wanted to! The argument that cell phones and driving are not compatible MAY have some merit, but honestly, I can't see a big safety concern here with skiing.

Professionalism, well, that's another story, and we hardly know enough of the facts in this case to make a judgement. Neither did you. Few instructors are so callous that they would ignore their students as you suggest happened here, though. Perhaps it is so, but I would be quite surprised. Many, if not most, instructors are actually quite professional. Without further information and evidence, you were meddling.

Again, we have no real idea what was going on here, except that you saw an instructor talking on his cell phone while skiing. My opinion is that, in all likelihood, he spoke while skiing in order to AVOID having to use his cell phone on the lift, when he SHOULD have been giving his full attention to his students. Since apparently he was near the bottom of the run when you saw him, it is unlikely that he was interrupting an important demo, or ignoring his students, in any way. You have not convinced me that there was a safety violation, or even a potential one. Even if novice or intermediate skiers DID try to emulate the instructor, they would be putting their cell phones at more risk than anyone else! You don't have to close your eyes to use a cell phone!

I'm not trying to pick a fight. And I'm not trying to defend this instructor, either, because I too don't know the full details. But there is at least a reasonable chance, in my opinion, that the instructor acted with utmost professionalism, and highest regard for safety. Without evidence to the contrary, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. If your body language suggested a readiness to jam a pole up his butt, I think he may have shown great restraint....

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #19 of 37
Let's see! PNW feels he has the right to meddle in a ski class if he sees something of which he disapproves? The students would seem to be the only criterion of satisfaction with the lesson.
He disapproves of cell-phone usage-is that all??
How many other activities by an instructor might offend his self-righteousness?

Most professional instructors are very protective of their students, and would regard an intrusion by a stranger as a possible threat to the group. Especially an intrusion by someone who obviously has an anger management issue.

When one is intellectually vacuous, ad hominem attacks seem to be the last resort. That way one does not have to deal with the issues raised.
post #20 of 37
I decided that bringing out the cell phone for any other reason than an emergency or to find a buddy on the moutain, is dorkness with a capitol D.

So, I'm no longer going to do it.

I'd appreciate it if the world would do the same.
post #21 of 37
After reading some of the posts and thinking more about it I agree we need to know the reasons. I also think however the instructor as a professional on the hill could have handled it better. At our hill it's pretty easy to get back to the ski school meeting area and the supervisor keeps our schedules pretty well but on Whistler or Blackcomb when it can take quite a bit of time to move around I can see the use of Cell phones to setup appointments or check in.
post #22 of 37
Thread Starter 
Skiswift - My message to you was because of the offensive tone and remarks you made in your first post. If you drag down a conversation to the level of petty name calling and sarcasm don't be suprised when you make people pissed with you.

Bob - I have already stated that we can all ski safely, or at least think we can, while chatting on our cellphones. Hell some of us can probably even juggle or maybe work a lap top. It doesn't make it good practice and certainly isn't the example that any instructor should set in front of either his students or the other patrons on the mountain.

Let's just agree to disagree on this.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 06, 2002 08:34 PM: Message edited 2 times, by PNWBRIT ]</font>
post #23 of 37
If it wasn't an emergency, or a call made with the approval of and for the benefit of the student somehow - then it wasn't cool.

I do have to wonder however, from the tone used in his posts here, how "polite" the confrontation with the instructor actually was? I do agree that the post he was responding to was also out of line, but I still have to at least wonder.

Since none of us were there, none of us will ever know any of the specifics for sure.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 06, 2002 07:36 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Todd M. ]</font>
post #24 of 37
Skiing with a cell phone? That is so dorky!

"Dork award, dork award".
post #25 of 37
Last time I went skiing, I carried my cellphone around with me on the mountains for a week. I didn't use it once. That is just the way it should be.
post #26 of 37
Speaking of dorky, I saw a customer snowboarding up on the mountain the other day, he had a cell phone somehow rigged to his helmet so that it was firmly attached and he could stand in line and talk on it without touching it (he was) and do the same while riding I suppose. It was quite stupid.
post #27 of 37
The snowboarder gets a dork award.

I think I'm going to have to print up some stickers, cards, something that we can hand to people when they qualify.

"Here. I'd like to give you something. Have a nice day".

hee hee.
post #28 of 37
I carry one. But use it for emergencies only. If I see someone on the ground I ask them if their all right. If not, and they need the patrol, it's real easy to give them a call and hang with the injured guest until the patrol arrive. I've busted my butt and needed the patrol both when I had the phone and when I didn't. The one time I did have it I was in an area by myself and it might have been awhile before anyone came by. So it was a good thing to have. I called them and they were there in ten minutes.

But I do have to go along with it is very unprofessional to be talking on the phone when one is giving a lesson. I just turn the ring off, and if it vibrates, I may take it out to find out who it was and return their call later.---------Wigs
post #29 of 37
As an instructor (of history, not on skiing), I have gotten quite annoyed whenever students have had pagers/cell phones/etc. go off. The politely annoyed way of dealing with this is to simply glare huffily at the source of the noise and carry on. I have never had to say a word about it; students tend to know it's not a good move to have the thing go off in class. Since obviously I would NEVER take a call if I had a phone go off, I certainly would not allow the phone to ring, either. The only time I have ever used it "on" is when my watch stopped and I wanted to know what time it was (the phone has a digital clock readout), so I've turned it on with the volume at "0".

If I were a student of a ski instructor, I would be miffed if any other student had a phone go off and would feel that way as well about the instructor, unless, as it was said, the call had to do with the class or some emergency. But from 9:50-11:10 am those two mornings a week I am incommunicato and it is a bit hard for me to believe that any instructor cannot do the same for an hour.

I did find it interesting that the lift is seen as NOT the opportunity to tackle some unforeseen situation that might involve a phone (locating a parent, whatever) but on the slope might be. What's the rationale?


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 07, 2002 11:44 AM: Message edited 2 times, by lisakaz ]</font>
post #30 of 37
you make an good point with regard to being incommunicado. Although, to put relation to it. My lesson work day doesn't go from 9:50 to 11:10. But Rather, 9:00-4:00.
Also, as an human I try to put it on the least obnoxious ring possible.

We must put things in perspective here.

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