Ski School Confidential: Instructors offer ‘the real story’

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With so much attention paid to your ski school experience (and rightly so, you’re the paying customers), we checked in with the instructors themselves. We talked with four instructors from a world-class resort (whose identity will remain anonymous) to see what they thought. Check out their opinions below…

Kids or adults: Who’s better to teach and who would you rather spend time with and why?

Instructor One: One isn’t better than the other; it is all about problem-solving.

Instructor Two: Both kids and adults are great, it is easier and more fun if they are seven or eight years old and up.

Instructor Three: I prefer teenagers. Kids are better—more athletic, less fear. Time with kids is more fun and exciting when they get it.

Instructor Four: Adults understand better but kids are better to spend time with.

kids with instructor
Most instructors enjoy teaching kids.

Tipping: How many people tip? What should they tip? And, what’s the best tip you’ve ever received?

Instructor One: About 25 percent of my clients tip. Those that do, average about $20 in group lessons and $100 in private lessons. The best tip I ever received was $160 for an all-day private.

Instructor Two: 100 percent of private clients tip, 50 percent of group clients tip. $20 is a great tip for a group lesson, and $50 is good for a private lesson. The best tip I ever got was $300 for an all-day private.

Instructor Three: Tipping 15 percent for adult groups and 10 percent for private clients is pretty standard. The best tip came from a little kid who emptied his pockets for some change. However, $200 was the largest tip I ever received for a group private lesson.

Instructor Four: About 30 percent of clients tip. $20 or really anything is a good tip. $600 was my best tip ever for an all-day private.

instructor and kid
An instructor teaching a student at Wild Mountain, Minnesota.

Clients: What are the most commonly asked questions? Also, who are the most aggravating clients and who are the best?

Instructor One: They ask, “how did you decide to become an instructor and why this resort?” I usually answer, “look around at where we get to live.” The most aggravating client is the know-it-all who is over-analytical. The best client is the one with an open mind and a good attitude.

Instructor Two: Beginners ask, “how do I control speed and stay safe?” More experienced skiers want to know, “how do I ski better in the bumps?” The most aggravating client is an overweight teenager. The best client is a good skier who is open to learning more, or a beginner who makes a lot of progress in one day.

Instructor Three: People always ask, “Am I better or worse than the average snowboarder?” The most aggravating students are young kids that don’t want to be there. The best students are athletic teens.

Instructor Four: I always hear, “When do I pick up my kids?” and “When can we go up the chair lift?” The worst clients are snobby, unathletic kids. The best clients are the ones who work for tips themselves and, of course, athletes.

Powder Day: What goes through your mind when you have a full day of lessons on a powder day?

Instructor One: On a powder day, I feel bad for beginners and little kids because it makes for a tough day.

Instructor Two: On a powder day, I want the client to have as much fun as I know I would be having.

Instructor Three: No problem, there will be other pow days to ride. However, first-timers are going to have a tough go on a magic carpet.

Instructor Four: It could be worse on a powder day, at least everyone else is having fun.

Ski school confidential instructor with kids
Young students improve rapidly. Credit: Shutterstock

One Lesson: What is something that you want people who are interested in taking lessons to know?

Instructor One: Simple things can make a big difference. Be open to what the pro is suggesting and know that a little change can make your experience.

Instructor Two: Skiing is fun and you can always learn and improve at any level.

Instructor Three: It takes about three days on average to get it well enough to cruise around on your own.

Instructor Four: It’s not easy, but fun. It’s a lot safer in a lesson than on your own.

Further Reading

5 reasons Ski School is cool for every ability
U.S. ski team’s 5 essential ski training exercises
How to Choose the Right Ski Length
How to Demo Skis Efficiently


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