or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Highest Moments

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
Every year when the mountain closes and I get my last paycheck (with the yearly totals), I have a low moment where I think I am on the wrong track. Shouldn't I get a real job with a real paycheck year-round, and quit deluding myself that "ski instructors make a difference"? Objectively, I know I should!

But if I quit teaching, I would give up the context where I have had some of my highest moments, while sharing in other people's highest moments. I sense this isn't something that happens much at the office -- despite Microsoft's admen's attempts to sell us otherwise.

How can I leave teaching when I know that next year on her 10th birthday, like they have the past couple of years, Holly's parents are going to give her a private lesson with me, and it will be her special gift. I am honored and at the same time blessed because I've had my highest moments skiing with Holly, who is one of the most talented young skiers I've ever worked with--and I've worked with a few at her age who were quite remarkable too, but none who had her facility for learning. I literally do not have to say or demo anything more than once. She's a sponge. I saw her parents skiing the last day I was up and they mentioned that Holly can't wait for her next birthday.

Me neither. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] Holly's the youngest of my students and the one with the greatest potential (being so young and so talented) but I do not mean to say that my other students are not equally prone to creating magical moments when everything clicks and everyone knows it. You can feel the endorphins banging against each other in the air space we occupy.

So, how about you guys? What's the intermittent reinforcement that keeps you coming back each fall to sign your seasonal employment papers?
post #2 of 40
It seems to get harder each year, especially when you add up the airfare and other travel costs, the extra rent you pay, the various costs of gear that wears out so fast because you have to use it in such a way. Your pants get shredded, your skis wrecked top and bottom.

I find now that when I teach, I expect to make quite a difference. Sometimes it doesn't seem to be happening, and that comes as a nasty realisation. Then again, quite often the ones you thought you didn't help tell you later that they had a great lesson, so there you go.
post #3 of 40
Nolo,

I have a real job and a real paycheck year round. Then on winter weekends I go teach. I've had some rewarding moments at my real job, but not nearly as many as from teaching. Another plus is that this year I got a bigger end of year bonus from teaching than I did from my day job.
post #4 of 40
I'm jealous! While I had a pleasant time with most of my classes this year, I didn't have any really rewarding experiences. I love to teach topics that generate passion for me, and I have taught a number of them. I was hoping that teaching skiing would be like that, as well. Unfortunately, I found that the requirement to "do my time" with the youngest never-evers to limit my upside.

I did have one class with two 4-year-olds who made it to linked turns in their first lesson. I was very pleased. But, I did not view that as a breakthrough. And, for me, it is those breakthroughs that feed my teaching passion.

At this point, I don't know if I'll ever have the opportunity to teach skiing again. I would certainly like to see what it's like to teach older kids and adults to see if I can experience the excitement of breakthrough. But...
post #5 of 40
Nolo,

Ask all of those out there with real jobs what they would choose if they had their lives to live over again.
post #6 of 40
Ullr,

I, for one, would only have started teaching part time earlier in my life. Without my day job I never would have experienced so many of the worlds ski resorts. These experiences have created a depth of love for the sport that has put me deep in debt to the sport. I teach to help repay the debt and to hopefully enable others to more quickly develop the skills so that they too can have these experiences. But I've also discovered that working to become a better teacher has improved skills that I use in my day job. Sure, if I could make the same money, I'd rather teach. For now, I'll keep that day job.
post #7 of 40
Nolo

a great thread Nolo and what a shame there aren't more like you, still too many out there for whom skiteaching is a free liftpass and a chance to show off. I get a real kick out of the progress from the least likely quarters (which is just as well as my involvement is very low end), someone clicks with a particular analogy or whatever and however small the step, to them it's huge.
post #8 of 40
Hey, if you love teaching and skiing, then you have one of the best jobs around.

Craig
post #9 of 40
Best of both worlds for me...after 12 years of teaching, I hung it up for a 'desk job'...which fortunately for me includes a lot of skiing. Now I ski for my own pleasure, enjoy the bitter cold days when I can ski if I want...or not. I still stand in for some clinics and help out when requested by friends or past students, just to keep my toes in the water.
post #10 of 40
Highest moments.
Yes, nolo, I still get some of my highest moments from ski teaching. I also get some of my highest moments from my new desk job. I have to listen to what people want and what their goals are. I then do everything I can to assist them in fullfilling those goals. My listening, caring and guiding are very similar in this new career to what I felt were/are my strengths in ski teaching.

I'm not ready to give up my minimal teaching, but I sure do enjoy getting paid what I'm worth when I make the connection, move the client toward their goal.

