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The Journey of a New Ski Instructor archive part 5 - Blogs - Skier Village


The Journey of a New Ski Instructor archive part 5

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One year and 5 days since my last post, 23 lessons later.

I love this job, (job?)

I teach beginners, I love it. I can't remember a day I didn't enjoy it. Sure I've had some difficult lessons, but like the old saying "there are no small parts, only small actors."

I am getting requests, I have parents tell me that their kids made their big breakthroughs with me, I have adult beginners (mostly women) feel so comfortable with me that they get over their timidity and do things they were afraid of.

My skills as an instructor are limited compared to more experienced ones (this is my 3rd year) but my skills (skills?) as a person interacting with other people are limitless it seems. I've always been a people person, and if you are too - (to be said in a jewish mother's voice) "try it, you'll like it!"

If you like helping people, coaxing them, soothing their fears, encouraging them, giving them praise for small accomplishments, there's nothing like teaching skiing. Seeing someone get off the lift while you're saying "stand up, stay forward" and seeing them make it without falling and being SO thrilled at what THEY did, is an amazing feeling.

And the icing on the cake is this year I made enough money teaching (a bit over $500) that it paid for my lift tickets at the other places I ski, including my Colorado trip.

I bought 2 pairs of new skis with the money from selling old skis and selling some old keyboards; I bought lift tickets at Vail, a season pass at Wachusett and other trips from the proceeds of teaching skiing.

But as any of us could tell you, it ain't about the money. It's about love and sharing. It's about helping people do what they didn't know they could do and basking in their feeling of accomplishment,

As addicted as I am to skiing and as much as I miss it during the off season, it's going to be worse this year because I'm even MORE addicted to teaching it.


Almost 4 years since I started this thread and I still love teaching. In fact this morning skiing alone at my local hill (not where I teach which isn't open yet) I rode the lift with a guy I didn't know. Probably around 60 years old. Got to talking about technique and I mentioned I was a part time instructor. He was talking about things he had read in Ski Magazine's instructional articles. So we skied together and I gave him some pointers. The first of which made an immediate improvement in his skiing. I'd say he is a low level 7 skier. He was so thrilled so we skied a few more runs together and I helped him more.

It was very satisfying to me to be able to make a positive change in the skiing of someone of his abilities, as I still teach mostly lower level students. My Movement Analysis skills have progressed to the point that I could identify what he needed to know today. In one run his turns got rounder and more complete.

People help me with my skiing all the time, it's great to give back. To know that this man will now enjoy skiing more because of his chance encounter with me is a great feeling.


2nd day of teaching for the season, 4 lessons so far. PSIA has taught me well, so I'm teaching my students better. Focusing on speed control through turn shape and really deemphasizing the braking wedge - although still presenting it as a tool when needed.

Today I had a lesson with a 58 year old first time female skier. She was a bit nervous to say the least. This is really one of my strong points, I know from fear having started late in life myself, and I am very patient and supportive. In one hour this woman went from a straight run glide to wedge turns - linked wedge turns on the bunny slope. Riding the lift getting off without falling. Controlling her speed by going more uphill in her turns, not by pushing down on her wedge and edging harder. Her husband who'd skied for years was at the mountain too, but no way she said was she going to ski with him. The lesson was all the skiing she'd do.

By the end of the hour she had changed her mind and I talked to him, told him to keep her on that slope, and she kept skiing. She picked it up much faster then most do which I kept telling her, but having no point of reference I think she just thought i was blowing smoke. It was definitely a high point for me getting her to the point that she wasn't afraid to ski with her husband.

He told me they'd be back and would request me. His name was also Steve, so I told him, if she started calling him by my name, that he'd never know.


Same day, different thing. Another instructor at our hill who is a wonderful person, but hard to coach for the trainers. Has a "pop" in her turns - the dreaded up move. Trying for a long time to get rid of it.

I suggested to her that she shouldn't try to get rid of something, but to do something else. Don't think of the negative thing, think of something positive.

I came up with the idea (from an examiner I trained with recently) that the extension shouldn't happen until after the edge change, so perhaps the key for her would be not to stop the "up" move (or extension) but to change when it happens. To change edges first, tip her skis, then to extend. In this case the extension will not be an "up" move, but a diagonal across the skis movement down the hill. A simple timing change. Don't get rid of the extension, but do it after the edge change.

I never coach other instructors, I'm not a trainer, but we went out on the hill and I coached her. It worked. She was thrilled and told me it was the most effective coaching she think she'd had in a long time.

A positive change in her skiing, by a positive focus. Stop thinking about what you should NOT do, but think about what you SHOULD do.

There's hope for me yet.


Sometimes you do get rewarded in this "job."

2 years ago I was assigned two 4 year old twins. Father is a serious skier, former racer. Had a good lesson. I've seen the guy on the hill since and he's told me it was a breakthrough day for them. So he wanted to hire me to do this again this year with the twins at 6. Due to my shoulder injury we wondered how I'd do getting the two of them on the lift and I suggested a second instructor. So my fiance Linda and I team taught these two kids.

They both could ski, but still used the wedge a bit too much and of course had other "issues." So we worked on corresponding edge things. We got them to hold their hands in front of them like a steering wheel of a car. I kept telling him to "stand up" and pointed out people from the lift in the backseat and how they looked like they were sitting down while they were skiing. They were great students and picked things up really well. Linda seeing that the girl just couldn't keep her hands in front of her started doing some short turns with active polling, and the little girl started poll planting right behind her. The little boy, not to be outdone by his sister, started doing it too. It was a sight to behold these two kids making short turns and planting their polls actively.

That evening the father (who is now on epic) PM'd me to tell me how much they improved and that it was well worth it. (This being a significant thing, because hiring 2 private instructors for 2 hours is not cheap.)

These kids are so lucky to have a father who is teaching them to ski at an early age, they will be eternally grateful for that gift. I wish I was given that.

Linda and I are lucky to have had the opportunity to do this. To work together I'd never seen her teach before, she's been teaching for 19 years and was one of the owner's kids instructor. She knows how to work with kids, had three of them. I learned a lot watching her.

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