/ Have you had any Ski/Snowboard Lessons?

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Terry James Walker - on 18 Mar 2013
Just wondering how many of this (predominantly) climbing community have had lessons whilst learning to ski/board?

I love the British ethos of going and learning by doing or from friends and just getting on with it. But I've seen a huge number of people going touring this season with some 'sketchy' fundamental technique and can't help but think they'd enjoy it far far more if they were better skilled in descent.

Let me know if you had lessons, and what level you're skiing at? Plateau? What's the demand/market like for ski instruction of intermediate/advanced skiers on this forum. Thanks
andy - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker: I haven't (apart from some input from a BASI qualified mate a few years ago) and I'm afraid I'm the archetypal Brit climber-going-skiing in that I get down pretty much anything but look shite.

My problem now is I tend to ski at half term with the kids so there's no adult group lessons to be had, so the only option is super-expensive guide/private lessons. Paid a chap 300 to skin uphill for 800m (during which I learned how to do proper kick turns) but was then too shagged to ski down again properly and learned very little.
Terry James Walker - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to andy: Thanks,

That's another question I'd like to pose... Ski Teacher vs Guide. Do people realise that a fully qualified Ski Instructor can teach you everywhere except on a glacier, so they're very much able to teach people off piste and touring skills....
andy - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker: The plan for the day was Pas de Chevre so I needed a guide for it. Then I tried to join an "off-piste" afternoon in Avoriaz at half term but every instructor was teaching kids so a guide was the only option again.
andy - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker: I found it interesting at half term that we had nine kids with us and only the three I had (my two plus a mate) went to ski school. My three were probably at least as good as the rest of them at the start of the week and were definitely better than all except one by the end - yet six out of the kids didn't go to lessons because they "don't need them".

I learned a salutary lesson when I did a couple of triathlons a couple of years ago - I'm a reasonably swimmer (1500m in c28mins) but the difference between me and someone with proper technique is startling - and that's because i stopped having lessons when I could "swim". same with these kids and skiing - their parents don't make them go to ski school because they can ski - they're perfectly competent on blue runs, and if the snow's good they're fine on red runs - but get them off piste or on anything steep/icy then it all goes to rat shit. My lot will go to ski school for as long as I can make them - they have more fun (we tend to spend a bit more and go for non-ESF schools as we've had bad experiences with them) than we could give them and learn loads.
Mark Bull - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker:

> I love the British ethos of going and learning by doing or from friends and just getting on with it. But I've seen a huge number of people going touring this season with some 'sketchy' fundamental technique and can't help but think they'd enjoy it far far more if they were better skilled in descent.

> Let me know if you had lessons, and what level you're skiing at? Plateau? What's the demand/market like for ski instruction of intermediate/advanced skiers on this forum. Thanks

I'm an intermediate skier with what I'm sure you would class as sketchy technique! I had some private lessons while on a piste skiing trip this winter which were very helpful and have definitely made a difference.

Having said that, you can have a fun (and safe) time ski-touring without having top-notch downhill skills, in the same way that you don't need to be leading E grades to enjoy rock-climbing. I have come across a few instructors who simply don't get this, and who think that off-piste skiing/touring is only for the expert downhillers. Please don't be one of them, and beware of putting to much emphasis on pure downhill technique when there are many other aspects of touring which are just as important!

david100 - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker: I have skied from bieng a teenager and used every method of instruction available books,group lessons, private lessons and good old face downhill and pray. all have pros and cons but combining everything worked well for me. The trick is to try and improve some part of your technique every trip and try and ski something harder every trip. Unfortunately if you don't live in france you will only ever be good rather than excellent and your off piste will only ever be passable.
blurty - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to andy:

Same for me, until recently we (family of 5) took lessons together with a private instructor. It worked out just a bit more than lessons but was more flexible. (I also find ESF are not so good, in my experience anyway).

I've had a couple of days off-piste instruction with Alison Culshaw for the last 2 yrs. Really excellent.

