Lessons - Level I, II ??
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Eug
December 19, 2007
Member since 03/3/2005 🔗
142 posts
Branching off from the Hired thread started by Langley...

I wanted to inquire about this a while back so here it goes

Let's say that I am an 'advanced intermediate'. Most probably a level 7, borderline 8 skier. (I hope that I am not being too optimistic here...). If I wanted to take a lesson, should I request a Level II instructor? Level I? Anybody available?

I will like to spend my money and time wisely and get the most out of a lesson or lessons.

For example, last year while going up the chair in Exhibition, I saw (and heard) an instructor just skiing in front of his student and he was just saying basically, 'watch me and follow me'. From what I saw, the student was marginally able to follow his tracks. In my opinion, it did not seemed that he was getting much out of that lesson. I would hate to be in that kind of a lesson. Maybe the instructor already watched him and recommended some tips but it did not look that way. I continued seeing this lesson format several times as I went up the chair.

Back in the late 80's I spent a whole week at Grey Rocks and the level of teaching was superb. The instructor will make each of us do a move and make his recommendations right afterwards.

This post was not meant to be a rant against local instructors as I have never taken a lesson locally. My experience with instruction is only what I had at Grey Rocks. I am just trying to be a better and knowledgeable customer because like Marcy Syms says: 'An educated customer is our best customer'... :-)
TomH
December 19, 2007
Member since 07/6/2005 🔗
375 posts
Generally you would be better off with a more experienced instructor, however, there are exceptions. I'm not sure if you can request a certain level or not.

As far as the teaching technique you saw from the lift that is a extremely useful way of teaching. Watch someone do it right and then try and do it yourself. Visualization. Also, follow the leader is a good way to teach students to control their speed using turn shape ect. If you watched a bunch of lessons at any mountain you would see this all the time. Heck, the junior ski races spent the whole day doing that on Exhibition last Saturday.

Of course, this learning tool shouldn't be used to the exclusion of the many other different techniques used to teach. But this is true with all methods.
Eug
December 19, 2007
Member since 03/3/2005 🔗
142 posts
Tom,

I understand exactly what you are saying.

The reason I brought it up is because the student seemed to be all over the place on the moguls in Exhibition. His form and technique, again IMHO, did not seem to be ready to follow the instructor. From what I saw the instructor will go a good distance on the run, wait for the student, and continue on. Of course I did not see the whole thing, but I think the student will have benefited more by doing specific maneuvers under the watchful eye of the instructor while in the moguls.
TomH
December 19, 2007
Member since 07/6/2005 🔗
375 posts
Eug,

First let me correct myself. The run the racers were training on wasn't Exhibition (its not open yet), I think they call it Snow Park or some such thing.

Basically, there are three ways to run ski drills when teaching. Lets say your instructor is focusing on skill X (say pole plants or angulation):

1) The instructor talks to the group, tells them what to concentrate on and perhaps gives them a drill that reinforces the technique he is teaching. He then tells the students to watch him ski to point X (demonstrating the drill) and the each student proceeds to ski one by one to where he waits while he (she) watches. As the skier arrive he will usually comment quickly as he is watching the next skier come down.

2) The instructor talks to group ect. ect. ect. Then he tells the students to ski one by one to some point down the mountain while he watches. As the skier goes down he points out things to the waiting students as they watch the skier go down. Then when they are all waiting at point X down the hill they watch the instructor ski to them hopefully demonstrating what he wanted them to do.

3) The instructor talks to group ect. ect. Then he tells them that they will play follow the leader following him down the mountain equally spreadout.

Each way has its advantages. One shouldn't be used to the exclusion of the others. Of course, one shouldn't judge any of the different techniques by whether the student leading or following is able to mimic the instructor. This is rarely the case as developing skills is a progressive thing.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
December 19, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,857 posts
If you are reasonably certain of your level (7-8) and you are seeking a private then you need to ask for a level 3 but a level 2 will be good. The reason I hedge is that there are a lot of level 2 instructors that have the teaching and skiing knowledge to help you out but if you get a level 3, especially one who received their gold pin recently, you will know you'll be getting an appropriate lesson regardless of your level.

If you are getting a group lesson then you need to ask for an expert group. Early in the lesson the instructor will evaluate your skiing and begin to formulate your plan. It's important to talk to your instructor and be clear of your expectations. If you don't feel that whats happening in the lesson is doing you good, ask the instructor about about their method and reasoning and expected outcome. This can be tricky because most instructors are schooled not to communicate their student's weakness but instead to focus on strengths and point to areas of improvement.

