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How to: Finding the Right Ski/Snowboarding Trainer

img of How to: Finding the Right Ski/Snowboarding Trainer

Most people don’t like winter, and you can’t blame them. It’s the season of freezing cold and unbearably colorless sky — at least most of the time. But people tend to adjust even to the most unwelcoming conditions, and this might be why winter sports exist. Skiing and snowboarding are extremely fun and adventurous ways to spend winter holidays. But whether you’re a pro on top of your game or just an aspiring beginner with brand new equipment, a good private lesson can be a big investment in your skills. Here are a couple tips about picking the best instructor for your lesson:

Do it early

Whether you use or just call the local reservation desk in advance, time is your friend. The best instructors are often filled up many weeks, or months in advance with their regulars. During busy times (MLK weekend and President’s Week), ski schools are often sold out and have no one to sell.

Be clear about your goals

Tell the reservation agent what you are looking for, or you can search on and find instructors that you think match your desired outcome. Total beginner and just want to have fun? Make your first set of good turns on blue terrain? Ride your first park feature? Clean up your steeps or bump technique? Have an honest goal in mind, and let the reservation agent and your instructor know when you meet them.

Ask about certifications

The Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) provide certifications for instructors at Level I, II and III. Respectively, these instructors will be wearing a bronze, silver, or gold pin on their jacket, representing the levels. Ask for the highest certified instructor that is available. This is a gross generalization, but if you get someone who is Level II or higher, you are likely to have a very good time.

Only years teaching matters

Ask how many years someone has been teaching. When you have been teaching a long while, you are likely to have encountered hundreds of different types of people, lessons, goals, snow conditions, etc. Sometimes they don’t have national certifications, but there are wily, veterans at every mountain that are worth finding. How long someone has been skiing is unimportant. There is a very little correlation between teaching ability and skiing/riding experience.

Think like a dater

When people try dating sites, they are very specific: I am looking for a person aged X to Y, dark hair, outgoing, etc. While you don’t have to be that discriminatingly specific, the analogy makes the point to try and think hard about how you learn best. Ski schools, especially the private desk, are service businesses, so be as specific as you can about getting what you need. Do you learn best through breaking things down analytically? Are you more just a doer? Do you learn better with women teachers? Men? Are there age groups that you work better with? The more honest thought you put into your successful situation, the more fun you are going to have.

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