EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Reckless behaviour on ski instructor courses
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Reckless behaviour on ski instructor courses

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Well I'm at home lying in bed with a broken rib, a black eye and numerous cuts and bruises after being wiped out on the first day of a level 2 instructor course.....by one of the other course participants.


Witnesses to the collision were quite certain that I was the innocent party. I was skiing short radius turns down one side of a wide piste fully under control. I didn't even see the guy who hit me, he came full speed into my side after seemingly losing control. He swerved between two other skiers on the piste and broadsided me. It's also clear that he set off down the piste after me and was travelling much faster (he was skiing on 25m radius GS skis, whereas I was on 12m radius slalom skis). He was therefore overtaking me and should have kept clear.


Well, that was not a happy experience but unfortunately it's something I saw on the level one instructor course I went on last year when another course participant lost control and crashed off the side of the piste. He only injured himself.... The basic problem seems to me to be that a minority of participants on this type of course seem to feel obliged to show off to other course participants how fast they can ski. I can ski pretty fast myself, but obviously I use some discretion and only let rip on empty pistes or race tracks.


Does anyone else have experience of this kind of macho behaviour on instructor courses? Maybe I have just been unlucky. How would you deal with this kind of situation if you were the course leader? I don't know what action the leader took after the accident. Obviously his first priority was first aid, determining what injuries I had and how to get me down from the mountain. What he did after that I don't know.


One or two other reflections:


I took a very heavy blow to the side of the face/head. I am glad I was wearing a helmet. My skiing goggles shattered under the impact but quite possibly saved my eye from serious damage. I will never ski without eye protection ever again! I was also wearing a back protector, whether that helped I am not sure - where my rib is broken is just outside of the region that the protection covers.


I had already observed that he was skiing recklessly. I am kicking myself that I wasn't more careful to keep out of his way. If and when I re-do the course I will (a) always make sure I am above anybody I feel is skiing unwisely. and (b) talk to the course leader and ask him/her to make sure that people ski sensibly.


I will also be writing to the educational director of the organisation which ran the course. I haven't quite decided what to say, I want to be constructive, not just get angry. One thing I am definitely going to suggest is that the course leader should hold a safety briefing at the start of each days skiing. He/she should also make it clear that skiing responsibly and setting a good example is a critical duty of a ski instructor and that participants risk failing the course if they ski recklessly.



post #2 of 10

I have never been on a ski instructor's course.  However if I were running that course and things unfolded as you describe, then I would send that reckless skier packing.  Go directly home, do not pass go, do not collect your 200 dollar refund, and consider yourself lucky you are not in jail.


Of course there may be extenuating circumstances.  Acceptable excuses include: he had an aneurysms burst, he mixed up his meds and was having a schizophrenic episode, someone was shooting at him and he was trying to escape with his life.  


About that letter, write it and keep it overnight and reread it in the morning before you send it.

post #3 of 10

I always tend to prefer to go last - or very much first and fast - when I'm in any kind of training clinic, or group skiing with good skiers.  Hard to have someone pass you when you're in the back.

post #4 of 10

Every clinic, every lesson here we are told/are supposed to express the importance of safe skiing.  We make and experience constant reminders of the safety "bubble" everyone should practice regarding others on the slope.  We begin every movement from a stand-still with reminders to look uphill before starting out.  How your collision could occur in a training program is unimaginable.

post #5 of 10

Could you tell us more about what a "level 2 instructor course" is? Was this for Swedish ski instructors or in another country? This sounds like an exam for certification.



In most of the instructor courses I've been in it is sufficient for the course instructor to remind everyone to space out and give each other room and sometimes to suggest that people rejoin the group from the downhill side vs the uphill side. We're all professionals, we should know this already. When I'm teaching new instructor candidates, I purposely don't mention these things up front so that I can observe safety habits. But I also start out on beginner terrain and have a good idea of who needs a talking to before we do any skiing at speed and I continually talk about safety throughout the day. I've never had anyone in my groups that I've lead who has had a "reckless" problem. I have been a participant in groups with people who needed to be given (cough) more room, but not to the point of calling them reckless. In the Eastern division of PSIA we hold a 5 day training course every year that involves 400-500 instructors skiing on early season limited terrain that I've been to many times over 15 years. We get injuries every year (from falls) and although I've personally never witnessed a collision with injury among participants and can't recall hearing of one, I would not be surprised if some had happened. But if they do, it's very rare.


The fact that you had determined that the other skier was reckless before the accident is of concern. If you had shared your observations with the course conductor and he had taken no action, things would be at another level here. Regardless, the course conductor probably should have seen the same things and taken action independently. What skiing task had been assigned and whether or not the reckless skier was performing that task or something different is also relevant. At the least, the other guy should have failed and you should be getting a refund of your course fee. Also, the organization could possibly arrange for a special retest once you have recovered from your injuries. For your letter, my suggestion is to start by stating your position that the course conductor was partially responsible for the collision and as such your fee should be refunded. Regarding future procedural changes, you might start by asking what the current procedures are and if there are any changes the organization plans to make in response to this incident.


Best wishes on a speedy recovery.

post #6 of 10

hyperkub, a couple years ago I was chatting up a veteran ski instructor who teaches at a large US resort. We were talking about risks I assumed instructors face from their students. Apparently I was wrong. He said most instructors are injured when they are skiing with their fellow teachers. Pent up testosterone form teaching?

post #7 of 10


Mark, so glad your injuries are not life threatening and hoping you recover well and quickly. Not unheard of for this to happen in clinics. Fortunately not common or frequent.
Ski Instructors come from and are a reflection of the population and community of snow sliders. Taking for granted the title/position of instructor means someone knows, understands, practices and has the self control to slide safely is a poor assumption often made. We can't assume our fellow drivers on the freeway will maintain safe distances anymore than our fellow ski Instructors will on the slopes. Safety safety , awareness, self control, and using good judgement are all part of the ongoing development process of a profession and living life.

This experience has given you the opportunity to advocate and educate the most important part of sliding. Safety. Come off the slopes safe and go back and enjoy with a smile another day. Education and development require speaking up about safety points and violations needing correction for a. Enjoyable day/life.
Good skiing to you when you are back on your skis
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

The course was in Sweden. There are several different bodies in Sweden which run instructor courses, typically with 3 levels where each course takes 3-4 days on the hill, plus a theory part. After completing these courses you can then present yourself for the Swedish professional instructor qualification. This is just an evaluation and is run jointly by the different organisations.


I can't actually remember what the exercise was that I was doing. I have tried very hard to remember, but my mind is just blank. In fact I remember very little about skiing that run. I know I was near the side of the piste because that's where I was after the accident. Most of what I have described is what the witnesses to the accident described to me. Funnily enough I remember in exact detail what happened in the minutes afterwards.


I have been informed that I will be able to re-do the course next year at no cost.


Yesterday I was time keeper for a children's race at my local hill. I sat next to the chair of our club who acted as speaker and is on crutches with a knee cruciate ligament injury....so we could at least laugh at each other. Even better, my son won his class and my daughter came third. yahoo.gif So I feel a bit more cheerful about skiing!

post #9 of 10

This is actually more common then you would think. I have seen instructors hurt themselves in clinics attempting to show off to the clinician.

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

Well it's now six weeks after my accident and the situation looks like this smile.gif  I still feel very stiff and I can't really pole out from the start, but at least I can ski!


Mark skiing.JPG

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Reckless behaviour on ski instructor courses