As you know, I've gone the other way and it's starting to pay off, but I do still enjoy being a part of creating high quality moments.

So, we need you. your students need you. but those of us that make the opposite decision don't neccessarily sacrifice those moments.

cheers,
Wade
post #11 of 40
Thread Starter 
SSG, Sounds like you have found a perfect situation for you. Is your desk job at a ski area?

I saw my former ski school director the other day at the retail store he works at now. He said he hadn't put skis on all year and he was fine with that. It seems like a lot of people who leave the business lose their jones for skiing.
post #12 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by therusty:
Another plus is that this year I got a bigger end of year bonus from teaching than I did from my day job.
Not to delve into your private affairs, but did you actually just say that as a PT ski instructor you actually received a season-end bonus? And it sounds like it was a substantial one at that!

Could I ask you and other instructors just how common this is, because this is completely unheard of at my area, and from all the complaints I hear about pay from instructors at other ski areas, I suspect that bonuses are equally uncommon elsewhere as well.

About the only bonus-like money I have ever heard discussed is when a rookie instructor makes it successfully through his first year and is invited to return, some areas return the fee the instructor paid for the training course he was required to take. Of course, many people would say that since the instructor training course is a condition of employment, no fee should have been charged in the first place.

(the)Rusty, do you do some other type of work for your area besides teaching that might have been the source of your bonus?

-----------------------
SSH - I'm surprised that even in your rookie year you were stuck teaching little kids exclusively when you would have prefered to also teach older kids and adults. At our area, even the rookies, if they are at regular lineups, get a shot at adults up to about level 3. The only way you wind up with just kids is if you specifically signed up for our kid's program. The reason instructors do this is because it pretty much guarantees more hours than you would get doing lineups.


J
post #13 of 40
Thread Starter 
Congrats to you, Holiday, on making the transition to full-time salaried work while continuing to teach on a pared-back schedule. I think that is what I would call a balanced life, so long as the family agrees.

The former assistant SSD at my school has a good job in town now and is a recreational skier. I see him and his wife out with their two kids a lot, and the kids are obviously benefiting from his change of work. I wonder how many families of working pros do without instruction--you know, like the shoemaker's child goes barefoot?
post #14 of 40
Good question, nolo, as we transit into spring.
If you, my Epicski friends, don't mind a little personal sharing, read on:

20 years ago I had no idea I'd become a ski instructor by vocation. In fact, I was working at a newspaper, hoping to move on to editor status at an urban magazine. I'm glad it never happened. Somehow life serendipitously brought me to this humble and wonderful work that seems to suit me best.
There's an interesting book out there called Now, Develop Your Strengths (written by the same guys who wrote First, Break All the Rules). It's a management book based on a bunch of leadership research by the Gallup Organization, and basically says that the foundation for happiness and high achievement is in exercising your strengths (duh!), not correcting your weaknesses.
It includes a test you can take to find out just what your assets or "themes" are, out of a list of a possible 34. This test was really enlightening.
My themes were: Strategic, Input, Learner, Maximizer, Individualization. In reading the descriptions of these "themes" I realized I was reading an encapsulation of my ski teaching life and process.
After that I finally understood why I feel like I'm in a flow state whenever I'm working on the mountain. What a gift is that! Even though I could make more money somewhere else and perhaps lead a more comfortable life, being here and doing this just feels right.
post #15 of 40
Didelis_Skier,

My bonus was for working for the whole season from start to finish. Some of our pros don't start until after Xmas. Others seem to take the whole months of Feb or March off for personal trips. It worked out to about 50 cents/hr.
post #16 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by Ullr:
Ask all of those out there with real jobs what they would choose if they had their lives to live over again.
Some of us love our "real jobs," too. I love the opportunity to mentor and guide others in those areas where I am really effective plus the excitement of making a difference in the world. That said, I have enjoyed my brief experience teaching skiing. It's just not as bad in the "real world" as some would have us believe...
post #17 of 40
I love both my jobs-- I teach instrumental music to kids and skiing to grownups. My work is play. My play is work. What a life!
post #18 of 40
[quote]Originally posted by ssh:

Quote:
It's just not as bad in the "real world" as some would have us believe...
The "real world" is simply the one we choose to live in.
post #19 of 40
My biggest high this year was on our hardest green run. I followed my student down through some pretty soft spring snow for one run and I told him that next year we would probably be able to move into some easy blues. Five seasons ago it took us three hours to make two runs down our beginning hill. Two seasons before that Dennis woke up in a hospital with the Dr. telling him that a stroke had paralized his left side and he would never be able to walk again.

yd
post #20 of 40
Nice comment from ydnar.

