Snowshoe Ski and Snowboard School
February 1, 2003
Well I never thought I'd see the day I would have to rip on Snowshoe. I've been there so many times and its been really good to me but this time I have to speak up.
Myself and 15 other people went to Snowshoe this past weekend. We had a pretty mixed group with some first timers some novices and a few advanced skiers and riders. 4 of our group took snowboarding lessons on Saturday and every single one of them agreed that the instructor was awful. Apparantly she didn't teach them basics such as how to fall, how to get up when you fall. The basics of how edges work, turning or stopping. In essence not a whole lot. I understand groups can be hard to teach depending on the abilities of the group. But knowing what I know of the group there were some in there who had the potential to do pretty well.
One of the other things that really annoyed me and others was the fact that beginner lessons require a full price lift ticket. Even if you get an afternoon lift ticket thats still $40 after 12:30. The problem with that is that the lesson doesnt start till 2:00pm. So for a beginner you are wasting 1 1/2 hours standing around because you really don't know what to do. By the time the lesson gets underway you may use the lift once maybe twice. Why can't they include the lift tickets for beginner clasess in the lesson price?
Put it this way. Snowshoe relies on repeat business and word of mouth to make money. From my group there are probably 5 people who will not go to Snowshoe again to learn how to ski or board because its just too pricey. Think how many other people make that same decision. If Snowshoe wants remain profitable, make the vacation affordable and more attractive. The mountain is great, the pricing needs work.
Going back to the snowboarding class. I remember my first class in snowboarding. There was fifteen of us and within 2 hours our instructor had us riding lifts, standing, turning, stopping and controlling our speed along with giving us the techniques to tackle more difficult terrain. To be very honest I am pretty miffed with the situation and I sent an e-mail to Snowshoe outlining my disappointment but as yet I've not received a reply.
I have a number of friends who had never skied. The other weekend I went in a simmilar mixed group to whitetail for the day.
My philosophy is that if I invite people with me and they dont know what they are doing than I am like the host and Ambassador of Skiing and I should do my best to show them what its all about. So I usually teach them the basics of falling (they ususally figgure this out on their own ), gliding wedge, shallow turns etc... Before I turn them loose on the learning hill. I don't think this replaces a real lesson, but it sure is helpful for a first timer who doesnt even know how to put on the boots and skis. That way when lesson time rolls arround they already know the very basics and can focus on truning and more advanced stuff at that time.
I agree that for the first or second timer you really should go to a place with a learn to ski package rental, lesson, lift all included. A number of local places have this type of thing. Whitetail, Liberty, and Round Top all seem to have this sort of package.
I am sorry your friends had a bad 1st experience learning, but at every resort there are good and not so good instructors; it makes no difference if the resort is the likes of SnowShoe or a local hill like Ski Liberty. I agree that you should have looked for a resort with a complete learn-to-Ski package. Generally the smaller ski areas are better at this; for example, the Liberty/Roundtop/Whitetail group has inexpensive packages including lesson, lift ticket and ski/snowboard rental with serious discounts for a second day package.
I agree, I've seen Liberty and Whitetail's learn to ski packages and they are very good. The point I'm getting at is that Snowshoe really gouges beginners, I'm sure some to the point of putting them off skiing or riding again. I was pretty much the same way as TBone. I tried to get everyone set up with the equipment. Made sure they knew a few basic things then trusted the instructor to do the rest. I talked to one of them again yesterday to get a better feel for exactly how many were in the class and how it was operated. There were only 5 people in the class, may aswell have been a private lesson. I think it will be a long time before any of them go skiing or riding at Snowshoe again.
Getting new people interested in snow sports is a big concern of all ski resorts. Demographically, the numbers do not look good for this sport. Aging baby boomers are dropping out of this sport like flies and not enough newbies are coming in to replace them. If the sport wants to continue to prosper, it needs more and more new skiers and boarders. We're competing against warm beaches and plush cruise ships for vacation dollars. It's tough to get new people interested in skiing or riding in cold climates. They simply don't believe us when we boast of the feelings of freedom, exploration, and adventure that this sport gives us.
I've thought a long time about how to make things easier for new skiers and reduced prices are certainly a step in the right direction. Beginners should also be given smaller classes and more specialized treatment.
At Sunday River, there's a whole center for beginners called "Perfect Turn." You come in to a warm room with a fire, meet an instructor, talk a bit about your expectations and fears, and then watch a movie while sipping hot coco. After the movie, skis or boards are brought directly to you by the instructor (there's no waiting in rental lines), and then you hit a special slope segregated from the rest of the mountain. It's just you and your coach, no crowds, no worries, no problem....
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 01-29-2003).]
It's not just the beginners that Snowshoe couldn't care less about. Two of us advanced skiers went to the Ski School desk one afternoon to sign up for 2 PRIVATE lessons ($$$ was no object) to be dissed and told to "come back tomorrow". All Snowshoe cares about now is realty sales! If we had said we wanted lessons and a condo - Alberto Tomba would have appeared!!!
