Taking a lesson?
August 16, 2004
I'll be in Salt Lake City in a week. Prolly in the Park City area, but may also hit Alta.
I've meant to take a lesson for years -- but haven't gotten around to it.
I'm comfortable on all blues and most blacks without moguls. I want to work on powder skiing (which I haven't done all that often) and better form.
Is it worth doing a one-hour private lesson? Should I go for longer? Any advice on picking an instructor? Would it make sense to do an hour one day and then an hour the next day?
Also, what's the ettiquette on tipping?
What's the cost comparison of a one-hour private lesson versus an all-day group lesson?
I believe tipping is expected.
Here's the cost breakdown for Park City:
4 hour group lesson $70
3 hour private instruction $285
The solo lesson is clearly a lot more $$. But, it obviously would be tailored to my needs.
I've never done a lesson before, and I want to make serious progress unlearning bad habits and picking up new good ones.
Anybody else do these kinds of lessons?
I forgot to mention 1-hour private lesson is $110.
I kinda figure a one-hour lesson might be too short to pick much up.
I've taken plenty of group lessons and clinics before; I've never done a private lesson. The group lessons are generally well worth the money and time you spend on them. Definitely take one of the lesson options; every skier should take a lesson/clinic every few years or so. I'm overdue myself.
For the most bang for your buck, I'd recommend a four-hour (all day?) group lesson. (I'm assuming the max student:instructor ratio is 6:1 or 8:1.) If you've never taken a lesson before it's a good idea to get some general advice for skiers of your ability (costs less too.) You'll be placed with a group of skiers of similar ability; you'll prolly find that most of the group have similar goals. (Most likely to ski bumps, steeps and non-groomed runs better.)
I don't know how much information you'll be able to absorb in a 1-2 hour private lesson if you've not had lessons before.
In a group lesson, you'll probably learn a lot by talking to and watching skiers of your ability level. (They'll probably be making the same mistakes your are making.) I've found the group learning dynamic generally works well for myself.
Finally, an added benefit of an all-day lesson out West is that you'll learn how to ski the mountain. The instructor will take you on trails appropriate for your ability level and will let you know the ones you prolly shouldn't ski. At least this year.
As a reference point for my recommendation, my experience with group lessons includes the following:
- Tons of lessons as a kid growing up in New England
- All-day lesson at Vail about 10 years ago (probably very similar to what you'll get in Utah)
- Adult race clinics at Whitetail in the mid-90's
- Multi-day ski clinics with the X-Team
There are tons of great ski education programs out there. Take advantage of them. One of the greatest feelings on skis is when you use something you've learned in a lesson when free-skiing.
Although there's obviously a huge difference in price, you might get more out of a private lesson than a group lesson, as the teaching would be focused directly at you and not homogenized for the entire group. But, you can always start with a group lesson and see how that goes.
I have taken short group lessons (1.5-2 hours) and really didn't get much out of them. They had 5-8 people in them, and the instruction was bland with very little personalized advice. Of course, every group lesson (and instructor) will vary. A good ski school will try to make sure the group is very evenly matched in ability.
The most useful lesson I took was a four-day "Master the Mountain" clinic at Aspen/Snowmass a few years ago. We had a small group (three young ladies from Australia, which was fine with me; a CEO from some company; and me), and an excellent instructor who had lived and skied at Aspen all his life. (In the summer, he was a rancher.) The same group skied with the same instructor all day for four days in a row. So there was a lot of opportunity for lessons, playing, and exploring -- we never did one thing too long. It was neat seeing everyone advancing and tackling their own weaknesses throughout the course. There were some powder days, so we even had the chance to rent some "fat" skis and try that out.
I realized how much more I had gotten out of that extended lesson than a brief group lesson. So, in my mind, the best option is a multi-day intensive group lesson; followed by a half-day private lesson; followed by a group lesson.
> "...and an excellent instructor who had lived and skied at Aspen all
> his life. (In the summer, he was a rancher.)...
With a gazillion instructors on staff, I know its a long shot, but by any chance was your instructor Dwight Cramer or Ric Reiter? Your description fits both of them.
Tom / PM
Scott and John make good points. However, MM, to get the most out of this lesson, you need to determine how you learn better.
John-"I've found the group learning dynamic generally works well for myself."
If you agree with that statement, then go for the group lesson. However, if you are antsy, annoyed with others easily, crave attention, or have very specific things you want to work on in your skiing, go with the private.
