Best Lesson vs. Worst Lesson, are there common threads?

Discussion in 'Ski School' started by Kreative1, Jun 3, 2019.

  1. James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    With an advanced group of younger kids, if they're capable of doing it, I sometimes get them into skiing some challenging conditions.
    Looking down from the lift there's a particular trail that's often very challenging in conditions. I'll say:
    "Wow, that looks terrible! We should do that on this run. Looks good."
    - "What? You said it's terrible, why would we go there?"
    "Well, you're in the black group, plus we should make sure it's actually bad. You never know. Maybe it's good."
    -"That makes no sense!"
    "I know, that's why we've got to go do it"
    -"Arrggh!"
    After we get down the first pitch, I might say.
    "Yeah, that was pretty bad. Totally great though! We really should go do it again to get better at it. Plus, maybe this time it'll be good."
    There's usually screaming "no!" at that point. So we'll go off, do some decent snow, then look for some bad stuff. I really like when there's a big patch of rippled ice from snowmaking, raining, etc. We'll stop completely, and get them to just set an edge and go straight across it, or just go downhill using the ice "like a box". Flat and straight.

    I have had kids later in the day ask about "that trail we did before".
    "You mean the one you hated?"
    -"Yeah, under the lift"
    "We could do that again. You have to convince the others though."
    That's fun when they start lobbying.
     
  2. fatbob

    fatbob Making fresh tracks Skier

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    Yeah Brits - they're the worst


    More seriously you have to question the intellectual competency of any British school or teacher who thinks flying transatlantic to ski New England is a great idea compared to 90 mins to the Alps.... The west maybe (though it is a stretch for schools). I've heard anecdotes that the real logic is that they can trust the US to be strict on liquor laws etc so they don't have to deal with stomach pumps etc on a nightly basis.
     
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  3. fatbob

    fatbob Making fresh tracks Skier

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    Do you spend part of the year as one of my snowboarding buddies? Come spring aspect hunting we'll often end up trolling each other into more and more improbable traverses where it "might be better" usually ending in some unspeakable coral reef where we have to style it out as if we meant to go there. The art is when you know when you've gone past "mediocre" to keep going as far as possible to imply you've suddenly found a windbuff superstash.
     
  4. Thread Starter
    TS
    Kreative1

    Kreative1 Booting up Skier

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    As a student:
    • Worst Lesson - A week-long ski group with a retired ski school director who never gave me direct feedback because I was one of the stronger skiers in the group and I was afraid to ask for it. Looking back I think the majority of what he taught was canned material to make the group look more like his "older" style of skiing. It took me two years of hard work with good trainers to undo the damage of that one week.
    • Best Lesson - A week-long ski group with someone who really knew their stuff, gave feedback to me (and everyone else) after each run, he gave phenomenal skiing demos and was able to explain things multiple ways to accommodate the different learning styles in the group. He also spent enough time making sure everyone was understanding what we were working on and starting to make changes before the group moved on to something new.
    As an instructor:
    • Worst Lesson - my first year of instructing I was given a group of 12 boy scouts varying in age from 10-12 or so and they told me they all knew how to ski but had to take this "stupid" lesson. They said they wanted to do a more challenging blue a few times then move on to a black diamond in their one hour lesson. I was young and hadn't yet learned the lesson from the TV show "House" that "everyone lies". I lead the group of boys over to the blue slope they all said they could do and watched in horror as only 2 of them actually skied down the first pitch unscathed. Three of the boys collided with each other, a few of them got into the woods, one refused to even go down and the rest fell somewhere and slid some length all of this happening in what I am sure was 1 minute but felt like 10 for me. I picked up all the boys one by one while skiing backwards and carrying the one who was now screaming in terror because he witnessed the carnage. One of the boys complained about his wrist and by the time I got him all sorted out I only had 2 of the boys with me (I had never told them where to meet me should we get separated). When we got to the bottom I told the terrified boy that the lesson was over for now but to come back for the next group lesson and the one with the hurt wrist ended up having a break so I had the pleasure of filling out a report and explaining how everything went so wrong.
    • Best Lesson - I was assigned a semi-private with two sisters, one was 8 and the other was 10, and they were visiting their grandmother from Croatia. They did know a good amount of English and had skied a few times in Western Europe. While I was learning about them I found out that they liked to watch "My Little Pony" in English and they both had their favorite characters. To break them out of their super wedges we bounced like Pinkie Pie, bucked like Apple Jack, and tried to be quite like Fluttershy. Once they were doing nice wedge christies we zoomed like Rainbow Dash and made pretty arcs in the snow like Rarity. At the end of the lesson I convinced them to follow me in the trees because they had to be star students like Twilight Sparkle (They had been hesitant to try so I had to trick them a bit to give it a go). I didn't know it at the time but their Grandmother worked in food services at the resort so a week later when I went to get lunch I got to hear about how her Granddaughters wouldn't stop talking about how much fun they had while learning with their instructor. They wanted to come back in a month and learn from me instead of those boring old guys in Europe and she couldn't be happier at the prospect of seeing her Granddaughters again so soon.


    It is curious to see that more often than not our worst lesson experiences occur in a group lesson setting. We all know that you can get more out of a private lesson than group and yet it seems like a lot of people go the group lesson route. Sometimes you get lucky with a good instructor who can handle split ability levels AND give effective feedback to everyone but it seems like that may be a rarity. What can we (skiers and instructors) do to make the success rate of group lessons higher?
     
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  5. mdf

    mdf entering the Big Couloir Skier

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    Sometimes the a lesson is the best because you just happen to be in a state where you really need one and are primed to benefit.

    Several years ago, I could tell my bump skiing was getting worse and worse over the course of the season. In frustration, I finally took a lesson. It was a group that wound up with just 2 of us since the third student moved herself down before we even left the ski-off.