I am a new convert to skiing. I invested a substantial amount of time and money into learning the basics of what is a very expensive sport. It shouldn't have to be that way. Skiing is marvelous; its graceful, exhilarating, challenging, it takes place outdoors in snow and breathtaking mountains, it de-stresses you and gives you a feeling of accomplishment at the end of every run.
Up until recently, there really have been few learn-to-ski/board options other than the occasional 'beginners day' at local resorts. I notice that Ski Liberty is now offering Adult Development programs encompassing 4/6 sessions including instructor and lift ticket at a reasonable price. But that is the exception rather than the rule. What can we do to get some of these resorts to bite the financial bullet a bit in order to develop new skiers/riders? I think if the initial cost of learning was reduced there would be a lot more interest.
for johnfmh ...
I am definitely a very "aging baby boomer" and learned to ski last year ... at the age of 58. I'm doing blues confidently and hope to try my hand at easier blacks by the end of this season. Not all of us want to slather our cellulite in sunscreen and plant our sagging bits in a deck chair. As far as economics are concerned; for what it costs for 6 days on middling cruise ship, I can spend 2-3 weeks at a top ski resort. No contest.
I want to encourage everyone to fill out the guest surveys / feedback forms and even write Snowshoe directly with all of your concerns. They need to hear what many of us are saying and thinking. We all want a better experience. If you want to go to the top.....
Bruce D. Pittet
Vice President and General Manager
Snowshoe Mountain Resort
P.O. Box 10, 1 Snowshoe Drive
Snowshoe, WV 26209
Thanks rimfire. I e-mailed someone called bjohnson and they haven't replied. I had asked this person minor queries before I left last week and had a reply in a matter of hours. I wrote a complaint Monday morning and have not heard anything since.
Kennedy - if you do send a letter to Mr. Pittet, and don't get a written response from somebody - I would like to know (keep in mind that snail mail to Snowshoe is truly snail-like). I am a property owner there and would be very concerned if Snowshoe management was totally ignoring the guests. I know that there are many people there who care about the guest experience. I do wonder sometimes about priorities.
Will do rimfire. Tell the truth the past two times I've booked lodging its been through Spruce Realty. They are really nice folks and they have treated me well.
I agree about people the nonskiers not understanding what skiing is all about. I started skiing when I was a kid (like 11 years old) and having that sort of life long association with a sport indroduces a sort of child like acceptance and lack of analysis to a persons thinking about a thing. My good friend who had never been skiing before last week made a telling comment to me after his first time out. He said that he had no idea how unique and imersive it is to be out on the mountain with such a wide open space in front of you. For some reaons I had never thought about it and I came to realize how unique and difficult to describe the skiing experience is. Its like driving a car for the first time or something. All of a sudden the world get that much bigger, another barrier broken. Its a whole new world.
Quite right, lets go skiing.
[This message has been edited by TBONE (edited 01-29-2003).]
To combine a little of what John and Rich said. Snowshoe and all the other resorts want realty sales. Try selling realty if nobody goes to your resort. Their prime draw is skiing and unless more skiiers and snowboarders pick up the sport and want to go to these destinations they are not going to sell realty. I think skiing always had this image of being for the richer echelons of society, thats no longer the case. I agree bite the bullet and spend the money on getting the beginners into the sport.
Way to go Snowcone! I'm glad to hear about people in your age cohort who take the plunge and learn to ski. What many new skiers don't realize when they first confront the mountain environment is that skiing opens up a whole new world to the uninitiated. It's a special feeling to be on top of a mountain, in the snow, in the middle of the winter, and yes even in the cold (it helps us burn more calories). The higher and steeper the mountains, the greater the sense of awe, but one can also experience these special feelings even in our very own Mid-Atlantic backyard. I can't tell you how many times I have felt blessed just to be sitting on a lift moving slowly up the face of Timberline in WV. People may laugh, but this sport delivers feelings of transcendence. You have to be careful not to let it get to your head but every rider or skier knows that what keeps pushing them to continue with sport. Well, enough philosophizing! Time to ski.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 01-29-2003).]
Thought of the day: On Wednesday, 1/22/03 I had a great ski day at Whitetail. The snow was excellent. It was 15 degrees, but the sun was really bright. At one point, standing near the top of a run, I turned to my friend and said, "right now the people back at the office or on a work route are loudly pissin' and moanin' about how cold it is. And here we are as skiers, after being outside for 3 hours, talking about how warm the sun feels and how clear the views are." For outdoorsy types I just feel that skiing adds 3 months of life to each year. We're out there reveling in a season that many others find depressing and interminable.
I too am a property owner at Snowshoe and feel that real estate (INTRAWEST) is becoming way too much of a focus and less on skiing. Write to Bruce Pettit and voice your complaints! That Perfect Turn system previously described sounds wonderful. I've always thought that anyone who sticks with skiing after coping with the wind, cold etc. on Skidder has courage! I also agree that lift tickets should be included for beginners. But if you do take a lesson, remember that they are paid very little and if the instructor was good (which most are), please tip at least a little!
For me, depressing is summer. When it's above 80 degrees, 100% humidity, just leave me inside with the AC. I love the colder temperatures and thrive in them. In fact, I'm in California this week and it's been 70. That's depressing!
its a great feeling! I wish I could ski more!