Excuse a recreational skier for dipping into an instructor's thread for a ramble on "the grass is always greener".
I've been skiing since I was a boy. As a young college grad in the 1970s I chose the "real" working world of the urban east coast, when older relatives had thoughtfully suggested instead that I try working at a western ski resort for a year or more. 25 yrs later I've done OK with my "responsible" choice; respectable job, great wife, fun kids, modest yearly doses of recreational skiing. But I've never gotten enough ski/mtn time to satisfy and when retirement comes in 5-10 yrs I'm thinking of the west again possibly to become a rookie instructor or a mtn host or a gray haired patroller. You folks who live and work full time at fine ski locales are definitely envied by us desk jockeys and weekend warriors, but I know you've made a choice that involves beauty and sacrifice (except for the few Stein Eriksons at top of ski biz pay scale). Eventually we all have to be happy and make peace with our lot in life. We're lucky to live in the land of opportunity and diversity.
Here's a comment I wrote about my recent and only visit to Eldora ski area in Colorado:
Besides some darn fine tangibles, there's a great intangible quality at Eldora. To innocently interpret a line from an old R.E.M. song, it seems full of shiny, happy people. Management, instructors, lifties, food service and rental personnel all go about their business in a pleasant, helpful, and upbeat manner. Maybe because they know they have it GOOD with terrain, scenery, proximity, affordability, and a routinely low crowd factor that most of us East Coast smog suckers can only dream about.
post #21 of 40
It's hard to talk about the highs without talking abouut the lows. Sometimes they are just a few minutes apart!

For me one of the highs was seeing the ETU take shape this year at my home mountain. Part of the impetus for organizing it in the first place was wanting to share what I had learned in clinics last year by getting Bears skiing with the great clinicians we have had here. A low was not being able to ski with the ETU group at all, as I was given a year long weekend group that very day. The instructor originally assigned to it had visa troubles and could not make it to Stowe this winter.

The very next week, two twins got added to my group. The group was so big I hardly noticed, so we headed up the gondola. About halfway down we waited for the group to reassemble. And waited, and waited....

Finally the new girls wedged into view. I was thinking they weren't even in the same league as the other kids. It would have been so easy to just give them to another instructor and be done with them. Instead, I had my partner take the rest of the group (like 15 kids or so), and I took the twins over to Spruce for the rest of the weekend. Long story short, they had only been skiing for a few days vs. the rest of the group which had been skiing 3-5 years. By the end of the year, they were easily the strongest skiers in the group.

In fact one of my highs for the year was taking the twins and two other kids down Starr in February. The low being breaking my thumb on the runout at the bottom.

I could go on, but like you Nolo, I was doing my taxes, and had to wonder what the hell I'm doing.
post #22 of 40
Thread Starter 
My first SSD was a ski instructor from Snowbird who stepped up to the management team at a small Montana area. He stayed at the smaller mountain several years, then moved to a bigger area in Montana to run their ski school, and then moved to another state to be the marketing director of a similar-sized ski area, then another move to Colorado to run ski school and marketing. Now, 23 years since I first met him, he's back teaching skiing at The Canyons. He was named to SKI's Top-100 ski instructors last year.

He was a great director and last I looked that small ski area in Montana was still coasting on the marketing he did in the early '80s, but he came back to the line-up. "I just love working with the people," he said, when I asked about it last year.
post #23 of 40
Quote:
Here's a comment I wrote about my recent and only visit to Eldora ski area in Colorado:
Besides some darn fine tangibles, there's a great intangible quality at Eldora. To innocently interpret a line from an old R.E.M. song, it seems full of shiny, happy people. Management, instructors, lifties, food service and rental personnel all go about their business in a pleasant, helpful, and upbeat manner. Maybe because they know they have it GOOD with terrain, scenery, proximity, affordability, and a routinely low crowd factor that most of us East Coast smog suckers can only dream about.
I took the red eye back from Summit County this past weekend. Taking the dirty, slow and over crowded subway back to Brookline, I could not help but contrast this hostile urban environment to the paradise where I had been that weekend.

As a freelancer, I spend a ridiculous amount of time under ground, paying high prices for a transit system whose workers only goal is to make you late for work. Jealous of the fact that you might have a job that you actually enjoy, they trap you in Hades, while they scream at you in a language that barely sounds like English "Move to the Rear, Move to the rear of the car!"