Another thought to consider: If you are going by yourself, the group lesson may be a way to make some new friends and ski partners for the trip. I've done many out west trips where I was skiing alone. For safety, this caused me to stay away from some of the most difficult terrain (which is what I like to ski most often). If I had taken a lesson and made friends, I probably would have enjoyed my ski day more (even though I have never not enjoyed a ski day. A bad ski day is better than a good day at the office.)
It seems there's a lot going for both options.
Maybe I'll try to squeeze in both. Dropping $70 bucks for a group lesson doesn't faze me at all considering the trip is turning out to be pretty cheap.
So I'll do the group workshop first full day. If, after that I've identified specifics to do with an instructor one-on-one I'll book a couple hours private the next day. If I do try both, I will report back on pros and cons.
I did try to learn to snowboard a couple years back at Snowshoe (never followed up because the it caused me to have back surgery). Girlfriend and I signed up for group beginner lesson and we turned out to be only ones in group. So it was like a private lesson for price of group. Mebbe a Monday late MArch will yield same result in Utah??
Roy hit the nail on the head with the point concerning your own learning style. (I was going back to this thread to make the identical point but he beat me to it.) Neither option is right or wrong, just do what you think will work best for you.
Although his description:
quote:is maybe a bit too honest? Or too harsh?
if you are antsy, annoyed with others easily, crave attention,
Yeah, I got a kick out of that description. Describes me before my morning coffee.
The only problem I've had with group instruction (from academic experience) is when I or someone else in the class is hopelessly above or below the level of the class. It drags everybody else down.
I do get really antsy waiting in long lift lines, though. And I crave attention when I have a spectacular wipeout below a lift;-)
I just tried to think of the attitudes I've seen in some of my classes this year. Since I can't be that honest with my classes, I figured I could be honest here. (and yes I'm like that before my morning coffee also)
MM- Alta has (had) a pretty inexpensive private lesson fee. A few years ago it was $120 for a minimum 2 or 2 1/2 hour lesson, which is (was) pretty cheap by other resort standards. Plus Alta's "Alf Engen" ski school has a good reputation. Check their web site for details.
Yo tough to learn to ski pow when it is not pukin' outside. We may get a dump in a week from today (next weekend) but nothing coming down the pike this week. So if you are in Park City the Deer Valley ski school is pretty damn good, plus with over 300 instructors you are likely to have a pretty small group lesson class size. You've missed most of the special clinics for back country, bump and powder skiing and Snowbird's steeps camps (last date is the 23rd) but still Snowbird has good instructors too as well as Alta. Point is choose a place where you can get variety of terrain that is easy to ski so you can concentrate on learning and not on surviving. Deer Valley is such a place. One hour is not very long .... the Deer Valley MAx Morning or Max Afternoon lessons run for 3 hours at $105 which is totally worth it. Bet you will not have more than 1-2 other people in your class.
I took the $140 2hr private lesson at Alta today.
Hard to say if it was worth it. Mainly, I wanted to shed bad habits (pretty much describes everything about how I ski).
I guess I'm an intermediate. I mainly ski blues and blacks. Steeps, but groomed.
So today, we worked on using mor edge, staying more forward, using poles and "pressing the big toe" to initiate turns.
I definitely improved today, but a group lesson might have gotten the same points across more cheply. Then, I could have shot the wad on private lessons to tackle the bumps.
Glad I took the lesson though and will practice what I learned tomorrow on Snowbird.
Ya know, its so hard to tell with lessons. You might have a group lesson of 2 people, or a group lesson of 20 people. You might have an instructor that makes you feel like your in a private, even though there are 10 of you, or you might have one that never actually watches you ski but makes you follow them around like some little puppy dog. I think, as far as lessons go, you have to experiment around a bit. Try a group here, there... find someone you like, maybe take a private if that's what you want. Hey, you're in the BEST skiing around, there. You did good to take a lesson I think! How long ya there for? Ski a couple days, and maybe take one more to re-inforce your learning before you learn. Or maybe not. I have a friend that's an ex-ski instructor and a 25+ yr veteran skier -- I mean this guy can really ski. Anyway, this is what he has to say about lessons, "I'D RATHER STICK NEEDLES IN MY EYES!!!" So, there ya go.
It would be sweet if lessons were like having a personal trainer (maybe they are and I'm unaware.)
Every year or two at teh gym I sign up for a package of 10 one hour training sessions or so. I do two a week and work out mebbe 2-3 times solo a week.