I'll never be any good, but I do enjoy learning.
Ciro - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker:

Had dry slope lessons in primary school, taught myself/learned off friends for a while on the scottish slopes in my late teens, then a few weeks in the alps in my 20s.

Then discovered the UCPA and learnt more in a week of lessons than I had in the previous four years (one week a year) combined. I've had four weeks with the UCPA, but only one of those was off-piste.

I'd say I'm above average on-piste (comfortable at speed on icy reds/good condition blacks) but still a bit of a punter off it.

I'm also a total punter in the snow park... perhaps I should have some lessons in that some time.
earlsdonwhu - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker: I have skied for about 100 weeks over the years but only had a couple of weeks lessons . THIS HAS BEEN A MISTAKE!

Spending more on lessons rather than kit would have been more productive and given more solid skills. It is very tempting to think that you can ski once a few basics are in place, ( With ski technology these days, that is easier to achieve). However, as soon as you get onto steeper, deeper, icier, heavier conditions your technique or lack of it gets magnified and when touring with heavy sack this is accentuated even more.

I benefited from some proper technical input on my last trip.
Chris the Tall - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker:
Yep, I had lessons.

First went skiing aged 13, but was useless and forgot everything, so when I went again, aged 23, I was back to square one but quickly picked it up.

Oddly enough, another 23 years on, I can still remember one of those tips from those how lessons - simple way to do a parralel turn by traversing a slope and simply standing up, just see what your skis do !

Had a couple of lessons on susbsequent trips, but not much recently - reckon you quickly get to a point where you aren't going to learn anything because your instincts are too strongly entrenched.

I do get annoyed with the all-too-british approach of "never had a lesson but can still get down anything". One of my friends is a classic of this, looks like he's sitting down, skidded turns, but yes he does get down. However I'm not convinced he's in control and is a bit of a worry at times.
marmot hunter - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Chris the Tall:
BASS Chamonix - it is the mutts nuts if you want to develop as a skier. They do a specfic off piste climbers course which doesn't cover avalanche etc but concentrates on skiing well. Superb! 4x3 hours lessons under 200.
Many Uk Aspriant guides go on the course so it must be good. We really improved on it. Booking agian next year.
Doug on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker: Guess I'm in the learn by doing camp. Did have a couple of lessons at Glenshee where I learnt to snowplough but not much else, then went skiing with friends. But some of them were either ski instructors &/or good skiers. I also moved to nordic skiing at a time when almost no one in Scotland offered much in the way of lessons (& one or two of them were the guys I was skiing with).

More recently I had a week with UCPA & have skied with a French guide who is also qualified as Norwegian telemark instructor. If I could have found someone like him 30 years I'm sure I would have benefited and not be forever stuck as a intermediate (can get down most things on/off piste but can see that better technique would make it easier & probably more fun)
Ciro - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Chris the Tall:

> I do get annoyed with the all-too-british approach of "never had a lesson but can still get down anything". One of my friends is a classic of this, looks like he's sitting down, skidded turns, but yes he does get down. However I'm not convinced he's in control and is a bit of a worry at times.

I wouldn't advise it to anyone wanting to get good, but I'm not sure it *such* a terrible thing... on one of my on-piste courses the instructor told me I was far from the best skier in the group but I was the one he'd trust to get myself out of a tricky situation if I had to... so at the end of the days lesson he took his coat off, turned it inside out, said "lesson over, but you can follow me if you like" with a wink and ducked under the rope while the rest went for the packed piste back to the resort. That un-official lesson was my introduction to off-piste, and I did indeed make it down through the trees.
chrisfecher - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker: Good coaching does help you ski better, more efficiently and with more style. it's a no brainer!

But I would say that?!
Siderunner - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker:

I've had a fair number of lessons, mainly private 1-on-1 or 2-on-1, and don't regret a single one: I've always learnt something. Plus every notch of improvement I've made has made me enjoy my skiing more. During a week's skiing I always try to have at least one 2hr lesson.

I've often talked to Brits before I've seen them ski, and quite often they'll say stuff like "never seen the need for lessons, I'm a good intermediate already". Usually their skiing is a mess, and to me they look more like a strong and determined beginner, especially on moderately challenging terrain, but even on easy ground they don't look composed or elegant.

I think it depends on what your peers do and what you think is a reasonable standard. A lot of people seem to think side-slipping down a black run with the odd stem turn makes them a good skier. My definition is more like skiing all snow types elegantly and smoothly, with a range of turn styles, also in trees and in couloirs up to 45 degrees.

Overall I'd say I'm at the upper end of intermediate. About 30+ weeks of skiing of which roughly half is off-piste, including a diverse mix of touring, slack country couloirs, and more mellow off piste. I'm probably at a plateau but since I'm down to <= 1 week per year it's not that surprising.
OwenM - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker: Four weeks solid lessons with the Army back in 1983, followed by six months secondment to the Italian Alpini Regiment. I've ski toured every winter since in Scotland, the Alps or further afield when I can afford it. I ski tour most weekends here in Scotland but still take the odd lesson now and again just to keep my technique up.
machars on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to marmot hunter: Just did this course last week which was excellent and good value. Wish i had done it 4 years ago when i learned to ski- would be much better by now! Snowboarded for 17 years without a lesson though but think it is probably less technical and easier to learn.
Terry James Walker - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Mark Bull:
> Having said that, you can have a fun (and safe) time ski-touring without having top-notch downhill skills, in the same way that you don't need to be leading E grades to enjoy rock-climbing. I have come across a few instructors who simply don't get this, and who think that off-piste skiing/touring is only for the expert downhillers. Please don't be one of them, and beware of putting to much emphasis on pure downhill technique when there are many other aspects of touring which are just as important!

I absolutely agree with this... People have many motivations for their holiday/trips, touring, backcountry etc, and in my opinion, if they're having fun then I'm super psyched for them, (and keen to teach them.)

I am enjoying everyones comments, keep em coming. I think the general jist is that people on here do accept how incredibly technical skiing is, and unlike climbing you can't just get strong and smash in big numbers! So to have even more fun and get more from however long you get skiing a year, I think lessons really are good value for fun!
Terry James Walker - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:
> (In reply to Chris the Tall)
> BASS Chamonix - it is the mutts nuts if you want to develop as a skier.

Let's keep it fair everyone, other brands of ski school exist, and some very talented private individuals teaching in France.
Gav M - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker:

Skiing is very expensive no matter how you look at it. Paying for the odd lesson only increases the overall cost slightly, but the resulting improvements increase satisfaction immeasurably.

For those wishing to improve but too mean to pay for lessons this book is excellent.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/All-Mountain-Skier-Way-Expert-Skiing/dp/007140841X

Scomuir on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker:
Never had a single ski lesson. Skiing for me was learned by being shoved out the car in a blizzard at Glenshee when I was a kid, using ex-hire kit. I am sure better kit and lessons would have been extremely beneficial, but it wasn't an option. You can learn a lot from reading about the theory, and watching other people (who are good).

As much as lessons would be useful, an investment in time on the piste is in my opinion, really important for folk wanting to go touring. There is a tendency to try and even skip that bit!

Morgan Woods - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker:

had dabbled on and off (sans lessons) in boarding, telemarking & downhill over the years from 1986 to 2009 when i spent a few weeks in Chamonix and decided to go down the AT route.

Had a weeks off piste tuition with dream guides in 2010 and have been improving since fairly steadily. I think the main thing was just getting a good set up with which i can cope with nearly all off piste conditions (Atomic Bent Chetler + (well fitted) Dalbello Sherpas) which has made a huge difference. I think the thing to do is to look at it as a 2-3 yr project just to get competent but hopefully have a lot of fun along the way.

I had always found it easy to shred on-piste but deep snow had always seemed like a bit of a struggle until recently.