While not a ski instructor, I enjoy working with recreational skiers, helping them achieve the fitness goals that will enhance their sport. In Boston, and even in my home town New York City, I can earn a reasonable amount of money doing this.

I always thought that I would stay a city girl forever. But in the past 5 years, my own "highest moments" have been at altitude.

While waiting for retirement to forgo the urban life may be the frugal choice, the cost to my sanity is unaffordable.

Besides, I want to enjoy a better life while I'm still young enough to appreciate it.

[ April 16, 2004, 04:41 PM: Message edited by: Lisamarie ]
post #24 of 40
So when ya movin' out here, Lisamarie?
post #25 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by Jamesj:
Here's a comment I wrote about my recent and only visit to Eldora ski area in Colorado:
Besides some darn fine tangibles, there's a great intangible quality at Eldora. To innocently interpret a line from an old R.E.M. song, it seems full of shiny, happy people. Management, instructors, lifties, food service and rental personnel all go about their business in a pleasant, helpful, and upbeat manner. Maybe because they know they have it GOOD with terrain, scenery, proximity, affordability, and a routinely low crowd factor that most of us East Coast smog suckers can only dream about. [/QB]
I have had the wonderful opportunity to work at Eldora full time for the past four seasons. You hit the nail right on the head.

Next time you are in our little corner of the ski world please come by the ski school and say hello. I'll show you a few neat glades full of snow
post #26 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by vera:
So when ya movin' out here, Lisamarie?
Soon! When everything is set, I'll let on the details!
post #27 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by Lisamarie:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr /> Here's a comment I wrote about my recent and only visit to Eldora ski area in Colorado:
Besides some darn fine tangibles, there's a great intangible quality at Eldora. To innocently interpret a line from an old R.E.M. song, it seems full of shiny, happy people. Management, instructors, lifties, food service and rental personnel all go about their business in a pleasant, helpful, and upbeat manner. Maybe because they know they have it GOOD with terrain, scenery, proximity, affordability, and a routinely low crowd factor that most of us East Coast smog suckers can only dream about.
I took the red eye back from Summit County this past weekend. Taking the dirty, slow and over crowded subway back to Brookline, I could not help but contrast this hostile urban environment to the paradise where I had been that weekend.

As a freelancer, I spend a ridiculous amount of time under ground, paying high prices for a transit system whose workers only goal is to make you late for work. Jealous of the fact that you might have a job that you actually enjoy, they trap you in Hades, while they scream at you in a language that barely sounds like English "Move to the Rear, Move to the rear of the car!"

While not a ski instructor, I enjoy working with recreational skiers, helping them achieve the fitness goals that will enhance their sport. In Boston, and even in my home town New York City, I can earn a reasonable amount of money doing this.

I always thought that I would stay a city girl forever. But in the past 5 years, my own "highest moments" have been at altitude.

While waiting for retirement to forgo the urban life may be the frugal choice, the cost to my sanity is unaffordable.

Besides, I want to enjoy a better life while I'm still young enough to appreciate it.
</font>[/quote]NEVER take a surfing lesson LM - you will be totally stuffed up if you do...
post #28 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by Lisamarie:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by vera:
So when ya movin' out here, Lisamarie?
Soon! When everything is set, I'll let on the details! </font>[/quote]Hmmm... I was thinking about that Pilates studio just today. I'll ask my questions on the Fitness forum one of these days, LM...
post #29 of 40
After some serous thought as to whether I should try instructing again I took the plunge and rejoined the instructor ranks. It was a good choice. I’ve renewed old friendships, found new friends, had some interesting experiences, improved my skiing, and introduced quite a few new people to the joys of skiing. I was more than a little rusty at first but it all came back. Hopefully next year I’ll pass part one of level 2. Overall a good year and looking forward to next season. The instructors and supervisors are a really great group of people. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #30 of 40
All season I have had some great moments while formally teaching however I think the highest moment so far this season was last week. I was "teaching" my niece and nephew while at Alta, and practicing my teaching skills with them.

At the end of the second day, my sister asked my niece what she learned. Her response "nothing" in that kinda bored way some kids have. But everyone that watched her ski commented on how much her skiing has changed in just a day or 2. Then after lesson time and lunch we were just out free skiing and both my niece and nephew were out trying the few "exercises" we had taught them. Things like airplane turns, bunny hops, shuffle turns, 360's etc. They were doing them just because they were fun but we all knew that these games were giving them new movement patterns that will take them far in skiing. [img]smile.gif[/img]

Then having them want to ski a "human slalom" with the family over and over was great fun.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching