SO YOU WANNA BE A SKI INSTRUCTOR
by Paul Maraschiello
If you want to be a ski instructor, lots of luck. They do get all the girls, look really cool in their ski school parkas, AND ski really great.
Well it's not all wine women and powder snow. It involves a heck of a lot more and the money often sucks. Many ski areas only pay minimum wage WHEN you have a class. You could be there all day and not earn a penny. You are required to purchase your own uniform and supply your own ski equipment. Early-morning line-ups, standing under the cold wet snow guns to see if you get a class and ski school directors who are dictators are just a few of the draw-backs to this profession.
Very few ski areas appreciate the fact that the ski school is responsible for all the new skiers and riders that they will depend on in the future. They tend to treat individual ski instructors the same way they pay them . . . worth less than the lowest-paid minimum wage slave.
For every ski instructor, there are any number of fools anxious to take their place. The fact that they don't know how to teach and often ski really badly, doesn't bother the ski area. Ski instructor hopefuls are literally a dime a dozen and the ski areas know that.
The attitude of ski area management aside, being a ski instructor does have its good points. The best thing about being a member of a ski school is all the really great fellow instructors you will meet. You will meet people that will become your ski buddies for life. The other big benefit of teaching skiing are the clinics you will attend. If you really want to improve your skiing, become a ski instructor and soak up the instruction provided in the clinics. You do get to do a fair amount of free skiing and may even get free ski passes for you family.
I thought I was a pretty hot skier when I joined my 1st ski school. I soon found out I had a lot to learn about skiing and even more to learn about teaching skiing. I picked up a lot of helpful technical jargon and tips that have really improved my skiing thanks to the technical directors that I have worked with over the years.
One of the best ways of becoming a ski instructor is to enroll in a program like the one
they have at Killington.
For the 32nd year, instructor hopefuls, wanna-be's and highly-skilled skiers and riders will get a glimpse and first taste of what it's like to be a professional coach and instructor at the 32nd Annual School for Instructors, held at Killington Dec. 2-6, 2002. The nationally-acclaimed five-day program has turned intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders into coaching pros or accomplished skiers and riders for more than a quarter of a century.
"The aspect of the program that attracts people year after year is the intense five hours of training each day with Killington trainers, some of the top trainers in the country with PSIA-Examiner status and years of teaching experience," said Kevin Anderson, director of the Perfect Turn® ski and snowboard school. "Participants learn the latest and most up-to-date teaching methods and develop their own personal skiing and riding skills." According to Anderson, groups can include past instructors brushing up on technique, new folks who want to become pros or simply intermediate and advanced skiers and riders who want to improve on their own skills.
"We hire about 90 percent of the participants; the rest are hired elsewhere," said Anderson. "Our teaching pros for the School for Instructors are some of the best in the country. Each trainer has 10 to 20 years of teaching experience. Other resorts on the East coast recognize the program. Instructors who apply to other resorts for teaching positions have an advantage when they show their completion certificate from the program. It's that widely recognized."
Those who are hired on to be part of the Killington Perfect Turn team receive additional training in teaching techniques and risk management. Experienced pros help new instructors understand the importance of smiling and carving perfect turns with newcomers to the sport. It's the first impression that these pros have on newcomers that will keep them coming back for more and convert them into lifelong snowsports participants. However, the program does offer another track for those who don't want to become an instructor or coach, but simply want to participate for their own improvement.
"They join us because they know they are receiving the highest level of coaching and instruction plus intense close-up concepts of how to ski or ride and many people really like that way of learning," said Anderson. "It's a wealth of information for them, and they benefit from some of the top instructors in the country as their coaches."
The Killington School for Instructors program includes five hours of daily training focusing on coaching methodology, technique and video analysis, plus a four- or five-day lift pass. Skiers and snowboarders are grouped separately. The program is available as a five-day weekday program from Dec. 2-6, 2002 or as a four-day program on consecutive weekends: Part I is Dec. 7-8 and Part II is Dec. 14-15, 2002. Cost is $369 for the weekday program and $320 for the weekend program and includes lift tickets, daily instruction, après-ski gatherings, and more. For more information or to register, call (800) 923-9444, Tell them you read about the program in the Ski Bum News.