It works very well because i can practice the new material the trainer gives me and then go back for more the next day.
I guess for this method to work with skiing I'd have to ski 40 days a year (hmmmm good excuse).
PS u right about how awesome this place is!! I'm already salivating about prospect of coming back next year!
Another satisfied customer!!! Ok, at Alta I really liked Germania area - thought it has some easier access into the off-trail stuff and you could easily see what you were getting into. Snowbird, I never really quite found something I really grovelled over but that's not to say it ain't there. I thought Peruvian lift had a nice mix right at the main lodge there and it was fun to take the tram up and work down from the top in various directions. I think when I hit a new resort I try to ski a little something under each lift/tram/gondola -- kinda hard to fit that into one day at a place like Snowbird or Alta. And in our case, we had 2 ft of the fresh stuff day 1 at 'bird, then day 2 was alta, then day 3 was back at snowbird... and since all the really easy to get to, and somewhat less easy to get to powder was gone by then, I think I wasn't super excited. How quickly we turn into POWDER SNOBS, eh?!
Seriously -- all good, stuff! Maybe it is possible to ski in April or even May out there!!!!
Well lessons are cool but they do require a bit of thinking, experimenting and adapting until it becomes natural. And some people just don't like the hassle, and that's ok too...
BUT you are there!!!! That's the best part!
MM- Its hard to find a good instructor (or one who can relate to you) especially at a resort. At $140 its still a good deal though. I paid $250 at Steamboat this year for a 2 hr! I got kind of lucky with the instructor, my wife had him for a group and recommended him and he turned out to be pretty good.
Alta is awesome! Did you get to ski any of the fresh stuff?
I did hit a few pockets of maybe 2 feet deep powder.
I haven't had the opportunity to ski powder much before, so it takes some adapting. The tough thing for me is if it's kind of tracked up. I do fine in the virgin stuff and then I hit someone's tracks and the skis have a tendency to buck.
So, I steered for a few patches with nice open virgin stretches. Not many of those left, but the few were nice.
Next lesson will be focusing on powder and or moguls!
This place rocks.
I am sold on instructors. This year, I gave two members of my family the same Christmas present, two days with a private ski instructor at Snowhsoe. That was followed by two family reunions at my condo in Snowshoe... First it was my brother and his wife and kids... They had been skiing once in their lives with not too good an impression. After the second day, my brother, at the ripe old age of 52, was descending comfortably down blue trails although with a bit of difficulty. The second was my 34-yr old cousin and wife, who is also a natural athlete. After two days, he was doing a very respectable paralell and five days later, with plenty of practice, he was screaming down Cupp Run totally in control.
I remember my college days in Vermont, learning to ski and acquiring bad habits some of which are still with me 30 years later. My advice to anyone who is interested in skiing, take lessons. Several lessons with a skilled instructor can take the place of years of bad habits...
MM, it sounds like the lesson was not a disaster for you. Even though you are unsure of the private vs group aspect, it appears you did get some good information from the lesson.
Sometimes, skiing is like golf. In golf you play horrible all day and then on the 18th hole, you hit the ball perfectly and it feels so good that you're ready to come back and play again. With the lessons you learn in skiing, you'll perform the task or skill perfect once and not again for another 10 tries. I was told once that you will need to do a skill 300 times perfectly before it become naturally. That means you could do it 1000 more time incorrect before your body memorizes the correct way.
Skiing is a sport and you don't get better unless you practice. However, out of all sports, this is the only one that I have fun practicing by myself.
I can relate it to my experience as a pilot... Any human task can be learned better if it is learned the right way. Practice is key, but only if the basics are done right. You can practice a bad technique and get a high degree of expertise doing something the wrong way... In pilot lingo we call that an eventual smoking hole in the ground...
Same with skiing. I am probably an advanced to expert skier with some bad habits which only come into play when I cross an extremely difficult crossroads, then my technique goes to hell...
The experience I saw with my family in two separate occasions affirmed my belief that anyone can benefit from a good, I repeat, good instuctor. I will spend a couple of days next ski season with a top-notch instructor - I think it's worth it...
I'm curious how many members here have never taken a lesson. I've been skiing for 10 years, 20 to 30 days the last five and consider myself a good intermediate skier, that is skis all groomed terrain well. Skiing 20-30 mainly at mid-atlantic resorts means I cannot pick only packed powder days and skiing(skidding) in less than ideal conditions really wore me out. that's what motivated me to take a lesson @ 7 springs this January.