    The instructor diagnosed my problem almost immediately, and we worked on wiring the fix into my movement patterns. I made so much progress, and was so grateful, that i booked an afternoon private with him to work on the new patterns in harder terrain.

    I'm pretty sure any good instructor could have done the same thing, but he happened to be the one that did.
     


  6. LiquidFeet

    LiquidFeet Making fresh tracks Instructor

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    Yes, we speak English and have a drinking age above high school so that makes it easy for the chaperones. What's wrong with that? The kids do well and learn a lot here in New England, if they don't get broken by inexperienced instructors over-terraining them because they don't know how to get them to behave with words.

    I find the British kids to be very polite and easy to lead. YMMV.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
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  7. James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    I've always questioned it too, but
    the deals they get are crazy. Plus they visit Boston or NY. And people speak English?
     
  8. Tony S

    Tony S aka qcanoe Skier

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    My new favorite expression!
     
  9. Tony S

    Tony S aka qcanoe Skier

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    LOL!
     
  10. Tony S

    Tony S aka qcanoe Skier

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    Had a very small number of okay formal lessons (Taos, most recently). Couple of great tips from friends / coaches / hecklers / grumps. Otherwise my experience has been disappointing.

    Worst lesson: Want a private bumps lesson. Email the SSD ahead of time looking for a match / giving a heads up / checking on availability. Crickets. Call. "Yeah, no problem, we can help." Show up at desk, explain needs and ability for third time. Get instructor. Spend hour and a half and lots of money waiting for him to flail pathetically down every intermediate mogul pitch, where he proceeded to give me beginner-level pointers. He should have recognized in the first five minutes that I needed someone else. Probably there WAS no one else, in which case they should have apologized (in light of my multiple articulations of requirements) and refunded my money.
     
  11. James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    Now that's a classic phrase. I don't think the mogul skier was an instructor.
    The video is titled "I trained like a professional skier." As if it's some excercise routine on snow.
    Which of course she did nothing of the sort. Had she attempted a wcup mogul course she'd be in the hospital. That would have been very entertaining but short.
     
  12. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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  13. KevinF

    KevinF Gathermeister-Stowe Team Gathermeister

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    Michael Rogan -- yeah, that Michael Rogan -- did this to us one time at ESA Stowe. It had snowed somewhat the night before, so Liftline (directly under the main lift at Stowe) was looking pretty good, but we kept skiing other stuff. Every lift ride Liftline would look worse until it was basically a hockey rink with random widely scattered snow piles.

    That's when Rogan announced that "we're skiing Liftline". Say what? Why now??? I -- and I imagine everybody else -- skied it terribly. We get down, Rogan looks at us and says "That was terrible! We should do it again!". We must have skied Liftline five or six times in a row.
     
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  14. LiquidFeet

    LiquidFeet Making fresh tracks Instructor

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    Did it (or you) get any better as you repeated the run?
     
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  15. James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    If you're willing to do it you figure out things. Even if it's only that you can do it. There's also things you can learn about reducing the teeth rattling, trying to make it as smooth as possible. It's a bit like skiing steeps. You can talk and learn all the theory about it, but the only thing that makes you better at it is being on them. You've got to deal with the fear. Crappy snow has it's own lessons. Including maybe you don't use such proper technique all the time. Maybe you do sit back at times, maybe you jump. Whatever it takes. Then you try to do it a different way.
     
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  16. Crank

    Crank Out on the slopes Skier

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    Be careful James, you're starting to sound less like an instructor and more like a skier.ogwink:philgoat:
     
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  17. KevinF

    KevinF Gathermeister-Stowe Team Gathermeister

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    It got easier in the sense that "now you know you can do it". So can you relax a little bit more the next time and let it "flow" a bit more, etc.

    I won't say I was skiing it "well" by the end, but it felt better.
     
  18. Jerez

    Jerez Out on the slopes Skier

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    My general observations on what makes lessons good or bad as a student... an instructor with an eagle eye and great MA skills who uses them to personalize needs. A lesson or drills progression where one thing leads to the next and ends with ahHAH feeling. Leaving the lesson perhaps not having owned the new move or technique but with the clear ability to recognize when I do it right or am progressing toward it so improvement can continue.
    My own attitude going in of letting go of all ego and expectations sets me up for success.

    Bad lessons are canned lessons or drills with no purpose for you or with little or no feedback. Oh and talking WAY too much on the side of the slope when it is super cold or windy.

    Best lesson I gave was a severely autistic and retarded child who was petrified and melting down. It took two of us the full 2 hours just to get him to slide down a tiny hill in my lap on a cafeteria tray. He had a blast and came back for the full six weeks. His parents were eternally grateful to have the respite and to see him happy.

    Worst lesson was a clinic I led for newby adaptive instructors. I asked them if they could all ski blues and groomed blacks to get a sense before the lesson. Then asked them to ski an easy blue down to mid mountain warming hut so we could do intros and talk a bit about the program and expectations where it was warm. 2 of the 8 power wedged down the slope in near panic falling multiple times and one of the others went missing...skied off to the base. Like was said before, people lie and dont listen. I learned to double check for understanding immediately!
     
  19. Bad Bob

    Bad Bob old n' slow Skier

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    Since you broached clinics.

    Went to a RMSIA clinic at Steamboat back in the day. There on the lower hill down by the bottom lifts for a day. The PA was playing "The Unicorn Song" ALL DAY LONG! Don't remember a thing about the clinic but that damned song has been burned into my brain for over 50 years.
     
  20. T-Square

    T-Square Terry Moderator Instructor

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    Just for you. (I had forgotten that song until now.)

     
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