What to Look For in a Ski Lesson

Improving your skiing on your own or from a ski instructor both have their pros and cons. Generally speaking, taking a ski lesson can propel your ski journey more rapidly and in the right direction. You can definitely improve your skiing on your own, but finding the expert who is authentic and is trustworthy can go a long way.

Here are some considerations when looking for a ski lesson.

I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t take a ski lesson.

Andrew Elsdon

Friendly

One of the main reason we all ski is to have fun and meet like-minded people. There’s a camaraderie amongst skiers and ski-friends are life long friends. There’s something about sharing a chair ride and developing the art of the 15 minute chairlift conversation and then sharing a slope with a good friend.


Fun & Safe

Now that you and your friend are on the slopes, there’s a thousand ways to have fun and remain safe. Any day that ends with a smile and no “USI’s” is worth it (USI: Unexplained Skiing Injury). Fun takes on an endless list of possibilities. Imagine your day starting out with a warmup and a challenging race. You’ve trained all season and it’s time to compete in the local race camp. The equipment check, warmup, the course inspection, focus, and mindfulness of the race creates a challenge that equals fun.

Other forms of Fun can be a powder day on the slopes with your besties (friends) and tour the entire mountain seeking deep powder and removing snow from just under your goggles.

Fun could be taking a certification course and really developing your skiing. If you haven’t before, there’s something about learning and instantly applying a new approach to your skiing that’s exhilarating and fun at the same time. Australia (Australian Professional Snowsport Instructors Inc. (APSI)), USA (The Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI)), Canada (Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance- CSIA) and many more countries all have certification courses to become a ski pro and teach others. VERY gratifying.


A Proper Warmup

Finding the right instructor who can make it fun and friendly is key. The key is a good instructor always knows that a student really isn’t ready to learn anything until they are warmed up and relaxed. It’s a starting point and only then can they begin to learn and develop their own skiing.

A good ski instructor will ask questions and begin to understand as much as possible about the student’s intentions & goals, physical ability, psychological state, motivation, maturity, and other pursuits. Ski instructors know that a proper warm up is vital to taking the time to get to know their student in all aspects and then and only then can the ski instructor know what direction is possible for the student.


Visible Ski Improvement

Ok, it’s friendly, we’re having fun in a safe and controlled environment… now what? Well, a ski lesson is meant to do several things: Firstly, a ski lesson’s intention is to reach the goals of the student. This usually includes some ski improvement. Sometimes, it can be as simple as building confidence on different terrain.

Secondly, there must be a clear and concise outline of where the lesson is headed. A goal, or directive. If you’re looking to improve your carving turns, the goal might be to make 20 carved turns on a specific type of slope or feel ‘grippy’ throughout the entire shape of the turn. Either way, this must be done so in a measurable manner. Did the student make the 20 turns? Did the student feel ‘grippy’ at the top-middle-or bottom of the turn? A quick measure will ensure that progress is being developed in the student.


Memorable

What makes a ski lesson memorable. I can tell from the thousands of hours of lessons and sessions I’ve attended, there are definitely some that stand out. The memorable ones usually contain a break through in our own skiing OR the ski instructor was so good, that the student really related to the method and approach of the instructor. It might have been a funny saying or way in which they developed the student’s goals or perhaps showed the student how to do something new. Either way, a easy-to-recall action in the lesson lives on in the memory of the student.

Ski Memory
Photo By: Mauro Paillex

Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of your own ski lesson memory. Share, I dare you!

AE

Homework

It’s one thing to have a one or two hour lesson with a good ski instructor, but is there some homework to take home and ponder? A good ski instructor will show you all the possibilities of your own abilities and provide an easy to follow set of things to think about before your next tracks on the snow.

Homework might be something like: “continue to move your hip that way at this part of the turn until your feel the ski accelerate into the next turn” or “work on your flexibility in the hip joints to make it easier to move laterally in the turn” or “stretch each day after a day on the slopes to improve your range of movement” or “work on lifting the inside leg to make it lighter and more balanced over the outside ski – this will result in better balance”.

There’s a 1000 possibilities and what your instructor might add to the homework list.

SkiChatter - Ski Homework

Summary

The goal is fun ski improvement. Let yourself Soar!

Andrew Elsdon
Let Yourself Soar
Photo by Bobby Stevenson

Ski Lesson Take Aways:

  1. Friendly/Professional:
    • Ski Instructor is On time
    • Receptive
    • Attentive
    • Engaging
    • Expert, Authentic, Trustworthy
  2. Fun & Safe
    • Knows the resort and all the safety features
    • Chooses the appropriate slope and lifts
  3. Warm up Time
    • Provides enough time to warm up the muscles and relax
  4. Ski Improvement Progressive
    • Specific instruction
    • Measurable
    • Results based
  5. Memorable
    • Simple Take aways
    • Easy to remember & mimic
  6. Homework
    • Provides a glimpse into the possibilities
    • Self Sustaining todo list

Author’s Ski Instructor Recommendations:


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