They matched me up with a level II instructor for a one hour private. John asked a lot of questions, what do you want to get out of this, where do you ski, how many days per year......what I learned was probably pretty basic, posture, shins against the boot, feet shoulder width apart, hands in front as though you are carrying a tray with the last pitcher of beer in the resort on it... John identified all these problems after watching me make maybe 10 turns and told me that what I was going to learn today was the most efficient way to turn shaped skis.
Practicing what I was shown made a big difference. I'm now very confident in variable conditions and actually enjoy the challenge. Put a lesson on your list of things to do next season.
Definitely not a disaster. I did learn some worthwhile technique changes. In fact, I practiced most of yesterday.
I think a tough part of improving my form is holding back from tougher terrain which i can "get down" but with crappy form. So, yesty I did mostly greens and some blues at snowbird. Didn't even think of trying a black.
It's a lot easier to focus on form on a nice, wide easy grade. Perhaps a few more days of that will translate into better skiing on the more advanced stuff.
I will take more lessons -- but I'll probably try a group one next time.
Skiing the Greens and Blues is easier to practice those techniques. Don't avoid the blacks, especially if you skied them before the lessons. Find a black groomer and practice the same thing. Just take it slower and only do a few turns at a time and stop.
Jimmy, I've skied for 16 years and only had one lesson before. And it was a bumps lesson at Steamboat. I could ski anywhere and thought I was a kick a** skier. After being a ski instructor this year and constantly getting lessons, I realized just how much I didn't know. Plus, it reminded me of the things I did know but was not in the habit of using. My skiing is so much improved, not only in technique but longevity (I don't get as tired as quickly).
Roy, I'll bet your significant other is pleased w/your improved technique and longevity!
You're right, my legs last a lot longer. Hope my last post didn't sound like I'm preaching but professional help really....helped.
Good one Jimmy. For that, I just watched all those late night HBO shows (not Taxicab confessions)
I'm a newbie ans like any other newbie I need some advices from experienced people. I think that an online course for newbies will be more then welcome
Being a ski instructor I would normally respond to the newbie. However, considering he has a link to a Levitra website, somehow I think this is spam.
Roy, I guess this one missed the suggestion wrt HBO Late Night...works for me.
Since mr. spam gave this topic a bump, who's taking lessons on what this season?
I an totally opposed to public executions EXCEPT in the case of spammers and people who don't rack their weights at the gym. Please take your spam solution somewhere else. This is about skiing.
I am poised to be a full time ski instructor again this year for the 2nd year in a row at Liberty. We do a lot of clinics, instructions, etc. I am trying to set two goals for this year. The first is the studying of the mental aspects of an instructor (how to teach, teaching models, etc.) and really becoming more versed in that. My second goal will relate specifically to my own skiing. However, I haven't decided what I want that goal to be. But I plan on skiing with different clinicians this year to gain different perspectives on my skiing.
Who are some of the clinicians you get to ski with at Liberty? I'm guessing Otto is one of them. Any special visitors?
For lessons/clinics, I'll probably take some Roundtop or Liberty race classes this season. Work schedule is looking better this year so night skiing may be possible this year. I may go to Epic's East Coast Tune-Up @ Stowe in December or take one of the X-Team's clinics. If I can't get some GS-turn inside leg divergence issues resolved, I may take a private lesson or two locally.
John it's kinda funny but I've never met Otto. He posted on the forum last year when Liberty was hiring new instructors and that's how I went there. I work Mon-Fri and I believe he works weekends. I'm thinking of working some more weekends this year so maybe I'll get the chance to meet and ski with him. Then again, there are not that many people there during the week so I actually spend more time skiing than teaching
The main person I have skied with is Tom Popp. Liberty does clinics for the instructors on Mon & Wed (before the mountain opens to the public) and I've spent a lot of time in his classes. But they also do a clinic almost everyday at 3pm and the person doing these are varied. These clinics range from how to improve your skiing to how to teach upper level skiers to how to tune your skis. I did not get to do a lot of these afternoon clinics, sometimes because I was teaching and sometimes by choice. I was learning so much and so many different techniques that my brain was fried and I found myself trying to do too much when I skied on my own.
I am going to do more of these clinics this year though. I've learned not only how to teach but also how to be taught. Sometimes you can't work on everything that you've been taught and have to take what you can use and tuck the rest away for a snowier day (or icier or rainy, depending on conditions).