I didn't think a week's tuition was the most important thing, rather a piece in a solid foundation with other elements such as being safe, keeping fit & skiing with much better people.
NottsRich on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker: I had one lesson in Tamworth and then spent a week in the Alps DH skiing with pretty competent friends. After a few days I could get down anything piested with only one or two falls each day, and by the end of the week was doing pretty well off-piste too. BUT, like many of the other posters here I probably lack a lot/any style or proper technique, short of what I tried to pick up following good skiers. I'm now trying XC skiing in Scotland with some borrowed kit and it's very different!

It sounds like you're doing some market research... So for what it's worth, I would potentially be interested in XC guiding to maximise skiing time due to my relative lack of knowledge of where the good snow will be, but not for DH.
Yanchik - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker:

> Let's keep it fair everyone, other brands of ski school exist, and some very talented private individuals teaching in France.

Let's name them. I could use some tips like that, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

I've skied ten years, starting self taught. I thought I could ski (getting down anything but the hardest pistes), then I did three mornings of lessons in Whistler (Dave someone's ski school) where they taught me not to descend, but to ski (and gave me the most-improved prize...) It was an epiphany. Now I can get down any piste in adequate style and complete control, with more interest in big icy bumps than great speeds.

Of course, I wanted to tour, so did the Glenmore Lodge weekend (excellent for the differences between alpine mountaineering and ski touring, atrocious for the actual ski technique "instruction" although YMMV.) Did a nice six-day tour of Aneto and Maladeta in the Pyrenees and was far from the weakest in the group.

All fine, but now I've plateau'd - I don't like it when my skis leave the ground, and powder is harder than it ought to be. What do I do next with my 5-7 days per year ?

- Eagle club tours, great fun, but not for technique teaching surely ?
- X00 GBP for single days of private guiding ad hoc in Europe ? Doesn't sound great
- Back to Canada ? One day maybe

So, recommendations like the Cham school would be cool, please.

Y
Pinch'a'salt on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Yanchik:

Plenty of coaching weeks (with professionals) via the Eagle Ski Club...
torquil on 20 Mar 2013
Hi Terry,

What everyone really needs is a friend who happens to be an instructor, (maybe even quite a good one who's recently completed the euro test), who they can go out touring on their friends day off.

When the friend/instructor spots the heavily ingrained bad technique they can then provide a few excellent pointers thus bumping them off the plateau on which they are stuck. Simple.

BTW i am in Chamonix 3-11april if you want to meet up :) ;)

But seriously, i have been considering lessons recently as I'm totally self taught and I would like to step things up a bit and I know i have big holes in my technique. There are a lot of recommendations around for good off piste/all mountain skiers but very few for boarders. And of course the big factor is cost - getting out to the alps for a week is bank breaking enough as it is.
Yanchik - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to Pinch'a'salt:

Yeah - following the post, I looked up their offerings again: there's some good stuff. Not just tours.

Y
doz - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker: How many people has had proper climbing technique lessons?
I could certainly use a few.....
chrisfecher - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker:

Climbing is very much about technique and developing skills just like skiing? Wish i'd had more climbing lessons!
Terry James Walker - on 24 Mar 2013
In reply to Yanchik: Give me a shout, I currently work for BASS, but have freedom to run my own courses. couple of reviews here: www.comeskiwith.me/terry

Or just, pick a resort in France and I'll bet I can name you a talented british ski teacher, from whom you'll gain value from your lessons. I too have heard good things about Ali C at BASS Cham. But as much as I love it, Chamonix is defo not the best skiing in europe in my opinion.

And, yes everyone, this is basically me doing market research... and all of the posted replies so far have been incredibly valuable, so thanks.

I'm not fully informed, so would like information if anyone has any, as can't find it on websites... But courses with IFMGA guides and ski clubs like Eagles tend not to use 'Ski Teachers'? ( http://www.basi.org.uk/content/alpine-ski-level-4-istd.aspx ) and I truly don't want to appear that I'm bashing the competition, how much time is spent during the guide scheme on ski instructing/teaching/coaching?

It's generally very easy for a full cert BASI 4 to spot a flaw and get someone through a plataeu, whilst teaching everything else that goes with ski touring. Just thought I'd mention, in case people don't realise the system.