An example, you want to ski the area's steepest bump run. You expect to take your lesson on that run but instead you spend your entire lesson on groomed intermediate runs. You feel disappointed and cheated. Here's the rub, yes you want to ski the expert terrain but even you might know that your skiing falls apart once you get out in the bumps. All that floundering and flailing isn't going to serve you well. In fact, bad movement habits may become ingrained and you'll end up spending a lot more time unlearning bad habits. Among the best truisms I heard was a clarification of an old adage; Perfect practice makes perfect. You should get out on that expert terrain at least a few times with your instructor, IMHO. But if the instructor isn't convinced that you can do so safely, they will not take you there. Client safety is always priority 1.

If at the end of the lesson you aren't happy, go back to the ski school desk and ask to talk to the director or manager and explain your disappointments. Be reasonable and courteous, most snow sport directors will try to make things right.

Really, the best lessons come from finding an instructor that's in sync with you and choosing by PSIA levels won't guarantee that to happen. You must communicate your expectations and if your not satisfied, your grievances then try a different instructor.
therusty
December 20, 2007
Member since 01/17/2005 🔗
422 posts
Eug,

Congratulations on trying to get more value for your $$! We need more folks like you.

An easy way to think of certification is:
Level 1 = certified for teaching beginners
Level 2 = certified for teaching intermediates
Level 3 = certified for teaching all levels
Certification is an indication of a minimal level of teaching ability. I'm only PSIA/AASI level 2 certified, but I teach all levels at Whitetail for both skiing and snowboarding. Certification is an indication that you will receive a quality lesson, but not a guarantee. Lack of certification is not a guarantee of lack of quality either. For most East coast instructors, certification costs way more than they will ever get back in increased pay. This is why there are many good instructors who don't get certified.

With respect to guarantees, most resorts will "take care of you" if you have a complaint about not receiving a quality lesson. I know this happens at Whitetail because I occasionally get called in to do "do over" lessons.

For group lessons, you can certainly ask a line up supervisor if a level 2 or level 3 certified instructor is available (arriving early helps). You won't be guaranteed to get one, but you will at least get the supervisors attention. As a backup supervisor, if I got such a request I would either accomodate it directly or, if not, at least let you know if it was possible later during the day. As a rule of thumb I prefer to use certs for higher level lessons regardless of requests. For private lessons, you should expect to get a cert if you ask for one, but you may need to make arrangements in advance or wait for a cert to become available.

I will confess to occasionally using "follow me" teaching. However, there is an art form involved in choosing the right line to lead, the right pace, the right distance to go before stopping, leading and sneaking peeks back to check on form, etc. To the casual observer on the lift it can be very hard to distinguish between an effective follow me lesson and an ineffective one. But I'm not saying that ineffective lessons don't happen.

At Whitetail, we don't have many lessons that go to Exhibition. For many of the kids that end up over there, the bump run is more of a treat at the end of the lesson then a learning experience per se. For bump specific lessons, finding the right line can make a big improvement all by itself. "Follow me" is often the most effective way to teach which bump line to take. For a lot of skiers "marginally able to follow" in the bumps could be a big step up! Sometimes what may appear to be a lesson on Exhibition may just be one instructor in uniform skiing with a significant other or another instructor out of uniform. Although I have no doubt that you could have witnessed teaching techniques that left room for improvement, as a trainer at Whitetail, I'm baffled about how you could have witnessed "watch me and follow me" "several times" throughout the day on Exhibition. I often go long stretches without taking any lessons to Exhibition. We just don't teach that much over there.

If you want to learn more about finding good instructors and teaching techniques, you might want to visit epicski.com. At Epic we have a listing of certified instructors who are available at various resorts. You can also read through their posting history to get a feel for how they teach. There have been many discussions about finding a good instructor that will pop up if you use the search feature.

A lot of people like to get instructor recommendations by word of mouth. There are plenty of people here and on epic who can recommend instructors they have taken lessons from. There are several local instructors who visit DC ski. Most of us are here to help any way that we can.
Eug
January 2, 2008
Member since 03/3/2005 🔗
142 posts
Thank you all for your very detailed and thoughtful responses.

Hopefully I will be able to make it out to the slopes pretty soon.

It would be nice if the lesson deal at WT/Liberty continued until at least mid January...

Rusty, thank you for mailing me those Snow Blast cards last year. They came in handy but I just can't understand why I did not win the season ticket that was raffled at the very end... :-)
SteveC
January 2, 2008
Member since 10/24/2005 🔗
145 posts
One of my sons and I had a great group class with Lloyd back on the 21st at Whitetail. He is a level II instructor and did one exercise with all of us but tweaked it to address our individual weaknesses. Double thumbs up for Lloyd!

