Ski Instuction
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David
August 17, 2004
Member since 06/28/2004
2,444 posts
I am intrested in becoming a ski instructor. Do to illness now, I will not be able to ski until the end of this coming season. I realize that I probably wouldn't get to start what I need to do til next ski season, but would like to find out some info. What do you have to do to become an instructor. I can ski any level slope, and am will to take any classes. I am totally clueless on what it takes to become one. If I were to become one, I would like to be one in WV or Wisp ski areas at first (due to location and knowledge of). Any information would be greatly appreciated!!!
bawalker
August 17, 2004
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
I second that thought... but as a snowboard instructor. I know there is alot of patience involved but with my business I teach/instruct computer courses to those who are very computer illiterate. My patience in dealing with people is really good, but what would I need to do to progress upto say... just a beginning level instructor.

I would love to take more classes myself in advanced snowboarding, I can handle all greens, blues and Thunderstruck level blacks. This would go quite a distance to feeding my addiction in the winter to virtually living on the surface of the snow.
Roy
August 18, 2004
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
Last year was my first year as a ski instructor at Liberty. The process was very simple there.

I emailed the Snowsports (ski and board) School Director and he sent me information on their sign up. They charged a fee of $100 or so. This was to cover a 3 day class. In November, we had a full day orientation class that discussed how people learn, the type of equipment we use to teach on (skis of no more than 133mm in length), and we went over the typical beginner lesson. Your first year as an instructor, don't expect to teach much except beginner lessons. Then, once the mountain opened, we had 2 days of skiing with a level 2 or above instructor. They went more in-depth with the beginner lesson and tested us on the steps of teaching the beginner (they had given us reading materials to prepare for this). They also observed our skiing and gave us lessons and pointers to improve our skiing. At the end of this 2 days, these instructors made the determination if we had a job or not.

Our of approximately 150 applicants last year, only 5-6 people did not pass. They are not looking for expert skiers. Intermediate skiers are very capable of becoming instructors. Liberty looked for intermediate skiers and above who were also open to instruction and improving their skiing. Liberty has lots of clinics for instructors to improve your personal skiing.

bawalker for boarders I think it's even easier. There is lots of demand for board instructors. On any given day during the week, we had 20-40 instructors working and only 10 or so board instructors. There are more beginners looking for boarding lessons, especially among the teenagers.

I suggest you contact your local mountain that your want to work at. Contact the Snowsports school and ask them about being an instructor. Also, check out psia.org (skiing) and aasi.org (boarding) for some more info. These are the professional organizations and will have more info on how to teach, etc.
PhysicsMan
August 18, 2004
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
Roy described the mechanics of getting hired very well.

To add to what he said, I would emphasize to a prospective instructor that the process, content, techniques and daily grind of teaching skiing (ie, doing it well) are usually quite different from what most recreational skiers expect.

Teaching skiing is *very* different from just skiing. It is more akin to teaching any other subject than to recreational skiing, so before you get into it, you should ask yourself if you really enjoy teaching other subjects. If you do, that is a very good sign. It is also a sign known to every ski school director trying to discern if a candidate will likely stay in the profession for more than a couple of seasons, or wants to become an instructor to satisfy an ego need, pick up chicks, get the free skiing and high level instruction, etc.

If you want to learn a LOT (maybe more than you ever thought possible to know) about ski instruction, there are extremely detailed discussions of the subject on Epicski.com:

http://forums.epicski.com/forumdisplay.php?f=9

These discussions can be so detailed that they can be a bit much for a lot of people, but if you hang around, you will learn a lot about all aspects of the profession.

Good luck,

Tom / PM
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 18, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Roy and Tom:

I'm terribly biased but I strongly feel that the resorts of Snowtime offer some of the finest instruction for new skiers in the WORLD.

Is there any way for a new student to specifically request a class taught by you or Roy?

Do you guys teach those courses or do you focus on more advanced skiers?
skier123
August 18, 2004
Member since 01/20/2003
14 posts
I have looked into becoming an instructor in the past. Is it still true that you have to teach one week day in addition to weekends? Also, do you still have to achieve a certain number of teaching hours before you actually become a certified instructor (not just employed as an instructor)?
catskills
August 18, 2004
Member since 06/29/2004
53 posts
David, good information above.

If teaching is not your thing you may want to try ski patrol. You can always contact a resort's ski school and ski patrol and see if you can following an instructor and/or ski patrol around for a day. Just to see if you like it.

Check out.
NSP New Members

and

SKi Instructor New Members
PhysicsMan
August 18, 2004
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
Quote:

Roy and Tom: I'm terribly biased but I strongly feel that the resorts of Snowtime offer some of the finest instruction for new skiers in the WORLD.

Is there any way for a new student to specifically request a class taught by you or Roy? Do you guys teach those courses or do you focus on more advanced skiers?




John -

Wow, given how much of the world you have traveled, that's quite a compliment! Thanks (on behalf of Snowtime)!