And Torquil: I might be teaching in Cham the second week you're there. Would happily help... mates rates
Terry James Walker - on 24 Mar 2013
In reply to chrisfecher:
> (In reply to Terry Walker)
>
> Climbing is very much about technique and developing skills just like skiing? Wish i'd had more climbing lessons!

Agreed, but it's not as technical as skiing. Don't want to get into a debate about this, as I hear people raging on this forum... But, I didn't go to the gym, or train strength but passed my eurotest GS race based on technique. Try climbing to within 15% of Ondra based on technique alone. (and forgive the poor attempt at a comparison!)

And I think, hence why I started this thread, that a lot of climbers have the opinion that skiing is as technical as climbing and can therefore be self-taught, or learned by watching friends (who probably also have flaws too)
nik king - on 24 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker
Ive just booked a couple of half day lessons even though i've skied for 20 years. I've done it more for off piste guiding than technique but i'm hoping the guy will help with that as well. Thinking about it, he'd better help with that as i'm paying him 60 euros an hour. I think there is definately scope at this end of the market.
Lew13 - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker:

A couple of years ago I went to Austria for a week of snowboarding. Before I went I had a few hours lessons on a dry slope and did 1 day on snow in Austria. Now I'm in Canada (came for climbing but ended up doing a lot more boarding) and got on a board as soon as got here - now can pretty much ride anywhere.

I'd say take lessons then after that its like riding a bike, you won't forget how to do it!
graham F - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker: Lots of IFMGA guides are also ski instructors - it's common in the Alps to qualify as a ski instructor then become a guide later.
The Eagle ski club run several weeks a year with instructors, including a week with both instructors and a guide (me). Great value and a good mix of touring and lessons.
Not much time is spent on ski instructing in guides' training courses, but many guides then specialise in skiing work and start to develop this themselves.
Yanchik - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker:

Thanks for this - no harm in market research !

Y
dutybooty - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Terry Walker:

Experience wise I've done about 6 weeks lift served (piste and off piste) in the last 6 years and a week of ski touring. I get down most pistes with a fair bit of style, but definately not all. Take me into deep powder/steeper than I'm used to and style goes to crap!

Lesson wise: I had a dry slope lesson off an instructor, few more off a friend, practiced a lot on the dry slope on my own.

Went out to France, had possibly two days of proper instruction, possibly one day. Spent the week skiing with friends.

A few years later I had two days with a proper instructor, adapting my technique as he told me.

I think if I was to do it all again,I wouldn't have the original lessons in France or the dry slope, I'd of rather learnt it all off a friend, then have two days with a proper instructor later in the "ski career". Those were incredible and I really improved a lot.

Next time I go on a piste holiday I'm considering having a day or two again.

So put simply, I didn't really enjoy/see the need for basic instruction, but I'd love more intermediate instruction.
Pinch'a'salt on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to graham F:
> Not much time is spent on ski instructing in guides' training courses, but many guides then specialise in skiing work and start to develop this themselves.

Of course there is a whole can of worms to be opened up here... (particularly relating to non-instructor-qualified guides teaching, while at the same time certain guides' associations trying to stop instructors from doing any touring...).

In reply to the OP, plenty of people taking off-piste lessons/coaching (90% of my winter work is off piste), but plenty of poor skiing on show off piste & out in tour-land as well - recently spotted, 1 Brit in Courmayeur on mahoosive Whitedots who could barely link anything resembling a turn together on piste or off...

Terry James Walker - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to graham F:
> (In reply to Terry Walker) Lots of IFMGA guides are also ski instructors - it's common in the Alps to qualify as a ski instructor then become a guide later.

This in not common among BMG guides, whom I assume the brits on this forum will look to when in the alps.

And Ski Instructor is a loose term when referring to Level 1 or 2 qualified brit/french/swiss/german instructors (limited experience/skill required to gain this) whom can't teach off piste/touring anyway.

Just saying...

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