At the same time, my other son was in a group lesson with another gentleman (name withheld). There was apparently no effort to differentiate instructions.

More to the point, the very thing that Lloyd was trying to instill in us (shifting pressure from one leg to another via skating) was being discouraged by this other intructor (told Ben to keep even pressure on both skis at all times). Don't know who was right but Ethan's and my skiing improved dramatically (Lloyd got me out of the backseat; I didn't even know I was there!!) while Ben felt like he had wasted 90 minutes.

One last thing. Lloyd really boosted Ethan's confidence/enthusiasm with his encouragement; Ethan really seems to be enjoying himself more than ever. We're thinking of trying to arrange a whole family lesson (two boys, wife and me) with Lloyd sometime this season. The guy's good.
Crush
January 2, 2008
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,021 posts
well... hmmm.... ok this is just *my* take on it, but worry less about what level the instructor is and more about how their teaching style matches your own learning style?

Generally the more experienced the instructor, the better they are in matching up your learning style. Like there are "thinkers" and "watchers" and "do-ers" and "feelers" tho everybody is a mix (i'm mostly feeler, then do-er ... little bit "watcher" but not much - foget "thinker"!)

A good instructor well be agile enough to match you, but everybody is different. So maybe a level 2 instructor meshes with you better than a level 3 one.

i guess just don't base it all on level ... try to find a good fit and stay with it. and know yourself as well.
Eug
January 2, 2008
Member since 03/3/2005 🔗
142 posts
Steve,

This book/dvd/video might provide more information about weighing and un-weighing your skis:

http://www.breakthroughonskis.com/Pages/new-book.html

It is by Lito Tejada Flores. I don't know how or what professional instructors feel about his technique but, from what I have applied from his book and dvds, it seems to make a lot of sense (to me) and has helped my skiing.

Any opinions on Lito's teaching methods?
Clay
January 2, 2008
Member since 04/11/2006 🔗
555 posts
I love this book. The criticism I see of it over on Epic (where the experts live ) is that it is getting out of date and things like Dynamic Anticipation are no longer used with shaped skis. While that might be true for the experts, I like knowing that I have that in my bag of tricks if I ever need it.

Another author I have benefited greatly from is Harald Harb. He can be a bit controversial because he promotes his system as the only correct one. If you just read the books you can ignore that. I understand he and Lito are friends and they share a lot of the same ideas. At Amazon

Just my 2 cents - Harb reads like an instruction manual, Lito reads like a love story. Some times I pick Lito up just to read for enjoyment. I think THE best sentence I have ever read about skiing comes from Breakthrough - "But there's more. If you stem to start your turns, the initial angle is too great; the ski turns too fast; you're more likely to skid, not carve - especially since few skiers can resist a kind of twisting rotary push off from the lower ski to the stemmed ski, adding body English in the form of muscular twisting to the angle you have already created by stemming. Bad juju, for sure."

How many other ski writers talk about bad juju?
therusty
January 2, 2008
Member since 01/17/2005 🔗
422 posts
EUG,

You're most welcome. As a reminder, The Snow Blast program is no longer offered. We do hold a season pass raffle every season from the "enter to win" forms submitted at the fall events that Libery, Roundtop and Whitetail attends (e.g. Dilly in Chantilly, Colorfest, Taste of DC, Fell's Point Festival, ski swaps). At those events you can also get $5 off renewal of your Advantage card and $25 off your season pass renewal. Even if your're not renewing and you're already on our mailing list, you're more than welcome to put an entry in the box. If you do win and yuou've already got a pass, the prize is transferrable or you can get your pass price back.

Don't hold your breath on the lesson deals getting extended into January. The program is designed to drive early season traffic. Even though open terrain is limited, first timers ($29 Learn to Ski or Ride) have all the snow they need to learn and the $10 group lessons gets discounted down to $6 if you have an Advantage card. That's an 82% discount off the normal $34 price! Rusty's recommendation is to get the xmas shopping done early instead of hoping for January discounts.
therusty
January 2, 2008
Member since 01/17/2005 🔗
422 posts
Lito's books are a bit dated but still very helpful.
Crush
January 3, 2008
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,021 posts
there' this old book that actually is very good that not too many people know about... lots of still valuable info in it:
Advanced Skiing (Adventure Sports)
by Martyn Hurn

Publisher Salamander
Year 1990
ISBN 0861015282
DCSki Sponsor: Canaan Valley Resort

Ski and Tell

Snowcat got your tongue?

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