To answer your question about lessons, I (and I suspect Roy, as well) would be absolutely delighted to work with your beginner friend next season. FYI, we get very, very few high level students at Whitetail compared to the hoards at levels 1 through 4, but last season I was fortunate to be able to instruct a few true level seven students. The few 8's and 9's that want lessons almost always are assigned to a more senior instructor or trainer.

As you probably know, there is always an "official" way to request an instructor - your friend simply forks over the big $$$ for what is known as a "request private (lesson)", and is guaranteed to get Roy or me for however long he wants, whenever he wants.

However, what most people don't realize is that if your friend shows up when Roy or I are scheduled for regular lineup (group lesson assignments), and he/she talks to the lineup supervisor and specifically requests one of us, the supervisor will likely do everything in their power to satisfy your friend, the paying customer.

My experience has been that if there are enough instructors to go around, there is a very good chance your friend will wind up with Roy or me as their instructor in a one person "group" lesson (i.e., a private lesson for the price of a group lesson). Last season, one guest, a Chinese scientist, worked this angle to perfection, and got me as her private instructor about 5 weeks in a row, each time for the price of a group lesson.

If there happen to be more students of the same ability level that need lessons, and there aren't extra instructors available, the supervisor might assign Roy or me to that particular class level to satisfy the customer's request to have one of us as their instructor, but it will obviously be a group lesson, not a private. In addition, you should tell your friend that a group lesson ticket does not have to be used at a particular time during the day, so if the group sizes happen to be too large at a particular lineup, your friend can simply come back for the next lineup when the group size may be smaller. At Whitetail, the 5:30 and 7:30 lineups on weekday nights are usually quite slow (unless a tour or school bus happens to arrive).

If cost is a concern, my feeling is that your friend will get the most value out of a private lesson once they are a couple of hours past the never-ever stage. Of course, they could request Roy or I for a private to introduce them to skiing right from scratch, but the introductory material that we cover at the start of a never-ever private lesson is exactly the same as what we cover in a group lesson. In fact, IMHO, this material could easily be covered by a more experienced recreational skier like you.

This is a minor heresy as far as the SS is concerned, but if you chatted with your friend for an hour about skiing before they got to the hill, and then spent an hour with them upon arrival, you could make their first lesson vastly more effective and fun. The items in the following list are not rocket science, but for an adult, each and every one of them should be reviewed before a person gets to the point of actually learning how to make turns, and that takes a lot of time (and $$$, if they are paying for it):

Appropriate clothing - you'd be amazed how many adults show up without hats or reasonable gloves.
Make sure they know not to stuff 3 layers of socks and their jeans into the top of their ski boots.
Discuss how to buckle ski boots, what is an appropriate level of tightness.
Discuss why they can't leave their boots unbuckled during the lesson.
Use a pair of your skis and boots to demonstrate (and name) the different parts of a ski and binding.
Show them how to click in & how to click out of a binding. Force a twisting release at the toe to demonstrate both how bindings protect you as well as the necessity for resetting the heel after many falls.
Demonstrate how to carry skis and poles both in close quarters (ie, don't decapitate anyone), as well as when there is enough space to shoulder them.
Discuss why you have to stand perpendicular to the hill when putting on or taking off skis (ie, after you fall).
Discuss the ways to get up after a fall. If they can get into your boots, have them practice this on a rug.
Discuss pole use (ie, they won't be used in beginner skiing except for maneuvering around the flats, DON'T stick them in the snow in front of you to stop, using the strap, etc.)
Discuss the rudiments of safety and the Skier's Code. Make sure they know that the skier in front doesn't have eyes in the back of his head and has the right of way.


If you can accompany them on their first trip to the mountain, and spend an hour or so with them, you can help them enormously:

Walk them through ticket purchase, the rental shop, and out to the never-ever area.
Point out where bathrooms, restaurants, lockers, ATM machines, etc. are located.
Help them click in and out of their bindings a couple of times.
Walk them around the flats on just their right ski. Make figure 8 turns so they make left AND right turns while walking. Do the same clicked into just their left ski. Do the same with both skis.
With both skis on, get them used to shuffling along, pushing with their poles (ie, not straight down into their poles).
With both skis on, get them used to picking up one ski and balancing on the other. See if they can do this while sliding along on the flats.
If they ice skate, demo skating moves on the flats.
While poling along on the flats, get them to become comfortable with picking up one ski, re-directing it a few degrees and putting it back down and standing on it (ie, the rudiments of a "1000 steps" drill).
Find the most gentle hill imaginable (under 5 foot rise in 100 feet), with a long runout or upslope at the end, and have them get used to sliding in a straight line at a couple of mph.
Get them used to being agile on their feet while moving by doing wedge changeups (wedge, no-wedge, wedge, no-wedge) while gliding down the ultra gentle "1st hour on skis" area.
Walk them over to various types of lift, and while watching others load, describe what the orange cones are for, in what hand do you hold your poles, when do you lower the safety bar, how you get off, etc., but don't let them take the lift yet.

The above material is essentially what we cover in the first hour of a never-ever lesson, and will probably take you about as long to cover it, answer their questions, etc.

By this point, they will finally be ready to learn how to turn and stop. This is probably the optimal point in their skiing development to turn them over to the pros (for either a private or group lesson). Your fledgling skiers will undoubtedly be tired and sweaty, and they may be a bit frustrated because they have done all this grunt work but still haven't actually skied yet. Reassure them that all this preparation is essential. Take them inside for a break, and when they return, they will be fully prepared to make the most out of their first paid ski lesson.

Just my $0.02,

Tom / PM
warren
August 19, 2004
Member since 07/31/2003
485 posts
Tom,
A very well laid out plan for a never-ever. The key thing there is that it requires patience. In my case, I know that I have very little. The smartest thing I did with my daughter from day-one, hour-one, minute-one, was to enroll her in the Ski and Play program at Canaan Valley her first day when she was 4. She had a blast and her first experience was positive vs remembering Dad getting upset with her. Now she's 8 and able ski all of Snowshoe's terrain (including Lower Shay's! ) In my case I knew I wasn't teacher material. I can ski but it's much harder/different to teach someone vs strapping in and doing it. My point being, if you're able and willing to muster the patience to help out a never-ever, great! Otherwise, don't turn them off with the first time and let folks like yourself or Roy make it fun for them. Thanks guys and keep up the good work!

-Warren-
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 19, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Thanks. I forwarded this thread to him. He's a young guy (26) in the federal law enforcement business and his girlfriend is an avid skier (Bucknell Ski Team). Hence, he has major motivation to learn.

However, I warned him to take professional lessons as opposed to letting her get involved in teaching him (many great relationships have ended this way). Instead, I will ask her to give him the orientation exercises suggested and then turn him over to you or Roy for the serious instruction part.
JohnL
August 19, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Tom's post is a good reminder of how much basic knowledge experienced skiers take for granted about our sport. It's pretty amazing that any newbies overcome those obstacles and become life-long participants.


Quote:

• Discuss why you have to stand perpendicular to the hill when putting on or taking off skis (ie, after you fall).
• Appropriate clothing - you'd be amazed how many adults show up without hats or reasonable gloves.




I'm surprised at how many experienced skiers still have problems with those two items.
canaanman
August 20, 2004
Member since 03/5/2004
358 posts
Quote:

I second that thought... but as a snowboard instructor. I know there is alot of patience involved but with my business I teach/instruct computer courses to those who are very computer illiterate. My patience in dealing with people is really good, but what would I need to do to progress upto say... just a beginning level instructor.

I would love to take more classes myself in advanced snowboarding, I can handle all greens, blues and Thunderstruck level blacks. This would go quite a distance to feeding my addiction in the winter to virtually living on the surface of the snow.



Hmm... thinking of applying to Timberline? If you are, and you have any info... pass it on my way. I'm considering applying there for an instructing job as well.

Of course, then I think of how I like to relax while riding, and how you'd have to work on powder days. I'm still trying to compare the pros and cons.
Roy
August 20, 2004
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
Tom that was a great refresher course for me to get ready for the season!

One thing I'll add in deciding to pick a private or group lesson. The student needs to decide how they want to learn. Since he has skiing friends and girlfriends, you can help guide him to the right decision.

Some people do not do well in groups. If you're competitive, A-type personality, and extroverted, group lessons work pretty well. This type of person thrives off of having others around them. If you are introverted, afraid to have others see you fail, or are being "pushed" into skiing (because your girlfriend is such a great skier and wants you to be too), a private lesson might be better.

Neither of these examples is a knock on anyone but what I've found to be very realistic. I have had plenty of people in a group that I approached after the lesson and suggested they take a private lesson, with me or with another instructor. I would observe these people and notice they spent so much more time shying away from the group (would always ski last, standoffish). Another example, I've had private lessons with kids and most of them do not go as well. Kids learn mainly by seeing other people do it. They tend to work better in group lessons.

Each year the ski industry talks about getting new skiers started and then retaining them. I think if we could figure out how to correctly guide someone to that first lesson(group or private), we'd keep alot more coming back.

As far as patience goes, yes you do need a lot of patience. I've learned I have more with adults than kids (I don't have kids of my own). However, I've always been one to teach and I've gotten more pleasure from seeing someone accomplish a turn, a first run down something other than the bunny hill, etc.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 20, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Roy:

That's interesting about personality types. For this guy, I think a group experience will work fine. He's not shy. However, for other types, I will go your suggestion and recommend a private lesson.

I mention that the resorts of Snowtime have some of the best instruction for NEW skiers in the world because they deal with so many newbies on a day to day basis. These resorts are "gateways" to skiing for thousands of people every year.
Roy
August 21, 2004
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
[These resorts are "gateways" to skiing for thousands of people every year.]

That's so true. I'd guess at least 50% of the newbies I had wanted to learn to ski because they were going out west. The other 50% were pushed into it by friends, parents, schools, etc.

Ski and Tell

Snowcat got your tongue?

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